Longtime Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer is stepping down after thirteen years and will be replaced by Andrew Bosworth, another Facebook veteran executive.
Mark Zuckerberg announced the move in an internal company memo Wednesday. Schroepfer — or Schrep, as he's known around the industry — has been a public face at the company for years and helped lead its AI development, VR teams and blockchain efforts. He will take a newly created "senior fellow" role in order to make time for his family and philanthropic efforts, he wrote in an internal blog post.
"It has been a privilege to lead our technology teams during a time of incredible growth & advancement," Schroepfer tweeted. "I am proud of what the team has achieved, from unleashing the benefits of AI & bringing VR to life to connecting more people around the world through technology." According to a new Facebook SEC filing, Schroepfer first informed the company of his plans just two days ago.
In recent years, Schroepfer has been called on repeatedly to explain and defend the way Facebook works, often in the midst of one of the company's scandals. In 2018, following revelations about how Cambridge Analytica had abused Facebook data, a UK parliamentary committee called for Zuckerberg to testify; they got Schroepfer instead. As CTO he oversaw all of Facebook's moderation and content systems, helped lead the company's shift to remote work during the pandemic and oversaw much of its push into VR and AR.
He also led a dramatic expansion in Facebook's computing capacity, helping build a world-class engineering organization that is considered on par with cloud computing giants like AWS, Microsoft and Google. Facebook opened its first data center in Prineville, Oregon in 2009, and now operates 18 data centers around the world.
Schroepfer only the latest high-profile executive to leave Facebook. Fidji Simo, who oversaw the Facebook app, left earlier this year to be Instacart's new CEO. Carolyn Everson, one of the Facebook's most important ad executives, followed suit. (Instacart has been pillaging Facebook's ranks for some time now, actually.) David Fischer, the company's chief revenue officer, said he's leaving by the end of 2021.
Bosworth — or Boz, as he's known — currently manages Facebook's augmented reality and VR teams and has been with the company since 2006. Making him CTO seems to be a signal of intent for Facebook, as it seeks to develop the hardware and software required to make the metaverse happen. He has also been one of Facebook's most visible executives talking about issues of privacy and security, particularly as he has launched products like Portal. And it's a clear step up for one of Zuckerberg's longest-serving and most senior lieutenants.
Bosworth is a different personality from Schroepfer, though. Where Schroepfer once famously teared up in an interview with The New York Times about Facebook's content moderation problems, Bosworth has shown a fondness for stirring the pot, most famously with his "The Ugly" memo that defended Facebook's actions as "de facto good" as long as the company continued to connect people, no matter the side effects or consequences. He said at the time that he didn't agree with what he'd written, and that his aim "was to bring to the surface issues I felt deserved more discussion with the broader company." Of course, that discussion is now happening in the open, in Congress and courtrooms around the world. And now Boz will be thrust into even more of it.
The news was met with concern by some former Facebook staffers, including former Director of Product Management for Civic Integrity Samidh Chakrabarti, who left the company earlier this month. "For those who care about platforms operating in societally responsible ways, I can't even begin to tell you how worrisome I find this news about a post-Schrep [Facebook]," he tweeted. "Context: After I left [Facebook] earlier this month, many existing employees asked me who could now best be their ally on matters of societal import. Who was on my short list every single time? Schrep. So this is indeed significant."