Tag: facebook

The best thing about working at Facebook, according to someone who left and came back (GOOG)

John Hegeman

Facebook gives its employees a lot of sweet perks.

But what makes Facebook a unique place to work isn’t its vibrant campuses or cushy salaries. It’s the sheer, insane scale of how many people use its product around the world. 

That’s according to John Hegeman, director of engineering for advertising delivery, ecommerce, and analytics. 

Hegeman is behind which ads you see when you’re scrolling through your Facebook News Feed, because he oversees the online auction that designates which brands pay what to get their content snuggled in amid the status updates and news links on the social network.  

The system’s goal: To serve you relevant stories — ad and organic-wise — that you’ll actually be interested in, while preventing advertisers from gaming the system.

Hegeman first joined Facebook way back in 2007, right around when it first launched its self-service ad platform. And he’s been hustling on different ad systems almost ever since.

In 2013, Hegeman took a year-and-some change break from Facebook to work at the Q&A site Quora. Why’d he come back? In part, because he missed the scale of working for a ~$300 billion company with 1.6 billion monthly active users. 

“You can step back and think, ‘We made this change, what’s the impact it has on the world?'” he tells Business Insider. “The number of people you’re affecting, the number of businesses, and the magnitude of that… it’s hard to match that anywhere that’s not Facebook.”

The other great part about working at the social network is the people and collaboration, he says.  

“There are so many diversely talented people,” he says. “No matter what kind of problem you’re working on, there will be someone here who is one of the best people in the world at that thing.” 

Tied to that, he noticed in the one year that he was gone that the ad team became much more connected with the rest of the company. 

“I think that’s been a really positive change,” he says. “We’re partnering more closely with other teams. It manifests itself in the product because ads are more tightly integrated with the News Feeds, including where they actually show up on people’s mobile devices, and also in terms of relevance. Both on the product side and on the organizational side, there’s more cross-pollination.”

SEE ALSO: How an ‘oddball’ team created one of Facebook’s biggest threats to Google

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Q&A: Why Facebook and Asana’s cofounder thinks startups should invest in culture in a downturn, and why Slack isn’t a threat

Dustin Moskovitz headshot

Dustin Moskovitz worked hard to build Facebook, but looking back, he thinks the social network he cofounded succeeded in spite of all the marathon work hours, not because of it. 

Now at his own startup, Moskovitz is hoping lightening strikes twice, but he is putting an emphasis on building a company that’s healthy both financially and for its employees. 

It will be a challenge as the market squeezes startups and many are feeling the pain of investors pulling back. Despite increased competition in the enterprise space, Moskovitz remains confident that prioritizing culture and business — and not pushing yourself too hard — will keep Asana on top coming out of the downturn. 

Business Insider caught up with Moskovitz after he gave a talk at Startup Grind. Here’s what he had to say on Asana, why it’s important to invest in culture, and why he believes Asana can peacefully coexist with Slack.

The following Q&A has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

BUSINESS INSIDER: Five years in, what’s Asana look like now, and where do you want it to go?

DUSTIN MOSKOVITZ: We’ve really just been developing this work-tracking market, which is a new and emerging market of collaborations software, and I think we’ve just made a lot of progress as establishing this as an important part of how teams work. We now have about 12,000 paying customers, like whole companies that use the product. 

BI: So are you profitable yet if you have 12,000 customers? There’s a big shift happening towards valuing profitability over hypergrowth.

DM: Well I think the important thing is that you’re headed towards profitability. So we’re on an extremely good trend in terms of getting there in the next several years, but we’re not profitable yet. It’s pretty hard to sort of be profitable all along the way, unless you really pull back on your growth. At the same time, if you optimize entirely for growth, you might set up some things that are really hard to shake down the road and just create a business that’s intrinsically not sustainable. So you hear a lot of people talk about unit economics where literally there are some companies that are losing money on every transaction happening on their system.

BI: Well is that you?

DM: [Laughs] No. The reason why we’re not profitable is more about economies of scale. We have some set costs, we have the investment in R&D, and we need to get to a certain scale for those to kind of amortize themselves out. But the intrinsic costs of delivering the service to users, it’s often called gross margin, that’s positive.

BI: A lot of these companies that are feeling the crunch are losing or eliminating some of these aspects of culture. It seems like you’re taking the approach at Asana of investing both in culture and in the business.

DM: Like anything you have to be intentional about how you spend your money on perks and benefits, and I think most companies just carve out a percentage of payroll and then optimize within that. Are you going to spend that on laundry services? Are you going to spend that on healthcare? You have to be smart about that.

Sometimes I think these things get misinterpreted, like a company will drop a benefit, and really it’s because they’re shifting that money that they decided would be more useful for employees. It gets written about as something more symbolic, but I would just point out that things like that are sometimes penny-wise pound foolish. It’s much more important that the cost of delivering the service, the amount you’re investing in R&D, the amount you’re investing in sales and marketing, that those things are sustainable, and the other stuff is just kind of symbolic.

BI: How would you argue companies should invest culture, in a time where they’re cutting back on perks, instead of putting the money elsewhere?

