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Facebook Faces High-Level Staff Exodus 346

Posted by timothy
from the more-time-with-family dept.
angry tapir writes "It has been troubled times for Facebook since the social network's IPO in May. There has been speculation that Facebook could suffer a talent drain in the wake of the IPO, and now the organization has lost four of its high-level managers the space of a week: Ethan Beard, director of platform partnerships; Kate Mitic, platform marketing director; Jonathan Matus, mobile platform marketing manager; and Ben Blumenfeld, design manager, have all resigned from the company."
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Facebook Faces High-Level Staff Exodus

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  • Walking wounded... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wermske (1781984) * on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:06PM (#40969279) Homepage

    I really don't give a damn about Facebook (the firm). The survivors of event triggered churn (following milestone events) can be painful for the remaining staff.

    Additionally this business phenomenon presents a new challenge for both inexperienced managers and leaders that have become intoxicated by constant build-grow success. Add in the additional inconvenience, ramp time, and dollar cost of finding and onboarding replacement staff, event related staff churn can have a damaging effect on the morale and productivity of the existing workforce (and impact their resumes).

    The walking wounded; however, can choose to affect the situation or be affected by it. The survivors and thrivers will confront this challenge and exploit the opportunity for what it is... a chance to learn and grow.

    • It won't kill FB (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:22PM (#40969377) Journal

      The exodus of the 14 execs won't kill FB

      How many execs have left Yahoo ?

      Is Yahoo still around ?

      FB won't die until it runs out of cash. As long as it has cash left, it will go on, just like Yahoo

      • by zero.kalvin (1231372) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:50PM (#40969549)
        Yes, but Yahoo is not going to improve , unless something extraordinary happens Yahoo will die.
      • Re:It won't kill FB (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:51PM (#40969557)

        And FB will have cash until the users stop showing up.

        I'm curious about how the exodus will happen. I don't see it going to G+, really. I think Diaspora died along with one of the young founders. FB copycats are a dime a dozen, but haven't heard any word in the way of compelling alternatives. Perhaps individual services will eat away at them through mobile...

        • Re:It won't kill FB (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday August 13, 2012 @02:29AM (#40970329) Journal

          And FB will have cash until the users stop showing up.

          True, and false

          True - fb will see a big drop in their income if all their users stop showing up

          But that will almost never happen - due to the fact of the sheer number of users fb has gathered

          Once you achieved a critical mass, like what fb has gotten itself, it'll not be that easy to topple it --- Ask yourself if Microsoft going to close its door tomorrow, that Bill Gates is no longer on the helm, and Steve Ballmer still throwing chairs around

          And false - Remember fb has garnered many billions of $$, and if they do not repeat stunts like what they did in the $1 Billion acquisition of Instagram - fb will still be around for quite some time to come
           

          • by flappinbooger (574405) on Monday August 13, 2012 @07:25AM (#40971497) Homepage

            True - fb will see a big drop in their income if all their users stop showing up

            But that will almost never happen - due to the fact of the sheer number of users fb has gathered

            Once you achieved a critical mass, like what fb has gotten itself, it'll not be that easy to topple it --- Ask yourself if Microsoft going to close its door tomorrow, that Bill Gates is no longer on the helm, and Steve Ballmer still throwing chairs around

            This is true - all of my vague acquaintances and high school classmates who I didn't like then will always need a place to tell me what they're making for supper tonight and ... later ... tell me how it tasted and how much they love their spouse / kids / pet.

            • by cfulton (543949)
              Dammit, Everybody who reads about my supper on facebook "likes" it. The more pictures of Chicken, Steak and my secret Pot Pie I put up on my FB page the more "likes" I get. And everybody know that a lot of "likes" equates to love and love makes a person happy. So, don't ruin my personal happiness by dissing FB food posters you fun hater. :-)
        • by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot AT davidgerard DOT co DOT uk> on Monday August 13, 2012 @05:43AM (#40971103) Homepage

          Diaspora is the Linux desktop of social networking, except not actually useful or secure.

