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Why “Big Tech” management tactics enabled them to grow big with Alex Kantrowitz

Luke Szyrmer February 23, 2021 98


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My name is Luke Szyrmer, and if you are new here, I am the author of the book Align Remotely and I help teams thrive and achieve more together when working remotely. Find out more at alignremotely.com.

About Alex Kantrowitz

Today we are speaking with Alex Kantrowitz, a tech reporter that’s focussed on Big Tech and author of the book Always Day One, where he goes into how all managers from any industry can apply the management practices in play that helped Big Tech get big…not just technology. On this episode we focus on Amazon, Facebook, and Google although he goes into a lot more in his book. This was recorded before Jeff Bezos announced he would be stepping down as CEO of amazon, so it already puts a different spin on some of the comments we were making at the time.

On the episode we talk about:

  • The brewing regulatory and consumer backlash against big technology companies, and where these companies may have lost their way
  • How social media bubbles are undermining our culture, with a focus on retweets and sharing in particular
  • How you can apply specific management practices from these big companies, regardless of which industry you are in

Links Discussed

Transcript

[00:00:00.085] 
Only if we do that will Facebook survive in the mobile era. And I spoke to Dr. Burke about this actually. I went and met with him for the book and told me, like, yeah, my reaction is probably like I don’t really know about that first, but make a compelling case, take a team and build a prototype of what you’re trying to get at. And we’ll take a look and so on. Draycott ran with it and very quickly built an app that was much better than the Facebook hybrid model.

[00:00:27.415] 
Facebook eventually switched to that. So Zuckerberg, listen, change the way that he ship products, change the way he hired. And now Facebook makes more than 90 percent of its revenue off of mobile devices. So just goes to show you, like if Zuckerberg said, no, I’m the visionary and this is how we build a Facebook, Facebook would be dead. But instead, he was a facilitator. He said, OK, someone who I hired, who I trust has a good idea in terms of what our future is going to be.

[00:00:53.965] 
And it’s not the way I see the world, but it’s a compelling enough case that we’re going to make this move. And you ended up saving Facebook that way. You are listening to the online remotely podcast, the show dedicated to helping lead distributed teams under difficult circumstances. I’m the host look Szyrmer and I’ve participated in a run distributed teams for almost a decade. As a practitioner, I’m speaking with experts on leadership, strategic alignment and work to help you navigate the issues start facing after you get.

[00:01:35.385] 
Welcome, welcome, welcome back. My name is Luke Szyrmer, and if you’re new here, I am the author of the book A Line Remotely, and I help teams thrive and achieve more together when working remotely. And you can find out more about that at a line remotely dot com. So today on the podcast, we’re speaking with Alex Kantrowitz, a tech reporter that’s focused on big tech host to the absolutely amazing big technology podcast and also the author of the book, Always Day One, where he goes into how all managers from any industry can apply the management practices in play that help big tech get big, not just in the technology industry.

[00:02:15.045] 
So on this episode, we focus primarily on Amazon, Facebook and Google, although he goes into a lot more in his book. This was recorded before Jeff Bezos announced that he would be stepping down as CEO of Amazon. So it already puts a slightly different spin on some of the comments we were making at the time of recording. So specifically on this episode, we talk about the brewing regulatory and consumer backlash against big technology companies and where these companies may have lost their way, how social media bubbles are undermining our culture with a focus on tweets and sharing in particular, and also how you can apply specific management practices from these big companies, regardless of which industry you’re in.

[00:02:56.955] 
And let’s get on with the show. Alex, welcome to the podcast. It’s good to be here. Can you say a few words about how you got into writing about big tech and why that’s been a particular area of interest for you?

[00:03:13.195] 
Yeah, so I started as an advertising professional. I was buying ads for New York City’s Economic Development Corporation and then spent some time selling ad tech in New York City. And then I went into journalism because I saw the press and the reality weren’t really matching very well. Just being an industry. I was like, we could tell better stories. And I always like the idea of doing some writing on the side and said, heck, why don’t I just do this full time?

[00:03:38.875] 
It’s way more fun. So I started writing about the ad tech companies for Advertising Age, and in the early 2010s, I was writing about companies that people never heard of, like you mean to mobile and all these other things. And what I saw was that the money going to ad tech companies was drying up and moving west. It was going to Facebook, it was going to Google and Snapchat and Twitter. And I eventually told myself, look, you have two options.

