Is the Party Winding Down at Facebook?

A picture started to emerge from casual conversations I’ve had over the past few weeks with friends working at Facebook. I have noticed how Facebook engineers are using a different, more restrained vocabulary to describe their jobs. What once was ‘amazing’ is now ‘challenging’, ‘exciting technology’ turned to ‘learning a lot’, and ‘having fun’ toned down to ‘still engaged’. They are all very ‘content’.

This might be purely anecdotal but I have a feeling it is not. I’ve shared this insight with a few other friends outside of Facebook and they too started noticing the pattern within their own circle of Facebook connections. Unlike a year ago, these days I can’t point to a single person I know working at Facebook who is oozing excitement and energy. They are still very much engaged and are busy as ever, but they are less interested in talking about work.

While this kind of corporate evolution is expected, it is a bit early for Facebook to make the transition from a hyper startup to a business-as-usual large company culture. If this continues, the looming IPO is going to include a noticeable loss of talent with what feels like a new holding pattern within the company of people waiting to fully vest or cash out.

3 thoughts on “Is the Party Winding Down at Facebook?

  1. The tools used by Facebook include PHP, Hadoop and ZooKeeper among many others. But from these tree I know that the code is big brown ball of mud, a maintainability nightmare. It would fit my picture that people get fed up over time to work with these tools.

  2. I’ve worked at Facebook for 4.5 years and I’m still quite excited. My outlook may be rosier than most because I’m working on the forefront of the mobile web ecosystem, but I don’t think it’s that atypical. The type of person who is attracted to Facebook is typically quite talented, entrepreneurial, and has plenty of other options of stuff to do with their time. The concentration of intense talent is mostly why I love it here.

    But the flipside to such talent is the high opportunity cost of their Witness the myriad startups created by Facebook alum just in the past few years (Quora, Asana, Path, Pinterest, Storm8, Cloudera). As such, the opportunity cost of their time is high – so it’s not unexpected that after a few years, many would seek to move on.

    That said, it seems like there are more insanely talented people joining the company now than ever before. Just in the past few months, I’ve started working with Charles Jolley and the whole Strobe team; the amazing designers from Sofa; Mike Shaver from Mozilla; James Pearce from Senscha. When this many awesome people are flooding into the company, I think it’s far from winding down.

    • I’ve never questioned the caliber of talent at Facebook. I even blogged about it grudgingly… But from where I stand, I no longer hear the same level of excitement. People are still in awe of the team but no longer ooh and ah about it the way they used to.

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