Google buys alums’ site

Oct. 11, 2010, 2:28 a.m.

Stanford alumni Ben Eidelson ’08 M.S. ’08 and Jason Prado ’08 sold their company last week to Google for an estimated $6 million.

The pair founded everythingIsTheBest, LLC just last year, but its ingenuity managed to attract Google’s attention. The company hosts a series of projects that “apply simple technology to real problems,” according to the company’s website.

Eidelson enrolled at Stanford at age 16 and earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering in four years. After graduation, Eidelson and Prado both worked at Microsoft. They left the company and later founded their own.

In Silicon Valley, the image of an overworked computer science graduate struggling to make the next big website is common, but Eidelson and Prado seemed to have navigated the startup lifestyle with balance after leaving Microsoft.

“There were no moments of super desperation, but we definitely adjusted our lifestyle accordingly,” Eidelson said of their decision to close the door on Microsoft in favor of a big bet on everythingIsTheBest. “Stanford did play a big part…it tends to instill people with the idea of not feeling insecure about not having a quote-unquote real job.”

“We just threw away the idea of work…we’re just living life and building things we want to build,” he added.

The pair’s latest creation, Plannr (now closed), served as an up-to-the-minute social planning service for use by small groups of friends. By syncing an address book and Google Maps, Plannr provided an alternative for text or e-mail streams that can arise around planning a simple coffee date or pizza night.

Plannr faced competition from Facebook invites, a host of other apps trying to get iPhone users to hang out with each other, and simple phone calls. However, TechCrunch called the application “schedule management for hipsters” and deemed it a success.

“We didn’t think about what was already out there, because if those things worked for us, we’d be using them, and we weren’t,” Eidelson said.

By taking lessons from their own experiences, Eidelson and Prado seem to have successfully captured the social potential coursing through the iPhone’s circuitry.
Plannr and other everythingIsTheBest apps have been shut down following Google’s purchase of the company. Eidelson and Prado will begin work at Google soon.

“It’s definitely going to be a change to be employees again,” Eidelson said.

Although Stanford is home to many innovative site founders who dropped out–including Google creators Larry Page M.S. ’98 and Sergey Brin M.S. ’95, who left their Ph.D. studies for the company–Eidelson said he was happy to have completed his degree.

“A lot of things you read, you just don’t end up applying…you can almost get inundated with consumption of material rather than just doing stuff,” Eidelson said. “I do regret not doing more projects as a student, with other students, because I was so overwhelmed with problem sets and day-to-day work.”

Eidelson and Prado’s initial success story may seem to parallel the origins of Facebook, but Eidelson maintains that there isn’t an ambition for fame.

“We’re just having a fun time in life, and I sometimes wonder how bad that would look in a movie,” he said.

Correction: In an earlier version of this story, due to an editing error, The Daily incorrectly reported that Ben Eidelson and Jason Prado developed the idea for their social networking project while working at Microsoft after graduation. In fact, they founded their company after leaving Microsoft. Also, The Daily incorrectly listed Eidelson’s master’s degree as an M.A. He earned an M.S.

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