Meta’s new COO looks nothing like Sheryl Sandberg

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Javier Olivan had a problem. It was in the early 2010s and his Facebook team was in charge of messaging. Yes, it sounds counterintuitive and strange, but growth was (and still is) the driving force behind the company, and this team had infinitely broad powers. Basically, anything that brought people to Facebook or kept them on Facebook was fair game. The messaging fit the bill because, as Olivane once put it, “it was a faucet inside Facebook.” If someone sent you a message and you weren’t in the service, you’ll be motivated to sign up.

But a problem marked by the company’s relentless use of data and analytics was that messaging was hidden inside the Facebook app. When users receive a message, they won’t know about it because the notification will get lost in a ton of other things that Facebook bothers them with. “Maybe it will be the 17th notice,” he said when I interviewed him in March 2019. So Olivan and his team came up with a bold decision: “It would be better to take the messaging capabilities out of the app and make it our own app. “. This challenged the conventional wisdom that you should make things easy for users. Olivan’s plan was extortion of sorts: if you want to send a message, hard boogie—unless you download the company’s new messaging platform. “Users in the short term really hated it because all of a sudden you had to install another app,” he told me. But in the end they did it. And not only did messaging take off, but the company eventually turned it into its own social service with a billion users. “Data said it was right,” he told me. “We did it with the best of intentions, and now Messenger is a hugely successful app.”

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Victories like these have propelled the 44-year-old Olivan to increasingly senior positions at the company, culminating in the announcement this week that he will become Meta’s new COO, chief assistant to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. But the promotion seemed almost a footnote to the impending departure of current COO Sheryl Sandberg, the only person to have held the post to date. Sandberg left Facebook in characteristic fashion, carefully rehearsing every element of the ad. She crafted a 1,500-word post that was preloaded with loving praise from former and current Facebook users, with Zuckerberg leading the parade as “most relevant.” She gave interviews to selected media. And with her impending departure — she will retire her badge this fall but remain on the board of directors — she has created dozens of hot takes and ideas, many of which are full of cruel assessments her tenure. (Here’s what I wrote.)

Also, as you might expect, Olivan himself did not give interviews. In pretty soothing post Regarding his promotion, he implicitly acknowledged one huge difference between him and Sandberg: “I was mostly behind the scenes,” he wrote. This is evidenced by the paucity of press clips. I had to work hard to get this conversation with him for my book a few years ago. But when we finally met, he was warm and direct. His conference room was dominated by a full-size surfboard, reflecting his passion for nature. That and his love of parasailing is one of the few things you can find out about him online. I didn’t find anything about his family life, but he mentioned to me that, like his boss Mark Zuckerberg, he has two young daughters. You won’t see many of their photos on his Facebook page. And his Instagram account is private. Only 17 people follow him.

One of these followers is his boss. Zuckerberg himself inspired Olivane to join Facebook. In 2005, after working on Siemens cell phones for several years, the Spanish-born engineer, originally from a small town in the Pyrenees, decided to go to business school at Stanford. He took a course that explored case studies of new businesses, including Facebook. Olivane was already a fan of the young company and even planned to start a similar company in Spain and Latin America. At some point, Zuckerberg came to class, and after that, Olivan spoke to him, asking the CEO about international growth. In 2007, Olivan became a Facebook employee, working on this very product.

Olivan joined Facebook growth circle— an unruly special forces team of data scientists, engineers, researchers, and managers who practiced the dark arts of growth hacking — led by Chamath Palihapitiya, a master of chaos, who isolated his team and encouraged them to ignore boundaries. “It’s not that we’re wizards,” Olivan said. “We are fortunate to be a product development team that has universal appeal.” Olivan’s efforts to spread Facebook around the world — even in languages ​​where the company had no one to monitor content — were a huge success. When Palihapitiya left the company, Olivan became Head of Growth and was later promoted to Head of “Essential Services”, including an integrity organization that is supposed to change the company’s reputation.

