Originally posted on the fbFund blog
While a Stanford undergrad, I began my online career with gleeful audacity. The Monday after Facebook Platform launched, my friend and I released Facebook’s original Graffiti application. We were unexperienced and had no viral component, so we soon lost the battle to Mark Kantor et al.’s version. But Graffiti gave us excitement and hunger. The following fall we enrolled in Stanford’s course on Facebook applications, using the opportunity to develop Send Hotness. This time, we nailed the virality. A few advertising payouts later, we were the proud owners of two companies. Doped up on adrenaline, we loved every minute. I stepped down eventually once I remembered that I had schoolwork to do, but I felt sure that this was my path.
Fast forward to April 2009. Graduation is pending, and I have the thrilling chance to commit my waking hours to some product. As it turns out, I basically had one choice:
We’re developing a real-time, web 2.0, social algorithm-based consumer-facing interface that will revolutionize what users do when they [blank]
Many were great products, but I was saddened by those whose blanks were literal. They revolutionized where there was no value, turning a frivolous activity into a a well-designed and sexy frivolous activity. I needed more than that, and I looked for a way off of this path to inconsequence.
This is when I met Leila Chirayath Janah, the founder and CEO of Samasource. Having been in operations for 6 months at the time, Samasource’s mission was to bring dignified, computer-based work to women, youth, and refugees living in poverty. They recognized the tremendous untapped talent in impoverished countries and strove to bring prosperity by providing a sustainable livelihood. This is an idea that will change the world, and I was hooked from the start.
I now have the privilege of being Samasource’s VP of Technology, and we have truly been blessed by being invited to participate in fbFund REV this summer. It’s an unexpected meeting of my past and current passions, and it has been tremendously fruitful. The Facebook platform, as well as other social channels, have a huge potential to effect social change and support these initiatives.
Samasource’s project this summer is to bring our services to the Facebook platform by allowing partners in rural Asia and sub-Saharan Africa to offer quality assurance and testing to application developers. I believe that Facebook can bring together resourceful entrepreneurs and skilled rural workers in a way that was previously unheard of. As an application developer you are working one-on-one with a real person from across the world. This is a very moving realization, as I found when first inviting our service partners to join the site. For these individuals, having a Facebook profile is itself a powerful first step. Many have little or no web presence, and this will be their first chance to build a legitimate online reputation. Imagine the excitement of becoming plugged into such a dynamic international network for the first time, seeing no limit to where your work can take you.
So as it turns out, I am now committing my waking hours to a great product. We are remodeling the means by which an individual can rise out of poverty. We are enabling people to make socially responsible decisions that will change a life forever. Samasource is revolutionizing by giving work.