        • by tompaulco (629533) on Monday August 13, 2012 @09:25AM (#40972197) Homepage Journal
          I'm curious about how the exodus will happen. I don't see it going to G+, really.
          Perhaps people will go out and make real friends.
      • by thej1nx (763573) on Monday August 13, 2012 @12:42AM (#40969875)
        The exodus of high level leaders at same time, however can definitely kill a company. Think of it this way, if several generals or even majors of an army quit at the same time, it leads the army directionless for a fair bit. If the competition is shrewd, this will be the perfect time to throw in some innovative twists and come up with something new. And if that happens, cash, which essentially comes from advts. will dry up instantly. And that will lead to even more mass exodus. One way to beat vicious cycles is to not to get into one.
        • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday August 13, 2012 @02:21AM (#40970291) Journal

          Your analogy is flawed

          In a real life military scenario, an exodus of several general will create mass confusion and drastic drop of morale amongst the soldiers

          On the other hand, in the case of fb, even if 90% of the exec decide to leave, you think that will do anything to the fb users?

          Nope, zilth, nothing

          Them users will still use fb to tell the world when they go to toilet, what they ate for breakfast and what they did with their gf/bf the night before, like usual
           

        • Re:It won't kill FB (Score:5, Interesting)

          by uncqual (836337) on Monday August 13, 2012 @03:17AM (#40970617)
          The departing leaders also take the best people with them over the following few weeks/months (esp. in California where signing something saying you won't work for a competitor for two years is laughed out of court in a summary judgement).

          Smart folks at FB realize that hype didn't work and every step FB takes to monetize their users will alienate them. Their only ace in the hole is that there isn't yet a good FB replacement for the 2010's -- but that's why we have Stanford!

          The exodus this early should be very alarming to FB.
        • by stretch0611 (603238) on Monday August 13, 2012 @04:56AM (#40970967) Journal

          The exodus of high level leaders at same time, however can definitely kill a company. Think of it this way, if several generals or even majors of an army quit at the same time, it leads the army directionless for a fair bit.

          However, in this analogy, Zuckerberg is a dictator. He has majority voting share and it is obvious he does what he wants. (Think Instagram, which was done by Zuckerberg before he told the board.)

          When the voice at the top is the only one that gets heard, it really doesn't matter how many underlings leave, even if they are high-level.

          • by Surt (22457)

            However, in this analogy he's a dictator with no power to prevent people from fleeing the country. He didn't execute his generals, they abandoned him, and faced no consequences for doing so.

      • by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday August 13, 2012 @02:26AM (#40970313)

        And why do people call high level execs "talent" anyway?

      • by Grayhand (2610049) on Monday August 13, 2012 @02:53AM (#40970473)
        Might not kill Facebook but it isn't going to help their stock. If I was foolish enough to have bought FB stock I'd be pretty panicky around now. Feels like rats leaving a sinking ship. It's feeling like one of those stocks that will eventually hit a $1 or less. All that's keeping the stock out of the toilet is they have income but it's not enough to justify the stock price. If the income drops sharply there's nothing to keep it out of a death spiral. I'm not talking about tomorrow but in five or so years if they don't improve there outlook it's going to look bleak. If Facebook looses it's position, which it's likely to as cool and trendy, it's user base will drop and so will it's income. If my retirement depended on Facebook stock I think I'd consider playing the lottery. It's just looking more and more like a tech bubble.
        • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday August 13, 2012 @03:05AM (#40970543) Journal

          If I was foolish enough to have bought FB stock I'd be pretty panicky around now.

           
          LOL !!
           
          We were allotted a part of fb for something that we'd done for them
           
          All the shares under my name (not that much, btw) got sold out the first day of the IPO
           
          Based on my own experience (since the 1970's in the tech field) I do not see any bright future for fb
           

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:07PM (#40969289)

    I'd bail too from a ship that just went over a cliff.

    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:24PM (#40969385) Journal

      I especially want to bail out of the ship when the SEC is going to start sniffing around.

