Well Done Facebook

Back in January, Sam Gustin of Portfolio Magazine asked me the following question in an interview:

Do you think that Facebook C.E.O. Mark Zuckerberg has what it takes to
take a potentially $15 billion company public? Or do you think Facebook
should follow in Google’s footsteps and bring in an experienced
technology C.E.O. like Eric Schmidt before they go public?

I replied:

I think [Zuckerberg] can do it, but he’s going to need some help. Bill
Gates found [early Microsoft President and C.O.O.] Jon Shirley. Larry
Ellison had a number of people over the years that have helped him run his company.
It doesn’t mean that Zuckerberg has to give up control of the company.
Larry and Sergey have never given up control of Google. Everyone knows
that. They just delegated certain responsibilities to Eric, and they’ve
given Eric the ability to weigh in on every issue that matters to the
company, and they’ve created a structure that works. I’m sure there are
some frustrations at times, but it works, and it’s made all of them
fabulously wealthy. So I think absolutely Mark needs to do that. And I
think if he’s willing to listen to the people around him, including his
board, his confidants, and his management team, he will do that.

Well Mark Zuckerberg did just that this winter and it resulted in the hiring of Sheryl Sandberg as COO. I don’t know Sheryl, but her resume is impressive and she seems like the perfect alter ego for Mark. I hope and expect that this will work out well for Mark, Sheryl, and most importantly Facebook. Well done.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Ginger Makela

    Whatever *it* is that makes people charismatic, engaging, and inspiring, Sheryl has *it*. On my first day at google several years ago, Sheryl spoke to new hires on our first day and gave such a rousing talk about the important things google was doing and how we’d contributing to that cause, I teared up. No joke. Every time I heard her speak at sales conferences, I always got the same feeling. She has a quality that makes people want to follow her — she’s an exceptional leader. This is huge for facebook.

  2. Alex

    I hope she has what it takes.Otherwise they are toast. They’ve got be burning cash left and right without much visibility for the next 24 to 36 months. Personally, I think Facebook sucks. They offer no value to me. but, I wish I was an investor with Peter Thiel early on……But, then again that’s my view. If you want to survive today in social crap you have to be deep in a vertical, unless you are Google and can bun through the balance sheet.Zuck, sell $50M worth of your stock to Fred or another VC fund. This should be like shooting fish in a barrel for you. If these VC’s are willing to shell out millions in little cute companies that get “play”or presented on the “wall then so be it. A nuclear winter is coming my friend, cash out!!!.

  3. Kate Brodock

    The other addition I’d like to take is that I don’t think there would be anything wrong if he were to pass it along to someone else. Sometimes that’s a sign of a good entrepreneur (regardless of whether Facebook is past that stage or not). A lot of people have the skill set it takes to run a company in the early stages, and those types of people more often than not don’t have finely tuned skills for running the company once it gets big. At that point, it’s usually best (and smart! and prudent!) to let a person with a better developed skill set to take it from there.

    1. fredwilson

      KateI’ve seen it done many ways and while what you say can work, I find its best if the entrepreneur/founder stays around/engaged for a while instead of just “handing it off”.great managers/leaders are the right personality type to run a large company, but its the founders who provide the soul.i like to think of it as “head and heart” and when you can keep both engaged and involved, you often get the best resultsfred