The new face of Facebook
Photo: Lino Mirgeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

The new face of Facebook

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Good morning! Nick Clegg’s promotion to president of Global Affairs has more to do with Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg than it does with Clegg. I'm Issie Lapowsky, and I was an extra on “The OC” when I was 17. AMA.

What Nick Clegg’s big promotion means for Meta

Mark Zuckerberg never wanted much to do with Washington.

It’s easy to forget it’s been less than four years since he was all but dragged kicking and screaming to his first Congressional hearing on the Cambridge Analytica scandal, after first insisting he wasn’t the right guy for the job.

And maybe he wasn’t. In the years since Zuckerberg has taken a more public role in navigating the company’s many global policy problems, things have arguably only gotten worse for the company formerly known as Facebook.

Now, it seems, Zuckerberg wants out. On Wednesday, he announced that Nick Clegg would become the company’s new president of Global Affairs, reporting directly to Zuckerberg and running point on all of the company’s policy work globally.

  • “We need a senior leader at the level of myself (for our products) and Sheryl [Sandberg] (for our business) who can lead and represent us for all of our policy issues globally,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Facebook.
  • As far as title changes go, it’s a negligible one. Clegg had already been more or less doing this job since 2018 when he joined the company.

This change is really about Zuckerberg and Sandberg. Zuckerberg made no secret of the fact that he hopes this will free him up to focus on the company’s products.

  • “As Nick takes on this new leadership role, it will enable me to focus more of my energy on leading the company as we build new products for the future,” he wrote.
  • That’s no small task. Zuckerberg is now in a position he hasn’t really been in before, with user numbers falling on Facebook, investors losing faith and the company’s ad model struggling under new privacy changes.
  • The transition into a metaverse company — whatever that ends up meaning — isn’t just a rebrand to escape from so many years of bad press; it’s a life raft. Navigating that transition is a whole lot trickier when you’re stuck litigating and apologizing for the mistakes of your first 18 years.

It’d be easy to see Clegg’s rise as coming at Sandberg’s expense. And in some ways, of course it is.

  • She was, after all, Facebook’s face in Washington during that rocky period between 2016 and 2018, navigating the Russian propaganda crisis and the fallout of the 2016 election.
  • But since that time, it’s been clear both inside and outside of the company that Sandberg has ceded some of that territory to Clegg.
  • “She’s made a clear effort to be less involved in policy over the last few years,” said Crystal Patterson, a former public policy manager for Facebook, who left the company after seven years last fall.

How the Facebook business model will translate in its new AR- and VR-focused future now falls on her, even as Zuckerberg works on developing products themselves.

  • In a comment on Zuckerberg's post, Sandberg said as much, writing, "The next few years will be a crucial time for our company and our industry as new rules for the internet are written all over the world, and as we set out on our journey to help build the metaverse."

Meanwhile, Clegg's promotion will give him the gravitas he needs to "get higher-level meetings" with world leaders, said Katie Harbath, Facebook’s former public policy director, who left the company last spring after 10 years.

  • Plus, Harbath said, the shift “makes sense given Mark and Sheryl's lack of interest in policy.”
  • Patterson, for one, called Clegg "the best thing they have going in leadership."

In practice, Clegg’s promotion may not end up being the magical escape chute Zuckerberg and Sandberg want it to be. At least, not in the big moments. If there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s that when it comes to Facebook, lawmakers are rarely interested in talking to the clean-up crew. More often, they want a word with the people who actually made the mess.

Issie Lapowsky

A version of this story appeared on Protocol.com. Read it here.

On the calendar

So you decided to go multicloud. Now what?

It’s never been easier to use multiple cloud providers for modern tech infrastructure needs, but should you use multiple cloud providers? A panel of experts will explain the arguments for and against multicloud computing and how businesses should think about their options as the market evolves. Join us at 10 a.m. PT March 2. RSVP here.

