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Who are the Firebase Founders? (2024 Update)

The firebase founders are James Tamplin and Andrew Lee. In this article we give a short biography on each of them as well as a brief history of firebase.

Image Credit: James Tamplin

James Tamplin

James Tamplin is an experienced systems engineer and entrepreneur who has significantly simplified mobile and web application development. He co-founded Firebase and served as its CEO before being acquired by Google, where he later worked as a Group Product Manager.

In February 2019, James left Google and Firebase to pursue new ventures. He is now an active investor in early-stage startups, both individually and with Founder Collective, backing companies like Segment, Monzo, b8ta, Imgix, and more.

  • He earned a bachelor's and master's degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Wisconsin.
  • Before co-founding Firebase, James was a stage actor in New York, an improv comic, and worked on two other startups: and Envolve.
  • He and Andrew Lee bootstrapped and built three products before pivoting to Firebase, which launched into beta on April 12th, 2012.
  • Firebase was acquired by Google, and James continued to grow and lead Firebase as an independent brand within the company.


Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee is an accomplished software developer and entrepreneur. After leaving Google in December 2017, he became an active angel investor and, in 2020, co-founded Shortwave, a company on a mission to build the product experience that email's federated infrastructure deserves.

  • He double-majored in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 2006.
  • Andrew co-founded several startups with James, including Firebase, which began in 2011.
  • Prior to Firebase, he worked on and Envolve with James.
  • Firebase was sold to Google in 2014, and Andrew continued to work and grow the business within Google until 2017.
  • Today, Firebase is one of the largest platforms for mobile and web app development in the world, used by around 15% of all developers.

Brief History of Firebase

Firebase has its roots in two earlier startups founded by James Tamplin and Andrew Lee, and Envolve. started in 2008 as a service for generating printable tracking tags for users' valuables and later evolved into a social networking site based on real-world objects.

Envolve, launched in 2011, was a chat-as-a-service platform backed by Y Combinator.

While working on, the founders struggled to find a reliable chat tool for their website, which led them to build their own. Realizing that other developers faced similar challenges, they shifted their focus to creating embeddable, real-time chat widgets for other sites through Envolve.

During their time at Envolve, they discovered that many of their customers were using the chat API to sync data across users' computers instead of just chatting. This prompted another pivot, separating the real-time synced database backend (which became Firebase) from Envolve.

Firebase continued to grow and develop based on customer feedback, even adding web asset hosting in response to user requests. In 2014, Firebase was acquired by Google, where it expanded further, becoming the largest platform for mobile and web app development in the world. James Tamplin left Google and Firebase in February 2019, while Andrew Lee had already left in December 2017 to pursue other opportunities.

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