[00:04:05.005] 
One is stay in New York and write obituaries, which is a great job, or go to California and be where the action is.

[00:04:15.185] 
And I decided to go to the where the action was going, and I knew I had to cover for him to stay relevant, and so I wrote cold email to the newly hired bureau chief of BuzzFeed as they tried to build out a San Francisco office. And the subject line was, I want in. And it was basically like, hey, listen, I know what you’re doing over there. It looks good to me. And here’s how I think I could bring some value and I’d love to be a part of it.

[00:04:41.765] 
And he wrote back to me a month later and said, All right, well, we have a phone call and eventually hired me. And I was part of the founding team of that bureau in twenty fifteen. And then stuff just started to get really interesting with Facebook after that. And I’ve been here ever since. So it started with Facebook for you then Facebook being the gateway drug of sorts. Yeah, I had done some stuff on Google, so they were a focus.

[00:05:06.925] 
But Facebook and Twitter to me, I thought they were interesting for two reasons, a from a business perspective. And B, I just knew that the decisions they made were shaping the way that we consume and share information. And that felt like a big story to me. And I think what happens is you see the story with the money first and then society second. And the fact that all this advertising money was going to these companies meant that people who had to show EROI understood how important they were for driving conversation and influencing people.

[00:05:39.445] 
And almost by accident, having seen that first giving my position at added, I showed up here early. There’s been a boom of tech reporting recently because people started to realize that these are more than just gadgets. They are platforms that influence society. I guess I just watched it all unfold in the past five or six years where they’ve now become central, not just to the tech conversation. But to the national and the international conversation, and I think there’s been an advantage in getting here when I did, because I was able to build relationships with people like Adam Seri, who ran the news feed and now runs Instagram and not like we don’t play basketball on the weekends, although I know he’s a basketball fan.

[00:06:22.565] 
But we had been in product meetings when he was talking about the changes they made to the news feed. And so that’s similar with Zucker. Burke, of course, when you cover that, you want to get in touch with the CEO as soon as you can. But now we’ve met somewhere around and we’ve met three times at this point. Yeah. So it’s it’s been an interesting process. So in terms of the wider social impact, is there a way to make the incentives of these social media companies to be more aligned with what kind of effects people day to day or not really?

[00:06:51.995] 
Yeah, I think it has, actually. So there’s a couple of things. The fear of what the government will do to them is quite possibly going to change the way that they act right now. You have Democrats who run the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate, and they don’t like these companies. And I do think that their best option right now is to self regulate and cross their fingers. And so you could see better behavior being inspired that way.

[00:07:18.455] 
This week on my publication, Big Technology, I published an internal memo from a Facebook vice president, Andrew Bosworth, who told employees that they need to start prioritizing building the products that respect user privacy, even if that harms the user experience. So basically indicated Facebook had put Reinking the feed and building sharing tools and getting the best content in front of people. At the expense of user privacy, and he said basically that’s no longer going to be the way we can do business.

[00:07:47.995] 
And so this is, I think, a direct result of knowing what the heck is coming for Facebook, which is some seriously angry Democrats registered for their business. Right at the second side is that doesn’t get discussed too often. But I think it should be discussed as people often talk about these companies, oh, they’re more powerful than government. We lobby government as citizens to get what we want to show our interests, and I do think that people are going to start to organize and in a company like Amazon’s case, say, hey, Amazon, we are your customers and we care not only about getting a package to our door in 24 hours or less.

[00:08:30.985] 
We want to make sure that the way that it’s delivered happens ethically and that you treat your work as well and you ensure that not going to get sick in your fulfillment centers. And and that’s important to us as well. And so I think that if we can have a customer based revolution, so to speak, where we realize that we can get together and start to lobby and push our interests, because ultimately by yelling that these companies are too powerful will only get you so far that you a hoarse voice of an angry neighbor.

[00:09:04.005] 
But organizing actually can make a difference. And I think that’s the direction we’re going to go.

[00:09:09.325] 
Let’s shift gears a little bit. What’s your take on Amazon?

[00:09:12.805] 
Look, I think that Amazon will squeeze as much as it possibly can as an author myself. I think it’s important for there to be options for people to buy anywhere. And that’s why independent bookstores are super important, for instance, and. I would love to be able to go into small bookstores in that community and find my book always, they want to pick it up and sign a couple and leave it. And it’s important for me that it’s accessible there.

