Meet the intern who built a key Facebook mobile ad product

The social network highlights one of its rising stars -- the intern who created a mobile tool for advertisers.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
2 min read
Peter Cottle hanging out at the San Diego Zoo Courtesy of Peter Cottle

Facebook is known for its hacker culture -- constantly challenging the status quo and valuing a good idea from anywhere in the ranks. So it shouldn't be a surprise to those who know the culture that one of its most prominent (and potentially moneymaking) mobile products to date came from an intern.

The social network put the spotlight on 23-year-old Peter Cottle, a software engineering intern and University of California, Berkeley, student, today with a blog post detailing Cottle's work on the ability to buy promoted posts through mobile devices.

In the post, Cottle, a soon to be full-time employee at Facebook, wrote about his expectations for his internship this past summer. He thought he would be writing tests for servers or doing white papers, not helping Facebook's first mobile-advertising product become a reality within his first week as an intern.

"After a whirlwind of on-boardings and abbreviated engineering bootcamp sessions, I met my manager, plopped down at my desk, and learned what my internship project would be: to implement the first mobile-advertising interface for Facebook... ever," he wrote.

This wasn't just some busy work for the new guy. Facebook's shift to mobile is huge. Facebook has 600 million monthly users on mobile, and business owners are a part of that wave. The interface Cottle brought to life was a result of businesses asking the social network for ways to keep up.

A mechanical-engineering student going for his master's and Ph.D at Cal, Cottle received his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from UC San Diego and has interned as an autopilot-software development intern at General Atomics Aeronautical, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He wrote how he and then product design intern Leo Mancini -- Mancini is now a full-fledged employee, according to his LinkedIn profile -- worked into the wee hours to get the task done. Cottle's favorite part of the product? The carousel insights view that lets page administrators see how many people saw their promoted post.

"It makes the entire page management process seamless, dynamic, and responsive; implementing it was my favorite part of the summer," he wrote.

Not exactly fun in the sun, but Cottle's got a leg up on most "what I did over summer break" stories, and a new job to look forward to:

"It felt great to put so much effort into a historic interface and see our work make the ship deadline. I'm really proud of the feature, thankful for the opportunity, and excited to demonstrate Facebook's dedication towards mobile. Even better, I'll get to experience Facebook's culture full time when I return in the Spring."