      • by Aceticon (140883) on Monday August 13, 2012 @06:31AM (#40971261)

        Your expectation that the regulators exist to actually root out and punish fraud in the market is touching but quite naive, especially in light that regulators have done absolutelly nothing at all to punish market-mispractices by large companies in the last 20 years (and when they do something, the miniscule fines they impose are usually less than the profits made by the companies breaking the law).

        Given the size of Facebook and that the lead bank in their IPO was Morgan Stanley, expect the SEC to do absolutelly nothing at all.

        On the other hand, given that Facebook stock still has a Price-Earnings per share above 50 (the typical PE for high growth Tech companies is about 25), expect a further fall in price. A better explanation for the exodus of several high-level managers with over-bloated but meaningless titles just as they become allowed to sell their stock is that they've been holding off from leaving a drifting ship until they could get their paws on hard cash.

    • by rwven (663186)

      By that logic, bailing isn't going to do you much good at that point. :-P

      I think you meant to say a ship heading for a cliff... ;)

  • And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:07PM (#40969293)

    That was the plan all along. Cash out and move on. It's a shallow company with no real long term potential. People are fickle, color me surprised.

    • So four people left... are these really surprising super high-level departures? At least in the Big Company I come from, you aren't considered any kind of "executive" unless you have some kind of "* Vice President" or "C*" in your title. "Director" or "Manager" may mean you're actually doing important work, but is nobody's idea of an "executive."

      Maybe Facebook is very different, though...

      • "At least in the Big Company I come from, you aren't considered any kind of "executive" unless you have some kind of "* Vice President" or "C*" in your title."

        So does being a "C/C#/C++ Programmer" make you some kind of big shot?

        • by schnell (163007) <meNO@SPAMschnell.net> on Monday August 13, 2012 @01:31AM (#40970085) Homepage

          So does being a "C/C#/C++ Programmer" make you some kind of big shot?

          By virtue of having three consecutive alphanumeric Cs in your job title, you would outrank everyone else in the company. Unless of course they hired a CCCCEO.

          • by ardle (523599)
            They don't need to hire one, just change someone's job title. Maybe we'll have an acronym arms race (in fact, I assume there is one already!)
          • by Guignol (159087)
            My former job's title in one of the coolest startups ever was CJT
            Where CJT stands for "CJT is my Job's Title" which by virtue of its recursivity propelled me at the highest possible rank of finite and infinite job's ranks of the universe
            But I just left the company last year and am now in a new even cooler startup with transfinite job titles, I am slowly working my way to the top, it's a long way but it's worth it
    • Re:And? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gutnor (872759) on Monday August 13, 2012 @07:05AM (#40971407)

      High level exec would have known of the coming IPO. Most of those who planned to leave have probably delayed their departure until after the IPO.

      In other sectors it is common to have departure at all levels after the bonus, not really because they think that the bonus sucks, just because "you don't quit before bonus time". That is not really a proof of anything at all.

  • Do we really care?

    What's this FaceBook thing anyway?

    Does it compile into native code or P-code?

  • by sandbagger (654585) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:12PM (#40969339)
    It is too late for the pebbles to vote. The current management team may not be the people to monetize the company. Eventually the shareholders will hold the board's feet to the fire and they'll really start to sell every single fact about you to anyone who's willing to pay. Think Facebook has privacy problems now?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Eventually the shareholders will hold the board's feet to the fire

      False.

      Even though he owns a small number of shares, Zuckerberg owns a large majority of the voting shares. He has complete control of the company.

      Many other companies have a dual-class share structure allowing a small minority to retain control with a small financial stake. Generally speaking, it sucks, and companies with this kind of share structure don't tend to do very well. Don't buy their stock.

    • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday August 13, 2012 @12:27AM (#40969773) Homepage Journal

      Eventually the shareholders will hold the board's feet to the fire

      How will they do that? Zuckerberg outvotes them all, thanks to the dual-class stock structure.

    • The current management team may not be the people to monetize the company.

      If anything's going to kill Facebook, it will be decisions made by people who were only hired to make money. People who have no interest in what it's for, never will have interest, and are only there to monetize.

