Hey, folks. We are stalled in arms security, the Ukrainian war is still advancing and a gallon of gasoline is approaching the price of an Ethereum gas tariff. At least we won’t have to deal with Johnny Depp for another week.
The Flat View
Javier Olivan had a problem. It was the early 2010’s, and his growing Facebook team was in charge of messaging. Yes, that sounds unintuitive and weird, but growth was (and still is) the engine of the company, and this team had an infinitely broad mandate. Basically, anything that drove people to Facebook, or kept people on Facebook, was a fair game. Messaging was rated because, as Olivan once said, “it was a touch within Facebook.” If someone sent you a message and you were offline, you would be motivated to sign up.
But the problem, pointed out by the relentless use of company data and analytics, was that the messaging was buried inside the Facebook app. When users received a message, they did not know, because the notification would be lost in the bombardment of other things that bothered Facebook. “It may be the 17th notification,” he said when I interviewed him in March 2019. So Olivan and his team found a bold solution: “It would be better to take the messaging experience out of the app and do it its own application. ” This defied conventional wisdom, which says that you should make everything easier for users.Olivan’s plan was a form of extortion: if you wanted to send a message, hard boogies, unless you downloaded the new messaging platform from “Short-term users hated it a lot, because all of a sudden you had to install another app,” he told me, “but in the end they did. the company grew it into an independent social service of a billion users. “Data said it was right,” he told me. “We did it with the best of intentions, and now Messenger is a very successful application.” .
Victories like this have taken Olivan, 44, to higher and higher positions in the company, culminating in this week’s announcement that he would become the new chief operating officer of Meta, the CEO’s top aide. Mark Zuckerberg. But the promotion seemed almost a footnote to the imminent departure of current COO Sheryl Sandberg, the only person to hold that position until now. Sandberg left Facebook in a characteristic way, with every element of the ad with meticulous choreography. He prepared a 1,500-word post that was previously loaded with loving praise from past and current Facebook users, with Zuckerberg leading the parade as “most relevant.” He gave interviews to selected media organizations. And as a result of his imminent departure – he will relinquish his insignia this autumn but remain on the board – he has generated dozens of reflections and reflections, many of them laden with brutal evaluations of his term. (Here’s what I wrote.)
Also true to form, Olivan himself did not give interviews. In a rather innocuous post about his promotion, he implicitly acknowledged a big difference between Sandberg and himself: “I’ve been mostly behind the scenes,” he wrote. A shortage of press clips talks about it. 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 friendly and direct. His conference room was dominated by a full-size surfboard, which reflected his passion for the outdoors. This and his love of parasailing are among the few things an internet search reveals about him. I didn’t find anything in her family life, but she mentioned to me that, like her boss Mark Zuckerberg, she has two young daughters. You won’t see many photos of them on their Facebook page. And his Instagram account is private. Only 17 people follow him.
One of those followers is his boss. Zuckerberg himself had inspired Olivan to join Facebook. In 2005, after spending a few years working with Siemens mobile phones, the Spanish-born engineer from a small town in the Pyrenees decided to go to business school in Stanford. He took a class that examined case studies of new businesses, including Facebook. Olivan was already a fan of the young company and even planned to create a similar company in Spain and Latin America. At one point, Zuckerberg came to class and Olivan spoke to him afterwards, asking the CEO about international growth. In 2007, Olivan became a Facebook employee, working on the same product.