[00:09:39.485] 
I think the fact that we seem to be heading towards the Amazon unification, not just the books, but of retail in general, has to be concerning in many ways. And I think that’s a main motivation. Why I wrote the book was because I saw some interesting ways that these companies do work and the way that they lead and their processes and felt that if the rest of the economy starts to co-opt them, we can start giving these companies a run for their money.

[00:10:09.165] 
So specifically, I guess, looking at Amazon, the approach of managing teams and departments is APIs, is that something that what do you think of that? Do you want to elaborate a little bit more in terms of the context? Yeah, yeah, sure. In 2002, Bezos put out a memo which basically told his department, sheriffs, that all of their services need to be available to other people within the company in a way that can be called by a programmer as an application program interface in the same way that in the same way that some of their products already were working at the time.

[00:10:50.805] 
So like RWC, you can just call a call up an instance of HWC and it spins up. So he basically wanted different business functions in the company to work in a similar way as an overall design principle of how the company works. What are your thoughts on that now? Yeah, I can get smart. So I think the way that Amazon looks at business is very simple. It splits into two categories. One category of one category of work is what part of this work is being used to support existing products or flagship businesses.

[00:11:23.805] 
And then the second category is what part of this work is being used to be inventive, generate new ideas. And Bezos is obsessed with making sure that they can use technology and use any shortcut they possibly can to minimize that work, that’s just about supporting existing products so that its employees can use more time to create new things. And so he looks for any way to become more efficient, more collaborative inside a company that he can, because this is what I call the book always do one, it is always a state of reinvention.

[00:11:59.145] 
A company on his first day. Doesn’t have to spend 90 percent of its time maintaining its flagship product. It can build what’s right for the company and for the market at that time. And so with Amazon, it’s a big ass company right now. It’s like one point two million people. And you have to have a unrelenting focus on operations in a way that Bezos does in order to not get clunky and bureaucratic and fall apart, because certainly history would point.

[00:12:26.355] 
That’s the direction you’re going once you get that big. So how would managers in a non tech company apply this? I think that you can definitely look for ways to make your employees more efficient and cut out some of the repetitive work that I’m sure everyone who’s a manager knows that they do. But also, I’m going to push back on the idea that there is such thing as a company that isn’t a tech company anymore. Obviously, not every company sells technology.

[00:13:01.025] 
We don’t have every company in the world making something that you build once. And you could sell infinite amount of times because the power of the Internet. But we all do rely on technology in the workplace. And I would say that if you’re a manager at a quote unquote non tech company, you can still look at ways to apply internal technology in order to reduce that amount of work that you have supporting existing products. And just to give one example, at the beginning of the book, I talk about this company called Your iPad, which does a robotic process, automation.

[00:13:30.055] 
Which the industry likes to call RPA because everyone loves acronyms, and with RPA, you have car companies and retailers and medical firms and even the US government who is taking training this technology that can take over repetitive things that you do inside your company, for instance, writing higher letters or moving data between spreadsheets or even like filling out instant reports. If you’re an insurance agent and using this very basic and widely available technology in order to make their companies look a little bit more like Amazon.

[00:14:05.395] 
In fact. When I was in Seattle, that’s how I found out about my path, because I was speaking with someone who had worked for Amazon and they were like, hey, you should check this company out there doing a lot of the things that we used to do in the retail organization before everything was automated. So I do think that’s available to more than just like Microsoft and Google. Nice, nice. What about Google, actually, Google and Amazon, where they’re going with voices?

[00:14:32.095] 
It’s one thing to talk about privacy on Facebook, but with all of our phones being used as voice interface devices and listening to everything that’s going on, how do you think that’s going to play out in terms of the potential backlash is building against these companies at the moment?

[00:14:48.745] 
Yeah, it’s a good question. I think what we’re going to see is there’s going to be a battle between privacy advocates and consumer preferences. And it is interesting to me because there’s a very loud vocal group who rightly is pointing out a lot of the privacy issues we have with these companies. But by and large, they haven’t gotten most people on board with them. I think most people, when they think about Google, they don’t think. You know, listening to me through my phone or knows everything I do because I tell it in the search box that they think of a company that’s like extremely useful to their lives.

