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

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: This bicycle generator could bring electricity to millions of people living without it