      Facebook will have to be very, very careful to make sure the user experience doesn't completely vaporize in the face of money-mongers. But I think if they were planning to be that careful, they probably would not have gone public.

  • by EdIII (1114411) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:13PM (#40969343)

    I've often heard the term, "where there is smoke there is fire".

    This makes me wonder if there was something strange going on with the IPO. A lot of pissed off people who lost a lot of money. One one hand I can't feel sorry for people that lost money since anybody with a brain could figure out Facebook was not worth that much. On the other hand, if there were any shenanigans, I don't think people at Facebook should get away with it.

    It is pretty strange to see that much high level "talent" leave. Suspicious is another word.

    • This makes me wonder if there was something strange going on with the IPO.

      There was something strange, it IPO'd for much more than the company is worth. Managers see that their stock isn't going to appreciate, and go somewhere better. Now the company needs to pay its employees in cash, a lot of it, or lose them, like Yahoo did.

      Is there something else 'strange' and illegal? Maybe, but why stoop to the illegal level when you can rip people off like that legally?

  • by TheRealWheatley (2049120) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:15PM (#40969353)
    they're just going over to g+, until they realize that none of their friends are following them and head back to facebook
  • Wha? (Score:5, Funny)

    by matt-fu (96262) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:20PM (#40969371)
    Fewer managers. You say that like it's a bad thing.
  • If I had the ear of any of the big investment firms, I would have told them not to buy into Facebook. Why? Because unlike the other web behemoths, such as Google or Amazon, Facebook is just yet another social network, and those things go in cycles. Over the course of my Internet "life" I've had around twenty accounts on various social networks. They never make money like they believe they will, and they never retain their user base over the long term. Facebook was hoping to be the exception to that rule
    • by taxman_10m (41083) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:48PM (#40969533)

      I used to think that, but lately it seems like Facebook has become what I used to use email for. I use Facebook to send messages to friends and also coordinate events with them. And my actual email is mostly spam.

      • by vux984 (928602) on Monday August 13, 2012 @12:13AM (#40969675)

        My sister tried that - once.

        I don't have a facebook account and refused to get one.

        The whole platform falls on its face as an event organization platform if even one key person refuses to sign up to having their personal lives data mined.

        • by rtb61 (674572) on Monday August 13, 2012 @12:29AM (#40969783) Homepage

          That is actually the initial trigger to drive the popularity of other newer social networks. Each time a person tries to coordinate via a social network, only to get refusal and rejection with the recommendation of an alternate network, that person is motivated to try the alternate network and if they get enjoy the new network try to shift their other friends to it, 'using the old social network'. Fascinating isn't the old fad social network actually accelerates it's demise but facilitating the mass transfer of people to the new fad social network.

          Facebook has got on the nose, seen as being old and now flooded with wanna be, has been teens, still trying to hang onto their youth. This seems to be the ultimate killer of social networks, the ageing of their users and users seeking to escape unappealing contacts for what ever reason.

        • by SolemnLord (775377) on Monday August 13, 2012 @01:02AM (#40969947)

          The whole platform falls on its face as an event organization platform if even one key person refuses to sign up to having their personal lives data mined.

          The event was doomed to fail anyway, if the organizers can't figure out how to keep one "hold-out" (for lack of a better word) in the loop through other means.

    • Correct call but you don't need to be a genius to work that out.

      All business have a finite life and well predicted cycle - just some are on cycle measured in by centuries (eg Encyclopædia Britannica, Kodak, NY Times) while others are measured in years or decades.

      Only question is not whether Facebook will decline but how much it can cash-in before that happens which is really dictated the length of decline itself - market valuations are more in line strong growth and a life of AT LEAST 10-20 years while

  • Jonathan Matus, mobile platform marketing manager
    Ben Blumenfeld, design manager

    Facebook is SHIT on phones and iPads. I hear quite a few people use those these days.

  • Surprise! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:42PM (#40969499)
    The most amazing thing about this whole sad saga is that not one single person foresaw Facebooks IPO problems. Not one I tells ya!
    • by macbeth66 (204889)

      The most amazing thing about this whole sad saga is that not one single person foresaw Facebooks IPO problems. Not one I tells ya!