[00:15:27.005] 
They use Google Maps to get around. They use Gmail to communicate. They use the search box to find information. Scott Galloway, author of The Four who we shared the same agent and the same publisher. And I was inspired very much by his book before I wrote mine. He compares Google to God. And you used to ask God, what would my kid get healthy? They’re very sick now. You type it into Google. My kid has this disease.

[00:15:53.875] 
What is the prognosis? And so the general public loves, by and large, loves these services that these companies provide. And just take the echo, for instance, Amazon by privacy advocates and labor advocates is painted as the potentially the worst actor in the history of the world. Yet there are tens of millions of echo devices in people’s homes baked into the speakers, into microwaves. I don’t know if it’s in the refrigerator yet, but certainly in clocks, it’s everywhere and it’s in glasses now to listen to people.

[00:16:30.995] 
And so it’s actually curious as a question that I struggle with or I’m trying to figure out. Which is what’s going on, are these issues not very important to people? Which is a possibility. The privacy advocates just getting their messaging wrong. Another possibility, or are these big companies just too powerful and overriding everything? And, yeah, I think we’re going to see this debate amplified when it comes to voice computing for sure. I see the issue, but I have an echo in my room and I don’t feel like Amazon is spying on me.

[00:17:07.545] 
I know there have been cases where they’ve sent stuff to the cops, which to me is worrying. But you also have your your phone is capturing your location at all times and that could go to the police. So are you being surveilled that way? It’s tough living, living in a modern society and trying to reckon with these issues. But I think they’ll become more prominent as we go from computing, which is basically just a screen and a keyboard to computing that is done through our voices and then soon with our eyes, with augmented reality, which is probably about five years away, but definitely coming.

[00:17:42.115] 
Yeah, yeah, it’s I think the voice one in particular is of interest because, I mean, I have a six year old and that’s how she interacts with the mobile. She doesn’t even need to know how to write. Personally, I suspect it’s more just that people don’t get the implications of a lot of this stuff to your to your point of it being a communication issue more than anything, I would think. Yeah.

[00:18:02.275] 
The privacy advocates, they’ve done a great job highlighting what’s wrong and. They’re up against trillion dollar companies, so that’s tough. But the messaging needs to be better because ultimately I think people do have an implicit knowledge that these companies have as much on us as they do. You just see it as you use the product, right? If I watch the longer YouTube video on a subject, it’s going to be recommended. We’re starting to become in sync with algorithms in some way.

[00:18:32.165] 
On Tic-Tac, for instance, people probably take actions that they will show that, OK, I like this video instead of even clicking, like maybe they’ll let it loop a few times. So the algorithm will send them more biographies of us and we’re turning them back.

[00:18:47.195] 
And so on that note, the one of the things that I really liked on the podcast episode with Mitchell that you did was your suggestion about reducing sharing by these companies as a way of limiting the bubble effect, which which seems to happen in some of the social media companies. Do you know if these companies are thinking of going in that direction or is that likely to be something that would need to be imposed on them?

[00:19:10.925] 
I think they were thinking about doing it and then decided they didn’t care. So just to talk a little bit about the problem. People talk a lot about content, moderation on social media. Are they taking the right groups on or putting the right groups off or whatever? They talk about the data that they’re collecting as an issue? We never really hear about the fact that they’ve introduced this era of frictionless sharing that’s empowered the fringe, that’s gotten us all angry at each other and is actively destructive to thoughtful conversations.

[00:19:42.185] 
And the reason is, let’s just take one example. If I see a story that says Hillary Clinton is a space alien and I don’t like Hillary Clinton, it’s one thing to copy that link, put it and to compose window and hit write a message on it and hit send with my avatar saying, I believe this. You’re less likely to do that because you’ll lose credibility with anyone you’ve interacted with. And by the way, they’re all there on social media.

[00:20:05.645] 
So I’ve got a great look. If you see someone else do it and you’re just able to hit one button without really thinking, let’s say it comes across your feet. Hillary Clinton is a space alien. Like I don’t like Hillary Clinton. Tweet, You almost remove all accountability for passing along that message to Hillary. Tweets are not endorsement mean. That’s true. And that should have been the first sign we should make retreat’s an endorsement because otherwise, what accountability do we have for what we’ve just shared with people?

