Protocol - Changing of the guard

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By Issie Lapowsky, Sarah Roach and the Source Code team
June 2, 2022


Good morning! It’s the end of an era: After 14 years as Meta’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg is leaving the company in Mark Zuckerberg’s hands. The move, though unsurprising, is another sign of a big shift in tech. Speaking of shifts, Elon Musk is the one executive who doesn’t care about smoothing the return to office. His approach is certainly … unique. Happy Thursday; let’s do this.

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A changing of the guard

 

It's the end of an era at Meta — and perhaps across the entire industry.

Sheryl Sandberg will leave Meta this fall after 14 years at the company “to write the next chapter” of her life, telling Fortune that she made the decision just this weekend. That timing is impossible to buy, but even if it’s true, Sandberg’s decision didn’t happen in a vacuum. The writing has been on the Facebook wall for years.

  • For most of the company’s history, Sandberg was teflon. Whatever scandals the company faced — and there were many — they mainly landed at Zuckerberg’s feet.
  • Sandberg maintained a glowing reputation as the rare female executive in a male-dominated industry and, with “Lean In,” created her own wildly successful global brand centered on women’s empowerment in the workplace.
  • But Sandberg’s star began to fall along with Facebook’s after the 2016 election, particularly in 2018, when it became clear that she was as responsible for Facebook’s failures as she was its successes.
  • Sandberg reportedly lashed out at Facebook’s head of security for investigating Russian interference without her blessing in 2017 and urged the company to dial back the details in early disclosures about the Russian intrusion.
  • Facebook also reportedly hired an oppo research group to dig up dirt about George Soros’ ties to Facebook critics. Sandberg initially denied knowing anything about it, before finally admitting that she did.

Facebook’s pivot to Meta put Sandberg’s future in doubt. The last year at Meta has seen high-profile promotions and staffing changes.

  • Nick Clegg rose to president of Global Affairs and the company created its first-ever chief business officer role for Marne Levine.
  • With fresh faces to represent the company to both politicians and advertisers, the question became: What was left for Sandberg?

Sandberg’s exit is part of a more widespread changing of the guard. In just the last few years, so many of tech’s most successful leaders — Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Jack Dorsey, to name a few — have stepped down from the companies they founded. There's a sense now that as the rules of tech platforms are being rewritten — by laws and by billionaires on ego trips — the people who built the last generation of tech giants aren’t going to be the ones building whatever comes next.

In her farewell announcement, Sandberg gave little indication as to why she decided her time had come and leaned instead on the old corporate cliché, writing that she plans to spend more time on philanthropy and family. But the reason for her exit may be the same as the reason she joined the company in the first place: Sandberg was Facebook’s first adult. Now, Facebook is all grown up.


Issie Lapowsky (email | twitter)
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Elon forces a return to office

 

Elon Musk is taking a hard line on the office: In a letter to SpaceX and Tesla employees, he said they all need to be in the office for 40 hours a week or get out.

He all but confirmed that he was serious on Twitter. “If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned,” he told workers.

At Tesla, remote work is still possible … for employees who have already put 40 hours in at the office.

  • “The more senior you are, the more visible must be your presence,” Musk said. “That is why I spent so much time in the factory — so that those on the line could see me working alongside them.”
  • He’s always been a big fan of pulling lengthy shifts, having praised Chinese factory workers for toiling away for stretches of time that would be unacceptable in the U.S.
  • Meanwhile, Tesla’s rival automakers (Ford, GM, etc.) offer flexible work-from-home policies. Musk derided companies that allow remote work: “When was the last time they shipped a great product? It’s been a while.”

Despite Tesla’s plan, Twitter will keep its WFH policy intact. For now. Elon has already caused employee upheaval at Twitter, but there are no plans to pivot to a Tesla approach: Twitter told me that its employees won’t be required in the office.

