Facebook’s open-source-hardware champion, Frank Frankovsky, has left the building.

In a personal Facebook post, Frankovsky, who headed up the ambitious Open Compute Project and ran Facebook’s own hardware design, announced that he’s leaving to start his own company.

“It’s time for me to move on to new challenges,” Frankovsky wrote.

“I am planning to work on a new open-source hardware business focused on developing and delivering optical technology for capacity-optimized storage needs.”

The full goodbye note is included at the end of this post.

Frankovsky is not only one of the smartest, coolest folks we’ve interviewed during the course of Facebook’s spearheading of open-source hardware and the Open Compute Project. He’s also an amazingly nice guy. Kind. Funny. The kind of person you want to see succeed.

“I definitely see that vision of open-source everywhere,” said Frankovsky in a recent interview with VentureBeat. “The benefits are just too great to ignore.”

That vision allowed him to lead an entirely new branch of Facebook that focused on designing servers and other network hardware from the ground up, then opening those designs up for anyone — industry heavyweights and garage tinkerers alike — to use, improve, and share.

Frankovsky was heavily involved in Facebook’s experimental Prineville data center, which housed rack after rack of open-source hardware and set new standards for efficiency and low power consumption.

“It’s optional whether people want to contribute back or not, but we do hope people will benefit from what we’re doing,” he said.

“If they derive benefit from it, they’ll be more likely to give back in the future. … Ultimately, they’ll see this is something they’ll feel good about contributing to over time.”

As for open-source hardware in general, he said, “Two years ago, it sounded like a crazy mangling of apples and oranges. … We’re just at the beginning of open-source’s impact on the hardware business.”

Here’s the full note from Frankovsky’s Facebook update.

Facebook has been an incredible place to work over the past 4+ years but its time for me to move on to new challenges. The work we have done together to custom design the most efficient data centers and server/storage systems with a small but mighty team was an awesome experience that I will always have fond memories of! I remember when I joined Facebook in 2009 feeling like a fish out of water as one of the few hardware people at a software company. I’m extremely proud of the excellent hardware engineering and supply chain teams we’ve built since those early days and look forward to seeing what you all develop and share in the future!

I am also proud of the fact that we established the Open Compute Project to share our work with industry. What started out as a crazy idea has grown up to become a project that is having a positive impact on the entire industry. Even though I’m leaving Facebook, I plan to continue our work together on OCP and I’m proud to continue as Chairman and President of the OCP Foundation.

Speaking of OCP, I’m also excited to announce that we recently expanded the board of directors to 7 people by adding Jason Taylor from Facebook and Bill Laing from Microsoft. Jason has been instrumental in shaping Facebook’s infrastructure over the years and I look forward to continuing our work on OCP together. Microsoft has already made significant contributions in a very short period of time and we look forward to welcoming Bill to the board of directors representing Microsoft.

Lastly, I’m excited about my next adventure. I am planning to work on a new open-source hardware business focused on developing and delivering optical technology for capacity-optimized storage needs. I look forward to sharing more details about this new business as the plans come together.

Thanks again to everyone at Facebook and throughout the industry who have helped to accelerate the pace of innovation in hardware through OCP. Delivering innovative and efficient infrastructure to the world is a life long journey that has just begun. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

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