[00:20:35.915] 
Is that the same thing with quotes in general, like historically even going back like 50, 100 years? If you quote somebody, it can be a way to absolve yourself of any responsibility of what comes after the beginning of the quote, no doubt. But you are always responsible for the context. And I think social media takes it one step further because because you almost absolve yourself of responsibility. If you don’t put any context in there, you’re completely detached from the message.

[00:21:05.045] 
So free tweets are an endorsement. When someone posts fake news, I can retweeted. I didn’t endorse it. She said it might be interesting for you to see. And when you have the fact that we share based on, for instance, in emotions and the fact that we’re not accountable for what we pass along, that’s when you end up with information ecosystem like the one we have today, which is extremely unhealthy and doing serious damage to society.

[00:21:29.015] 
So you said that at the moment they don’t look like they’re that interested in changing it. So it does seem like you would need to be more regulatory. Yeah, but if the regulation can even can even do that, you know, it does it does come across come against the First Amendment. But here’s one example. Twitter for the twenty twenty election actually changed its reach button. So you could have just hit the native free tweet and then pass something along.

[00:21:54.155] 
You had to first get to this, quote, tweet screen where you had to add context and then you could decide, do I want to add context? I just want to pass a law. But it just made it slightly more difficult to reach. And what did Twitter do when it found the results? It didn’t say we found that this didn’t improve the health of conversations on our platform, therefore we’re going back. It said people retweeted 20 percent less.

[00:22:19.675] 
They didn’t really like this. We’re going back. Come on. Why did you do the experiment in the first place, if not to improve the health of conversations? Twitter said it’s tried to it’s going to build everything, looking at the health of conversations. And and so to make this very significant experiment about one of the major detriments, I should write about this because I think it’s gone unnoticed. But I like to think that I think you’ve done this experiment and then on the other side of it come out.

[00:22:48.185] 
And one of the key results is that people retweeted less. So therefore, this didn’t work to me is just absolutely ridiculous. And that’s why I don’t think they have the will to do anything significant.

[00:22:58.745] 
But it didn’t work because it lowered advertising revenue, I guess. So if they’re measuring it by that standard or the same. Yeah. And then advertising revenue engagement, which is a proxy for advertising revenue, I think at the end of the day, the long story short is that if they did this because they want more engagement or because they want more money and didn’t do it for reasons of conversational health, then everything Twitter’s told us about caring about the health on this platform is a complete lie.

[00:23:29.765] 
Moving into the book again a little bit more. One of your really interesting insights for me at least, is that. You found the focus on facilitation among managers in these tech companies to be really powerful. What is it about facilitation that helps these companies do so well as opposed to more traditional, let’s say, hierarchical types of management?

[00:23:55.475] 
Yeah. So when I got to Silicon Valley again after that time covering the ad industry, I heard a little bit about Steve Jobs and tech leaders. And I thought the biggest compliment you can give someone is that they are visionary. And as I did research on the book, I realized that’s incorrect. And that facilitator should be the biggest compliment that you can get the leader. Here’s why. A century ago, company would last sixty seven years on the S&P.

[00:24:20.575] 
Five hundred now, the last 15 years. And the reason is it’s because it takes the least amount of time to create a new company than it ever did and the least amount of money. And when you have that, the companies that used to be insulated from competition now could face competition from small, smaller companies who have taken advantage of the circumstances very quickly. And and it’s really difficult to fend off that competition. And along with that, we’ve gone through some meeting, some major shifts in terms of the way that this world operates.

[00:24:56.005] 
We’ve gone from a place where 30 years ago most people didn’t have computers. And if you had a personal computer, it was terrible. You thought it was stuff back then. But let’s be honest, it had less processing power than an iPhone today by orders of magnitude. Yeah. And so we’ve gone through major shifts where all of a sudden we’ve gone to an age where we started using computers, the Internet built out. We moved from desktop based Web to a mobile based web and and things just keep on evolving.

[00:25:28.675] 
We talked about voice. There’s another big evolution we’re about to go through just to to set the context here, looking at the different lifespans that these companies have, it used to be you could basically run your whole existence with one good idea, right? Sixty seven years. Now, that idea. Well, if you’re the best one of the best companies in the world take you for 15 years. So you need three or four times the amount of different ideas than you did back then.