  • “Can confirm that Twitter continues to allow for permanent work from home as was shared in 2020, with no plans to change this policy,” a Twitter spokesperson told me. (I put the question to Musk, too. I’ll let you know if I ever hear back.)
  • Twitter employees may not have to worry about commuting, but the company is reportedly scaling back some long-term projects and reassigning responsibilities ahead of Musk's acquisition.

Still, anything could happen if and/or when Musk takes over Twitter. If Musk decides the company’s highest priorities are fighting bots and editing tweets, maintaining a flexible WFH policy might be relegated to the back burner.


Sarah Roach (email | twitter)

A MESSAGE FROM SAP

For the last 50 years, SAP has worked closely with our customers to solve some of the world’s most intricate problems. We have also seen, and have been a part of, rapid accelerations in technology in response. Across industries, certain paths have emerged to help businesses manage the unexpected challenges over the last few years.

Learn more

People are talking

 

Not enough tech companies have stopped operations in Russia, Volodymyr Zelensky said:

  • "We are fighting not only against Russia but against all those companies as well."

Netflix’s Marc Randolph thinks the advice “follow your dreams” is BS:

  • “All the well meaning people telling you to follow your dreams leave out something important. They never tell you how.”

WithSecure’s Mikko Hypponen said Russia’s cyberattacks on Ukraine aren’t successful:

  • “Ukraine is not fighting alone; the West is helping.”

Making moves

 

Kevin Huang and Henri Buchsteiner joined Choco as COO and CFO, respectively. Huang comes from DoorDash, and Buchsteiner led Morgan Stanley’s flexible privacy equity fund.

Andrew Barge is Buzzer's new chief business officer. Barge just left Twitter, where he worked on business development.

Sumo Logic made some new exec hires: Steve Doyle and Russell Rosa joined from Cisco; Timm Hoyt came from PagerDuty; and Zakir Ahmed joined from Kofax.

David Beck joined Brightcove as its first chief strategy and corporate development officer. Beck last worked at AMC as EVP, head of Content Strategy and Business Ops.

George Orr is George Jon’s new COO. Orr spent over a decade at Relativity.

In other news

 

Here's what you should know about Javier Olivan, Meta's newest COO who last worked as chief growth officer. The job's going to look a lot different to Sandberg's.

Oracle won regulatory approval to buy Cerner. Shareholders are expected to sign off on the deal next week.

Slack wants people to get names right. Users can now add name pronunciations to their Slack profile, among other characteristics.

Loom laid off 14% of its staff, becoming the latest tech company to cut down on workers.

Amber Alerts are coming to Instagram. They’ll show up for users located in the vicinity of a missing child.

Twitter’s getting rid of TweetDeck for Mac. Hang in there, folks.

New England's getting its own sports streaming service. Red Sox broadcaster NESN is launching the first-ever regional sports streaming service.

How much are tech workers making these days? The median salary for Alphabet and Meta workers is almost $300,000 per year, the highest of the S&P 500 companies.

Google’s trying to help formerly incarcerated people reenter work. It’s investing over $8 million in skills training and programs to help them get back into the workforce.

A16z launched a podcast called “web3 with a16z.” Sonal Chokshi will host it.

How would you get work done in the metaverse?

 

Apparently a lot of tech workers would work in the metaverse. According to a new study from Morning Consult, over half of tech workers would use a digital avatar for virtual meetings. So we want to know: How would you use the metaverse to get work done?

Would you talk to job candidates in the virtual world? Are you having all of your 1:1s there? Or would you spend your day hanging out in silence with your co-workers? Respond to this email and let us know, and we’ll round up our favorites in the Sunday edition of Source Code.

A MESSAGE FROM SAP

When companies invest in maintaining their “green ledger” with the same commitment they have to their financial ledgers, they will be able to connect their environmental, social, and financial data holistically so they can steer their business towards sustainability. At the end of the day, what gets measured, gets managed.

Learn more

 

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

 

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