We have all heard about how it feels like to work at Google and how Google is the trend setter of creating the perfect environment for creativity and employee retention. But Facebook is different. Rarely have we ever heard about how it feels like to work with Mike Zuckerberg, a company that employs more than a 1,000 able people must have a story or two to share.
The fact that rarely anything about working at Facebook, or with Zuckerberg, is featured in the media made me curious to learn more about.
Mark Zuckerberg was somewhat of a local celebrity at Harvard in the fall of 2003. His first site Facemash was a hit at campus; a hot-or-not site for Harvard. Due to that popularity, he was recommended to code another project.
During that time Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra were on the lookout for a programmer to code their idea for them. They wanted to create a social media network for students at Harvard and then potentially expand it to other universities. Based on the recommendation they received, they contacted Mark, and both parties agreed to start working on the project. While at first Mark was enthusiastic about the project, shortly his tone and enthusiasm waded. He went from saying “I read over all the stuff you sent and it seems like it shouldn’t take too long to implement, so we can talk about that after I get all the basic functionality up tomorrow night” to “The week has been pretty busy thus far, so I haven’t gotten a chance to do much work on the site or even think about it really“.
What might have been understood at the time as a very busy school schedule turned out to be an act to sabotage and delay Harvard Connect long enough for his own creation to be released first. That creation was the “Facebook thing”. A week after meeting with the Harvard connect in a communication with a classmate, Mark said the following:
“Check this site out: www.harvardconnection.com and then go to harvardconnection.com/datehome.php. Someone is already trying to make a dating site. But they made a mistake haha. They asked me to make it for them. So I’m like delaying it so it won’t be ready until after the Facebook thing comes out.”
Basically, to make a long story short, Mark Zuckerberg screwed the Harvard Connection guys and went on to work on Facebook.com, which became hugely successful. The Harvard Connection people went on to release their idea: connectU, sued Mike for stealing their idea and they settled for $65 million dollars.
I’m not saying he’s a douche but if you go and double cross your bosses then you must place little stock in loyalty and honesty. And, no offence, that makes you a kind of a douche, just sayin’.
How it is like now?
Well, after six years and hundreds of millions of people on his site, you would expect that Mark has matured and grown up to be a better CEO and places more value on a team effort. I wanted to prove to myself that people change, and the best way to learn how a manager is like at work is to get one of the people that work for him, single them out and take them to a bar. At the bar you barrage them with a combination of booze and questions, until they spill it all out. Now that would be the ideal way but I can’t quite do that so I’ll have to settle for either checking a blog of someone working for Facebook, or just rely on traditional media.
After checking some of the stuff written by employees and executives working for the company, a few things become apparently clear. Quite a few people have gripes about young Mark’s management style and how he runs his little empire as a dictatorship rather than a wimpy democracy.
One of the more colorful things that employees mention is that in the early days of Facebook, Mark would end every meeting by instructing his employees to pump their fists in the air and scream “domination”. Now, if that doesn’t scream dictator than I don’t know what he is supposed to do short of dawning a Darth Vader mask. He’s also known to quote parts of the Iliad and the movie “Troy” to pump up his troops. But the one thing that you need to know if you are working with Zuck is that he is stingy with praise, and he is a micro manager that always expects success and you will receive no acknowledgment for it, they even wrote an internal memo about it and called it “Working with Zuck“.
Things Change & Yet Stay The Same
So, it seems little has changed from the days of double crossings at Harvard to days of expecting everyone that works for you to be your own little trooper. Moreover, the environment that Mark created at Facebook gave it the reputation of being a hard sell for top talent, despite its gigantic growth of user base. In addition to that, while other tech tycoons tend to lean a bit to the arrogant side, one Steve Jobs comes to mind, they actually have the experience to back them up… which at the end of the day the richest 25 year in the world (possibly) does not.
What do you think of working at Facebook or what you learned about Zuck here? Let us hear your thoughts.