[00:25:54.085] 
And that’s why I think it’s important for today’s leaders to be facilitators, because to think that any one person that back in the day you were a visionary, you built that widget factory and you crushed it. But now you can’t do that anymore. You have to reinvent yourself over and over again. And I think any one person is going to have that singular ability to come up with new ideas for a company to reinvent itself is foolhardy. Actually, it takes the brainpower of multiple individuals.

[00:26:22.405] 
And so leaders that actively go out and to their company and seek ideas from their employees and build channels for their employees to get them ideas and build systems that will minimize the amount of work that employees do, maintaining flagship products and maximize the amount of time they have to to invent and reinvent. Those are the companies that are going to do well. So a leader who’s a facilitator, who asks for feedback, who is approachable, doesn’t think that they’re the source of all knowledge and all good ideas is actually a much better position in the long term than your traditional, quote unquote, visionary.

[00:26:55.075] 
What would be a good way for someone who wants to move more in this direction like a manager? How would you suggest they go about doing that or thinking about it? I think that, like an outline this a little bit and all they want, but learning how to build a feedback culture and learning the right type of feedback culture that you can build superimportant, when most companies think about feedback, it’s typically you have somebody if you say, I want everyone to be on the same page at a feedback culture, it generally means I want my people to know where they stand so they’re not surprised on the review.

[00:27:30.895] 
That’s generally what most people think of what the feedback culture with companies like Netflix or Bridgewater like letting people know how they’re doing is the most important part of the feedback culture. I think that’s wrong. I think that when you build a feedback culture, what you really want to do is signal to employees that I want to hear your perspective and you should be open to my perspective. And I think what a company gets pretty good at delivering and receiving feedback.

[00:27:55.915] 
It becomes a company where people at a lower position in the corporation or in a different division feel comfortable walking up to any division head and saying, I think we should do this differently. Or they feel comfortable with someone, tells them, hey, I think that we should build this product or change things. They don’t get defensive. They’re actually open to it. And in multiple instances in Facebook’s history, this has actually happened, whereas Zuckerberg built a culture so open to feedback.

[00:28:23.765] 
I’m talking internal feedback. External feedback is a different thing with Facebook, different kind of words. But internally, people have felt empowered to come up to Zuckerberg and have actually saved the company that way. And I can give you one example if you’re up for it. Sure. There was a guy named Coria Andraka and Facebook who started that the company was building for mobile as we were going through this mobile shift, entirely the wrong way. So Facebook like to iterate over and over again with its products, sometimes shipping different code and making tests multiple times, multiple times a day on the desktop website.

[00:28:55.585] 
And that’s what move fast and break things was right. It was let’s just keep pushing code. And when when these tests work, we keep them as part of the product. And when they don’t, OK, we’re done with it. And you just couldn’t move fast on mobile apps because you have to push them through Apple and Android approval system. And that didn’t work very well. And so what I do is try to shoehorn the desktop way of building Facebook into the mobile app by building a hybrid, so it’s had a code that was like the skin of a mobile app.

[00:29:27.515] 
But as soon as you started tapping through it, you ended up getting directed to a mobile browser that would load a mobile version of Facebook and you could use Facebook that way. The problem is that experience was terrible and having such a bad experience was an existential threat for Facebook because we were really starting to move into a world where mobile usage was going to dominate, desktop usage was going to be on the decline. And Andraka went up to Zukerberg and was like, listen, I know you’re committed to this way of doing what we do, and I know you haven’t really even hired any engineers that can code natively.

[00:30:02.225] 
You only have Web engineers. But if we’re going to survive through this shift, we have to change the way that we’re not only changed, but our apass change. The way we ship could change the way our organization functions, which is where we hire. And only if we do that will Facebook survive. And the mobilier. And I spoke to Dr. Burke about this, actually, I went and met with him for the book and me, like you have my reactions probably like I don’t really know about that first, but make a compelling case, take a team and build a prototype of what you’re trying to get at.

[00:30:35.315] 
And we’ll take a look. And so we ran with it and very quickly built an app that was much better than the Facebook hybrid model. Facebook eventually switched to that. So Zuckerberg, listen, change the way that he ship products, change the way you hired. And now Facebook makes more than 90 percent of its revenue off of mobile devices. So it just goes to show you, like if Zuckerberg said, no, I’m the visionary and this is how we build a Facebook, Facebook would be dead.