DM: I mean, I generally see this as a false choice. I think there’s very few kinds of culture that you have to spend for. You can really have a budget of $0 for culture and still get a lot done, you know. You just have to talk about it, spend time on it. Really I see those things as optimizing your efficiency because you’ll be able to retain people better, they’ll be more engaged, they’ll be more productive.

So I see it as kind of a false choice of ‘things are constrained so we pull back on culture.’ I would argue that’s the time when you need to invest in culture because only the companies with strong cultures are going to survive that kind of, you know, that kind of friction in the marketplace.

BI: When you say invest, you’re not saying it means monetarily.

DM: No, it’s time. Time and energy. Focus.

BI: Especially in this market conditions where startups are feeling the squeeze, how can employees maintain a positive work-life balance when the rhetoric is to hunker down, work harder?

DM: They can maintain that balance just by being objective about it and really reflecting on what that grinding is costing them. Because I think if you look at any of the actual science and research on this, you get the exact opposite conclusion.

When you push people to work harder you get less out of them. Now it’s not true on very small timescales, you can work hard for a week, you can work hard for a couple weeks. But as soon as you’ve pushed more than like, 60 hours for like 3 or 4 weeks in a row, science shows that you just become less productive and you pay for that. You gotta- you either slow down, or you have to take a vacation and so you think about the longer cycles that these companies are on, for years, they’re actually just shooting themselves in the foot, and burning out employees, and losing productivity.

That’s what I really see as so tragic about it. They think they’re optimizing the business by kind of hurting their employees, but really it’s just the worst of both worlds. They’re not getting anything out of it and they’re hurting people.

They’re not getting anything out of it and they’re hurting people.

BI: In the last couple of years, there have been a lot of enterprise companies that have taken off like wildfire, like Slack. How do you view your relationship with Slack or the other challengers? What’s Asana’s niche in the space?

DM: We really don’t see Slack as a challenger, we’re actually mutual customers. So we use Slack services, Slack uses Asana, and we really see them as complimentary which is why the integration exists. We look at the broader collaboration space, [and] we think of it in terms of these three major buckets. One is sort of files and file sharing and document collaboration, so that’s everybody from Dropbox to Box and like Google Apps. And then messaging and communications that’s really where Slack fits in, but also products like Skype and VoIP services. And then this third category of work tracking is really the market that we’re trying to develop.

BI: Would you ever consider acquiring Dropbox or selling your company to Slack to kind of merge these spaces into a small number of buckets?

DM: You know, it’s really hard to predict like the far future on things, but I would just point out that there’s a large surface area to each of these things. They also are each very conducive to being platforms. So I think there’s a lot of advantage in having a company that’s focused on just one part of the market. Again those parts of the market are very broad and have a lot of depth in themselves. For the foreseeable future I expect all these companies to be separate.

SEE ALSO: Slack grew from 80 to 385 employees in 14 months. Why that worries its CEO

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Facebook’s head of recruiting explains what it’s like to interview there

facebook employees

Facebook is not only the best place to work in America — it’s one of the most desirable employers in the world.

It has 13,000 employees across 64 offices around the globe, and it continues to scale its size and ambition.

Key to this growth is finding exceptionally talented employees who are also committed to Facebook’s mission “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”

Miranda Kalinowski, Facebook’s global head of recruiting, explained to Business Insider what the tech powerhouse looks for and how the interview process works.

“We need to make sure that we’re hiring people who are deeply invested in us, first and foremost,” she said. “And we hire builders. So regardless of whether we’re hiring an engineer or a finance analyst, they’re going to be the people who like to build things.”

Before applicants are hired, they’ll typically go through four or five interviews that gauge their talent and cultural fit.

The first round is a phone interview with a recruiter, who assesses the candidate’s professional experience and passion for the company.

If that goes well, the candidate will then have a “technical” phone interview with someone who already has the job the candidate is applying for. For example, an engineer will be interviewed by a fellow engineer rather than by a recruiter who knows nothing about programming. 

miranda kalinowski facebookAny of these non-recruiter employees selected to do interviews must first undergo intensive training to ensure they know what to look for.

The third interview takes place on site and includes an office tour, which features a demo of the Oculus virtual reality headset to take some of the pressure off the candidate and help them open up.

“It’s very much a two-way street,” Kalinowski said. “They can find out more about us, and we can find out more about them.”

The remaining interviews are subject to the role and department. For example, an engineer may go through a coding interview, where an employee sees how quickly and accurately a candidate can write code on a whiteboard in response to a given situation.

All candidates are subject to hypothetical questions to test how they would respond on the job, as well as logic questions to test how they think — all of which ultimately test whether the person is right for Facebook.

Kalinowski’s favorite interview question, which is also popular among other interviewers there, is: “On your very best day at work — the day you come home and think you have the best job in the world — what did you do?” The interviewer is taught to look for an answer that indicates candidates will be personally driven to stretch themselves at Facebook, since a high level of talent is a prerequisite in the highly competitive tech industry.

The candidates who get hired are the ones who demonstrate that they’re just as excited as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is, Kalinowski said. “Anyone who listens to Mark will hear him say that we’ve still got 5 billion people to connect, so no one should be resting on their laurels. That sense of urgency and energy around it is infectious. “

SEE ALSO: Facebook’s head of recruiting explains the company’s top 3 approaches to finding exceptional employees

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