A MESSAGE FROM ESRI

The global nature of business makes tracking your company's operations trickier than ever before. Overseeing supply chains and an international, dispersed workforce is tough. Maintaining visibility over all aspects of your operations is even tougher. The changing norms of business make location services no longer a "nice to have" but a "need to have" — and at the forefront of the geospatial intelligence revolution is Esri.

Learn more

People are talking

The U.S. is losing the 5G race, Eric Schmidt said, and it's a serious problem:

  • "The pathetic U.S. performance in the 5G race is a sign of America’s larger failure to keep up with China on strategically important technologies. China is also ahead of America in high-tech manufacturing, green energy and many applications of artificial intelligence."

Countries trying to bring home chip manufacturing have their work cut out, former Arm CEO Simon Segars said:

  • “You’re going to have to spend a lot of money and you’re going to have to spend it for a long period of time. Whether governments have the stomach for that over the long term remains to be seen.”

The Knot’s Esther Lee thinks crypto will change the way people pay for weddings:

  • “I already know of some jewelers in the game who are receiving cryptocurrency for payments.”

Lattice’s Jack Altman said employees now expect more from their management tools:

  • “People still need community and connection … That’s going to put more pressure on software systems to stand in for the water cooler.”

Making moves

Spotify bought Chartable and Podsights, two podcast marketing and ad attribution companies, for an undisclosed amount. It’s Spotify’s first acquisition this year.

Several crypto firms formed a coalition called TRUST, with the goal of securely transmitting customer data.

YouTube is seeking a Web3 director with experience in crypto-focused product management and design.

Kyanna Sabanoglu is Meta’s new lead counsel of IP litigation. She was most recently an associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

Kendall Collins left his CMO position at Okta. John Zissimos, the company’s chief digital officer, will fill the role.

Andrew Djalali is Argyle’s new SVP of Revenue. Djalali most recently worked at Box as global director of Commercial Sales.

Harold Byun joined AppOmni as chief product officer. Byun has held leadership roles at companies including ServiceNow and Skyhigh Networks.

In other news

Google will stop cross-app tracking on Android phones now, too. The privacy change could create another challenge for platforms like Facebook, which accuses Apple’s cross-app tracking rule of hurting its ads business.

Belgium workers can now ask for a four-day workweek. The Belgium government is also requiring employers to take on more-flexible working hours and let workers completely disconnect after working hours.

Are you ready for version 100? Chrome and Firefox releases are both about to hit the triple digits, and some developers are worried it'll break their websites. But there's still time.

Startups are putting raise caps on workers who move to less-expensive cities. Instead of cutting pay for employees who move to a less-expensive location, some startup execs said moving would affect their ability to get raises down the line.

Uber customers can now see their own ratings. The company is allowing customers to view a breakdown of their average ratings by drivers in the app’s privacy menu.

Shopify beat analysts’ estimates for the fourth quarter, but shares still fell. The company reported a slower growth outlook, but it expects to pick up again by the end of the year.

Amazon workers in Staten Island will get a union vote next month. The Amazon Labor Union has been pushing for workers to unionize in New York City since at least October.

A space joyride

Virgin Galactic opened its doors to anyone willing to drop half a million bucks to go to space. To get a feel for what a ticket gets you, Virgin posted a video that explains what to expect during the 90-minute trip.

The video shows what goes on both inside and outside the spacecraft as it ascends a few miles above the Earth. Passengers float around and look at our planet from 17 different windows, and, at least according to the video, the take-off and landing don’t look too bad. Still, for half a million dollars, we think 90 minutes is pretty short. Let us know when we can stay up there for a solid week.

A MESSAGE FROM ESRI

The global nature of business makes tracking your company's operations trickier than ever before. Overseeing supply chains and an international, dispersed workforce is tough. Maintaining visibility over all aspects of your operations is even tougher. The changing norms of business make location services no longer a "nice to have" but a "need to have" — and at the forefront of the geospatial intelligence revolution is Esri.

Learn more

Update, Feb. 17, 2022: An earlier version of this newsletter misgendered Kendall Collins in noting his departure from Okta.

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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