Walls close in on Zuckerberg as leaders desert Meta
Among the most prominent global technology companies, Meta has been one of the few to fully embrace remote working. Its senior executives have been encouraged to relocate wherever they choose in the world, prompting three of its senior executives to relocate to London.
Sir Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister turned global affairs chairman for Facebook’s parent company, is making a partial return to Britain as he splits his time between King’s Cross and Silicon Valley.
It comes despite the Liberal Democrats lambasting the country’s ‘un-British’ decision to leave the European Union, predicting a post-Brexit UK would be ‘economically precarious’.
Sir Nick joins executives such as Adam Mosseri, the globe-trotting Instagram executive whose former remote offices include Hawaii and Cape Cod, and Meta marketing chief Alex Schulz.
While at first glance it may seem that the lure of London – and Meta’s state-of-the-art offices – is stronger than the California sun, recent pullbacks point to deeper unrest inside Meta. Some suggest it lies in the current views of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his growing reluctance to be challenged.
On a staff call in June, the chief executive reacted strongly when an employee asked if Meta Days, an additional holiday introduced during the pandemic, would continue.
“In reality, there’s probably a bunch of people in the company who shouldn’t be here,” the 38-year-old shot back.
Reaction was mixed: A post on Workplace, the company’s internal bulletin board, reportedly joked, “Who hired them?”
Meta struggles to say that her traveling executives just visit other countries, deducing that their hearts and minds remain firmly rooted at her headquarters in Menlo Park, California. While that may be true for some of the current crop, a slew of departures over the past two years raises the question of whether Zuckerberg is increasingly isolated.
Earlier this year, Facebook’s long-term CTO Mike Schroepfer was replaced by Andrew “Boz” Bosworth as CTO of Meta. Bosworth’s last public statement was that he was taking a month off: “I often tell my team to take the time they need because I think that’s been a major key to my longevity in this industry.”
Meanwhile, Antonio Lucio, Schulz’s predecessor as chief marketing officer and veteran of Hewlett Packard, left Facebook to become a diversity consultant in mid-2020, saying the move would mark the “twilight” of his career.
And Fiji Simo, a 36-year-old female executive who heads Facebook’s core app, left last year to run grocery delivery app Instacart. She told CNBC at the time that Zuckerberg had been “incredibly supportive” of her leaving, adding, “Obviously sad that we couldn’t find something that fit Facebook, but also incredibly supportive of what I take on this role.”
His departure made waves in the world of Big Tech, in particular because of an anecdote going around the context of his decision. Instagram leadership was said to be up for grabs and Simo was called in to Zuckerberg to outline his vision for the product’s growth. She didn’t get the job.
Deprived of the natural next step in his career, Simo started looking outside of Facebook; a seat on Instacart’s board of directors followed by the CEO’s chairman’s bid won.
This growing disconnect at the top level of Meta comes as Zuckerberg’s ideas for keeping his company at the top of the social media pile are starting to look increasingly unstable.
Facebook insiders have mixed views on executive theft, both through pink slips and through self-directed company posts in remote locations.