      Really? Were you even reading the financial news?

  • by aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:48PM (#40969537)

    Facebook's biggest problem as a young company is Zuckerberg has never had a corporate alter ego. The most prominent of the newer information companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google were started by partners such as Steve Jobs/Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates/Paul Allen, and Larry Page/Sergey Brin. Like a vanishing twin, one of the partners might eventually leave the company, but in their early histories, none of these companies was dominated by a single alpha-geek but by a Batman and Robin or Laurel and Hardy dynamic duo.

  • What's new? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:50PM (#40969555) Homepage

    Every tech company is losing staff, because none are willing to hire junior-level workers and train them. So companies keep competing over the same fixed number of people. And the quickest way to get a raise is to jump ship. So there you have it.

    It's not just tech, either. There are lots of college-educated bartenders these days, because every "entry level" position requires 3 years of experience. It's absurd.

  • by rudy_wayne (414635) on Monday August 13, 2012 @12:45AM (#40969887)

    director of platform partnerships

    platform marketing director

    mobile platform marketing manager

    design manager

    Sorry, but those mostly sound like made up bullshit job titles.

    • Sorry, but those mostly sound like made up bullshit job titles.

      Then you know nothing about the software business. The Facebook platform is a well designed interface that attracted a lot of corporate attention to Facebook. Go on and read up on it [wikipedia.org]. It was one of the most successful things Facebook did and, it's where Google's attempts at social network failed. From what I can tell, the design manager, platform marketing director and director of platform partnerships must have made a really good job.

      And now these people are moving on...

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday August 13, 2012 @01:38AM (#40970131) Homepage

    Much employee-owned stock couldn't be sold until the first lockup period ended. Which it just did. [bloomberg.com] So, given Facebook's declining stock price, it's time to cash out. Of course they're quitting. Facebook is profitable, but the stock is overpriced by an order of magnitude or so.

    Lockups are far shorter than they used to be. When I cashed out of Autodesk in the 1980s, insiders had a 2-year lockup on restricted stock. And you had to pay taxes when you exercised an option, even though you couldn't sell for another two years. That was before "deregulation", and kept insiders from cashing out before the company tanked. Now it's 90 to 277 days. This encourages hyping the stock, taking the money, and running.

  • Good thing? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by adenied (120700) on Monday August 13, 2012 @02:50AM (#40970459)

    If the design manager was the one who has made some of the UI decisions for Facebook over the last year or two maybe it's best he departs. Facebook is convenient for me for keeping in touch with a lot of people I know but I haven't heard anyone say anything good about their user interface design in a very long time. I don't really have any ill will towards anyone at Facebook (I have a number of friends who work there) but perhaps this is a good thing.

  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Monday August 13, 2012 @02:51AM (#40970461)

    If this exodus can delay or reverse the forced conversion to that gawd-awful "Timeline", then it's all to the good.

  • by mark_reh (2015546) on Monday August 13, 2012 @08:51AM (#40971961) Journal

    Let me explain how this works (having gone through an IPO at a company where I worked years ago):

    1) founders of company want to generate some cash.
    2) founders hire a bunch of execs and engineers promising the company will go public and everyone wiil get options at pre IPO price.
    3) dopes take the jobs.
    4) company goes public, stock price soars, people start dreaming about what they will do with their newly minted wealth.
    5) reality sets in- founders are the only ones able to exercise their options, everyone else has to wait to be vested in 5 years.
    6) founders sell off their stock, generating the cash they sought, leave everyone else twisting in the wind.
    7) Now-wiser execs realize their options won't ever be worth anything and jump off the sinking ship while they can.

    It has been done so many times you'd think people would be wise to this scam by now, but it keeps working over and over.

  • by peter303 (12292) on Monday August 13, 2012 @10:21AM (#40972721)
    Thats when the IPO blackout ends. If too many sell, that could mean a loss of confidence and a another big drop in the stock value. But this is an opportunity for employees to buy homes now with their rewards.

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