As COO, Olivane will have even more responsibilities. However, his portfolio will be very different from Sandberg’s, which originally included HR, communications, politics, diversity and lobbying. It won’t be on his plate. In addition, he warned in his post that he would not engage in the same “public” activities as Sandberg. (Translation: “Don’t make me testify before Congress!”) On the other hand, while Sandberg was in the business of selling ads, the teams that created the actual ad products were previously on Zuckerberg’s side. Olivan will integrate promotional products and sales for the first time. He will also be responsible for teams that Sandberg did not oversee, such as analytics, infrastructure, data science, and design. Overall, Olivane sees his job as bringing together the various teams and partners in the company.

And he’s still responsible for growth, which is as much of a priority as ever. Reorganization this week after Sandberg as well shuffling artificial intelligence operations Meta what happened a day later is related to the company’s reorientation towards dominance in the metaverse, although this shift is still many years away. If this does happen, this is a galactic scale growth opportunity. Meta’s social products have already saturated the available market. But the metaverse is untouched territory: once you build a new world, you must lure the real world into it. So it’s no coincidence that the new RO at the company has done its best in a loose growth cycle based on the premise that anything can be justified by bringing in more people and keeping them there.

I will give the last word to Olivane’s famous predecessor, who contacted me during her post-retirement mini-tour. “He’s a great performer and a great leader,” says Sandberg. “It’s a different job and he’s going to define it in his own way.” (She protested when I asked her what advice she could give him to take her job.) One thing won’t change: Javier Olivan strives to grow.

Time travel

AT my book As for Facebook, I talked about Sandberg’s early days as COO and how she saw the role as much more than just running a business.

Sandberg’s main focus will be on the company’s nascent approach to monetizing and making Facebook profitable, preferably very profitable, in her former employer’s regime. But because of Zuckerberg’s inexperience, her role was much wider. She will be Facebook operations officer. She made sure the explicit work helped Zuckerberg build Facebook into a major corporation. “A thriving business was part of that, but not the only one,” she says.

But she had strong ideas about the business from the very beginning. On her first day, she attended a mandatory boot camp for new employees and listened to Chris Cox’s standard inspirational speech. But then she broke orientation protocol by giving her own speech. She explained to the bewildered newcomers that there was an inverted advertising pyramid, and to date her former employer, Google, has dominated the bottom by monetizing intent (as people searched). But Facebook, she says, will have even more business because it has the potential to create and monetize demand. It was a much wider part of an inverted pyramid. People go to Facebook every day to find out what’s new and share their interests. That way, advertisers will be able to sell Facebook users what they want before they even think about asking for it.

Ask about anything

Daniel asks, “What is the most effective philanthropic strategy for the average American? Local or national or global? An immediate critical need or a long-term proactive solution to a problem? Contribute to unbiased news outlets to help educate and inform or provide practical help?”

Thank you Daniel. It’s a shame that, at least in the United States, we have to rely on individual charities to solve problems that should be solved with public funds. Your question implicitly acknowledges that sometimes we may not be making the wisest choice about who gets the money.

However, I will not single out one or two categories for “most effective”. It would just reflect my bias. I advocate a thoughtful approach to charitable giving, where potential donors look at who will benefit from their dollars and how. I also urge them to research organizations that are willing to accept their tithing—there are many places that evaluate nonprofits, such as Charity Navigator. It’s smart to consider both local and global causes, and don’t forget that volunteering is a way to see up close the impact of your dollars, as well as a significant contribution in and of itself.

Personally, I like an organization from my hometown of Philadelphia called Mighty Writers. It indicates success to children through writing and clear thinking; during the pandemic, she gave away free books, diapers and food to her communities. And it’s highly rated on Charity Navigator!

You can send questions to [email protected]. Write ASK FOR A FEE in the subject of the email.

Chronicle of the last times

Sierra Club published playlist for the end of the world. Do you think the organization knows something?

Last but not least

When Sheryl Sandberg announced her departure, Mark Zuckerberg reorganized the company so that future COOs would have nothing like her power.

WIRED talks to Volodymyr Zelensky, who says: “The future is wider than the past.” To the brand!

Return Aim message!

We may never have flying cars. But if we do that’s where they’ll hang out.

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