What Mark Zuckerberg Achieves With New CTO Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth

Andrew Bosworth AKA Boz, an expert in advertising for Facebook, gives a talk at the Online Marketing Rockstars marketing trade show in Hamburg, Germany, 03 March 2017. Photo: Christian Charisius / dpa | usage worldwide (Photo by Christian Charisius / picture alliance via Getty Images)

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg looks to old friend and former Harvard teaching assistant Andrew “Boz” Bosworth at a difficult time for the company.

Last week, a series of damaging reports in the Wall Street Journal showed major problems in the business ecosystem, including a lack of content moderators for markets outside the United States, an avalanche of anti-misinformation. -vaccine in user comments and negative Instagram comments, owned by Facebook. effect on adolescent mental health.

There were reports that Facebook employees and executives were aware of these issues but were unable or unwilling to fix them. Lawmakers have already pledged to question executives at Facebook and other big tech companies about the effects of social media on teens.

Facebook reshuffled its leadership on Wednesday. Mike Schroepfer, his CTO for over eight years, will step down next year and be replaced by Bosworth.

It’s unclear why Schroepfer is leaving, or if this has anything to do with the Journal reports. In his note announcing his resignation, he said he hoped to devote more time to family and philanthropy while helping with recruiting and artificial intelligence technologies as the company’s first senior fellow.

With Bosworth, Zuckerberg once again turns to one of his most trusted assistants.

Since joining in 2006, Bosworth has built a reputation as a Zuckerberg handyman. He developed key products and toppled crucial divisions including computer hardware and Facebook’s bread and butter: advertising. He has a reputation for being direct with his peers and subordinates. He also frequently posts his thoughts on technology, leadership and personal growth – internally and on his public blog.

Some of these thoughts are unusually blunt for a business executive. For example, in a leaked January 2020 memo, Bosworth said that Facebook looked more like sugar than a toxin.

“While Facebook might not be nicotine, I think it’s probably like sugar,” he wrote. “Sugar is delicious and for most of us there is a special place for it in our lives. But like all things, it benefits in moderation.”

In a leaked 2016 memo, he wrote about the attitude of some Facebook employees that connecting people is “de facto good” even though it sometimes leads to bad results, such as bullying or an “attack.” terrorist coordinated on our tools “. After the leak, Bosworth and Zuckerberg explained that the memo was intended to criticize this mindset among Facebook employees rather than defend it.

Bosworth is also one of the most accessible executives on Facebook, posting frequently on Twitter or hosting Q&A sessions on Instagram. Most recently, he started a podcast called “Boz To The Future” where he and guests discuss the latest technology.

He is also a polarizing figure within the company. A former employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to break a nondisclosure agreement with Facebook, told CNBC that Bosworth thinks he is a genius, but that he probably just got off. luck in his career. However, a former business executive who worked directly with Bosworth for several years told CNBC that Bosworth is a passionate leader to work for and who demands greatness from his employees.

Facebook declined to comment.

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Bosworth met Zuckerberg at Harvard as a teaching assistant in an artificial intelligence class. After Zuckerberg founded Facebook in 2004, Bosworth joined the company in January 2006 as one of the company’s first software engineers.

Within months, Bosworth had left his mark. He was one of the few software engineers who created what is Facebook’s most important feature today, the News Feed. Prior to the news feed launch in September 2006, Facebook was a group of profiles that users could browse, leaving messages on each other’s “walls” however they liked. The news feed gathered all of these posts into one endless screen, where the content kept arriving. Bosworth is considered the godfather of News Feed, a former executive told CNBC.

Some Facebook users were initially upset that their messages to each other were now easily visible to all of their friends. But the feature eventually became a hit.

As Facebook shifted from a primarily web-focused business to a mobile focus in 2012, Zuckerberg brought in Bosworth to lead the development of the company’s advertising products. In that role, Bosworth took a dysfunctional hodgepodge of products in a struggling division, the former Facebook executive told CNBC, and turned it into a nearly $ 27 billion money generator. dollars at the end of 2016.

In August 2017, Facebook announced that Bosworth would manage consumer hardware, including the ailing skunkworks division of Building 8.

Even though Bosworth had no experience working on hardware, Zuckerberg turned to him to fix the teams, which included the Oculus virtual reality division acquired in 2014 for $ 2.3 billion. Oculus had barely released its first mainstream headset, the Rift, a year earlier with little consumer success, and Building 8 was struggling to deliver products at the overzealous pace Facebook expected.

Over the past four years, Bosworth has revamped and refocused Facebook’s hardware unit, which is now called Facebook Reality Labs.

Now the company finally has a wide range of hardware gadgets available for purchase. These include the Oculus Quest headset, Portal, Portal Go, Portal + and Portal TV video calling devices, as well as smart glasses designed in collaboration with Luxottica and called Ray-Ban Stories. Earlier this year, Facebook also announced a new team within Reality Labs that will focus on the metaverse – a future virtual reality space where people can meet.

Facebook has yet to release specific sales figures for its hardware devices, but the company’s other revenue category, which includes Facebook’s Workplace enterprise software division, has reached nearly $ 1.8 billion. in 2020, up nearly 118% from $ 825 million in 2018.

Now, with a key position to fill, Zuck turns to Bosworth again.