It was product, marketing, operations. I had an amorphous, fucked up, role for a while. The first year was really bad. I didn’t get anything done. I didn’t do that well. It culminated in November of 2008, I remember this so vividly. I was in Thailand for a wedding, and we had just launched Beacon, which was our first attempt at the advertising platform. It was a huge disaster.
FTC, State Attorney General’s suing us. There were news camera teams at 101 University. I remember getting this email from Mark, and it said something to the effect of, “Hey listen, a bunch of guys have come to me to talk about you, and they really don’t trust you.”
It turned out it was from the business side, the non-technical folks. I was like, “Oh shit, I’m going to get fired.”
Fast-forward four or five months after that, Sheryl joins, and she’s like, “Where’s your head at?”
I was listless. It really took the wind out of my sales.
I said “Well, I kind of feel like I screwed this up, so here’s my shot at redemption.” So I pitched this idea and they said, “What do you call this thing?” This algorithmic, SEO type thing?
I just called it, “Growth.” I’ll be the head of growing stuff. And it was a game-changer. I could completely unpack all of my psychological baggage. Fuck it, I’m not listening to anybody anymore. I’m listening to my inner voice. I don’t care what my parents say.
All the most important decisions that have worked out for me — it’s not their fault — my parents represent the safety, societally-driven, outside-in validated choice. Whenever I’ve been the most successful, I did the inside-out validated choice, and I stuck to my guns.
What was great about Facebook was that, as it was growing, I got a lot of the credit. As a result, I was able to reflect an extreme version of being an executive.
I was super apolitical. I was totally by myself. I played no games. Everytime people would come in with a plan, I’d say, “If you can’t do it for half the number of people, I’ll do it.” I kept calling people out left right and center on everything. I was a curmudgeon. I’d see an Audi in the parking lot, I would take pictures of it and email everybody saying, “This is what is going to fucking destroy us.”
I tried to make sure that we never got lost in ourselves, in the success.
Mark would not have gotten lost, but everyone else.
Great companies, you need a couple of these standard-bearers.