The Badge Post
Friday will be my last day at Facebook.
I began working for the News Partnerships Team there on October 27, 2014, following an 18 year stint at MTV News.
I joined the company for its culture: open, authentic, fast, iterative. I loved the Analog Research Lab posters tacked to the raw, open offices: Nothing At Facebook Is Someone Else’s Problem, Begin Anywhere, Hard Things Are Hard.
My goal was to make it through the 2016 election, typically a crucible of innovation and growth at any organization.
I was hired to manage a then-nascent, non-Facebook Facebook product called Paper. It was an elegant little app that later came to inform the UX of Instant Articles. And it was deprecated in my very first meeting (though that fact took some weeks to realize).
I inherited two new products during my second meeting: Trending, and what we would eventually come to call, Facebook Media Central.
From day one, I’ve been party to a few legitimately historical moments. I helped Chris Cox launch Facebook Live from FBMC, where, in the months prior, we built a newsroom-like environment in order to onboard and orient public figures from Seth Meyers to Martha Stewart, Cindy Crawford to LeBron James.
I helped produce dozens of Facebook Lives at Democratic and Republican Debates and Conventions featuring the entire cast: Clinton, Trump, Podesta, Stone… Machio.
I helped Andy, Campbell and company launch the Facebook Journalism Project, and then represented it on-stage, at industry events and in newsrooms from Delhi to Denver, Copenhagen to Kuala Lumpur.
And I helped design, develop and nearly globalize a one-of-a-kind executive summit where we collaborated, built capacity, and community. Last year, I — like everyone else — pivoted to virtual, helped launch Live Online Events and leaned into supporting the team’s well-being.
There have also been some very difficult moments.
As my manager’s manager said to me late one night in the center of the Trending conflagration (in which news about Trending was trending on Trending, and leading every cable newscast on the thirty, massive flat-screen TVs overhead), “It’s all part of the journey.”
That journey has taken me back and forth across the United States, Europe, India and Asia. I’ve circled the earth enough times to develop a taste for Singapore Airlines in-flight ice cream sundae. Once, on stage in Jakarta, I teared up mid-agenda; it was an unbelievable, overwhelming place to be for a kid from Iowa.
Inside Facebook, we talk about the experience of working for Facebook as some wildly unusual thing. Phrases like, “Every day is a week.” “This lockdown is the biggest.” Or, “This half is the worst.” We measure our tenure to the tenth of a percentage point (mine’s 95.3, natch), and toss around jargon like thrash and churn. Since the global pandemic relegated us to mere pixels, it has been near constant uncertainty. Cortisol overload.
But Facebook is just like life. Life is epic. Time is elastic. Our most-present challenges are our most challenging. And when we’re honest with ourselves, there are very, very few certainties.
Fortunately (as Tobias Wolff reminds us), we are made to persist. We invent new ways of doing things, then tweak them, and tweak them again. The thrash always, eventually subsides. And we move on to newer, greater uncertainties.
What will I remember most from my 2,369 days at Facebook? Our moments of shared humanity. Jogging the Stanford Dish with Guido, Alex and Jason. Traipsing the back alleys of Delhi with Asha, Man and Dorrine. Pouring a proper pint with Karla, Nick and Sarah. Karaoke with Caroline, Bradley and Double J. Game Night with Val, Marcela, Dennis and The Marketing Team. Sprinting from Paris to Berlin to see U2 with Brandon.
I am proudest of the times I helped foster those deep and simple, shared human experiences — connection, empathy, emotion, authenticity, humility, kindness — in our work together.
It’s evident in our team photos, snapped in that exhilarating instant between the program’s end, and the after party’s beginning; adrenaline-sparked and oxytocin-warmed. We crowd, crow and beam.
Evocative as they are, though, those photos can’t fully capture the magic we created together: collaborating, problem solving, inventing and iterating. Because, “What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
In the coming months, I am committed to manifesting those same qualities in my new venture, Essential Industries Incorporated. I am committed to helping people and businesses transform themselves, and cultivate great culture and community through storytelling.
Finally, thank you EVERYONE who heard me out, lifted me up, and propelled me forward.
One of my heroes, Fred Rogers, was fond of saying, “There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
I hope our’s has been mutually positive, transformative, deep and simple.