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Venture Capital Enterprise Facebook Apple

Behind Facebook’s Mobile Platform, a Driven Young Entrepreneur

When Facebook purchased the mobile services company Parse for $85 million a little more than a year ago, one key to the deal was convincing the Parse team, led by Ilya Sukhar, that it would be able to stay together and keep building its business within Facebook.

Mr. Sukhar, a mobile programming prodigy, had already rejected offers from Apple and Dropbox, which were more interested in the company’s four talented founders than its business, according to people who were involved in the conversations. Facebook persuaded Mr. Sukhar and his colleagues that it had much bigger plans.

Parse’s customers in the world of mobile app developers were skeptical; Facebook had purchased promising tools before, only to let them languish or scrap them altogether. “There goes another great product,” said one developer upon hearing the news.

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Chris Howard, a principal at the Seattle venture firm Ignition, brought Parse in for a meeting in the fall of 2011, and he said his partners made it clear to him that he shouldn’t let the Parse team get out of Seattle without a term sheet.