[00:31:03.035] 
But instead, he was a facilitator. He said, OK, someone who I hired, who I trust has a good idea in terms of what our future is going to be. And it’s not the way I see the world, but it’s a compelling enough case that we’re going to make this move. And you ended up saving Facebook that way. So what about external feedback and Facebook basically piqued my interest. I didn’t want to leave that hanging.

[00:31:26.435] 
Yeah, I think that Facebook is a fascinating case because. That company is so used to ignoring what the outside world says about it, and that’s because every time Facebook released a product, people would say this sucks, like when they released the news in September. Twenty six, every Facebook user was up in arms and join groups like ten thousand people against the news feed. And that was a big number on Facebook at the time because they just didn’t like the idea and they stuck with it.

[00:31:53.825] 
And the feed ended up becoming the core to a convergence. And so they’re used to people saying that they don’t know what they’re doing and sticking it out and eventually having people go along with it. Breaking out messenger from Facebook is another example. People hate that. And they ended up building a billion user mobile app because they had to. But that’s also shut them off in some ways from criticism outside because they got into the habit of ignoring what people say when they criticize the company, understanding that would be good for the company.

[00:32:25.175] 
So I do think they need to be more open to external feedback, obviously, to sustain themselves. There is some good signs they hired some more adversarial thinkers. So Facebook needs to be so filled with techno optimists that they never really appreciate the downsides of their product, as they did hire some adversarial thinkers, people who had worked for a spy agencies, tech academics, journalists who look for holes in the system, media bias. It could pressure tested systems and injected them into the company culture to the point where they’re now starting to comment.

[00:33:01.185] 
On the ideas for new products and features and just making people aware of what’s going on, the external pressure forced them to hire differently internally. But it still isn’t fully complete the circuit there. I’m not trying to say that Facebook should be swayed by everything its external critics say. You do need to have some backbone, but you can’t ignore it as a practice or discount it as a practice, which unfortunately I think has been the case there.

[00:33:26.275] 
Where is the best place for people to find out more about the book and then and the other things you do?

[00:33:32.155] 
Yes. So Always Day One is available through all major booksellers. You get an Amazon, Barnes Noble or Book Bound if you want to support your independent bookstores. Just and then I do a podcast every Wednesday. It’s called Big Technology Podcast. It’s available on all the apps, so Spotify, Apple podcasts, overcast, whatever podcast app, you use it. So I made sure to get it on Twitter, Facebook, like, all right, come on, it’s time already.

[00:34:02.105] 
And every Wednesday, the show has an interview with big tech insider or an outside agitator, and they’re fun deluce, unscripted. And it’s been so fun. So those are the two places that I recommend. Yeah, that’s great. Yeah, that was a that was a great discussion, but, yeah, I think my biggest takeaway is the way that Alex talked about and articulated Amazon’s focus on building software. We’re doing it once and then either using it to sell or to streamline workflow or to eliminate costs pretty much in perpetuity.

[00:34:40.465] 
And that is something you can do in pretty much any industry, not just in tech. And it’s going to be interesting to watch how things are going to change going forward. And all the Bezos is kind of becoming hands off and focusing more on Blue Origin and his whole space race. If you like this episode, you’ll probably enjoy the previous episode with Dave Mastronardi for more detail about how to facilitate remotely as discussed in this episode. Here’s a quick clip.

[00:35:09.085] 
The term that I use a lot is fuzzy goals. You create these artifacts and it creates this momentum. It creates this energy. The biggest change for me was doing it in public with groups in the teams and getting the work done. While you were in the process of having the meeting or doing the workshop, it wasn’t something that you would have to come back to. Later, a lot of it was. The ins and outs of the facilitation. How do I set this up, how do I get us to that point in the meeting or in the workshop that it all came together?

[00:35:45.865] 
Because sometimes, especially early on, you wonder why are we doing this exercise?

[00:35:51.495] 
Why did we use that particular question to frame what it is that we’re doing?

[00:35:58.335] 
But then some point later on, you realize how it all comes together, and that was something for me that felt like magic.

[00:36:05.685] 
Make sure you subscribe if you want to get more interviews like this and leave a review where you consume podcasts, if you like the show or forward it to a friend and also feel free to reach out to me on the socials where I use the handle aligned remotely with any feedback, questions or topic ideas. See you next time. Thanks for listening to this episode of the online Ramogi podcast, if you enjoy the show, please leave a review on iTunes, Google podcast or wherever you get your podcast.

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