New Meta COO Javier Olivan is nothing like Sheryl Sandberg | MarketingwithAnoy

Hey folks. We are in locked arms security, the Ukraine war is still going on, and a gallon of gas is approaching the price of one Ethereum gas fee. At least we’re not going to have to deal with Johnny Depp for another week.

The ordinary view

Javier Oliven had a problem. That was in the early 2010s, and his team at Facebook, growth, was in charge of announcements. Yes, it sounds non-intuitive and strange, but growth was (and still is) the driving force of the company, and that team had an infinitely broad mandate. Basically, anything that led people to Facebook, or kept people on Facebook, was fair game. Messages qualified because, as Olivan once put it, “it was a tap on Facebook.” If someone sent you a message and you were not on the service, you would be motivated to sign up.

But the problem, marked by the company’s relentless use of data and analytics, was that messages were buried inside the Facebook app. When users got a message, they would not know it because the notification would disappear in the flash of other things Facebook bothered them with. “It may be the 17th notification,” he said when I interviewed him in March 2019. So Olivan and his team came up with a bold solution: “It would be better to take the messaging experience outside the app and make it its own app. . ” This defied conventional wisdom, which says you have to make everything easier for the users. Olivan’s plan was a form of blackmail: If you wanted to send a message, hard boogies – unless you downloaded the company’s new messaging platform. “Short-term users really hated it because you suddenly had to install another app,” he told me. But in the end, they did. And not only did messaging take off, but the company eventually developed it into a separate billion-dollar social service. “Data said it was the right thing to do,” he told me. “We did it with the best of intentions, and now Messenger is an extremely successful application.”

Such victories have led 44-year-old Olivan to ever-higher positions in the company, culminating in this week’s announcement that he would become Meta’s new chief operating officer, top assistant to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. But the promotion seemed almost like a footnote to the impending departure of current COO Sheryl Sandberg, the only person to have held that post to date. Sandberg left Facebook in a characteristic way, where every element of the message was carefully choreographed. She prepared a 1,500-word post that was preloaded with loving acknowledgments from past and present Facebookers, with Zuckerberg leading the parade as “most relevant.” She gave interviews to selected media organizations. And in the wake of her impending departure – she will give up her emblem for the fall, but remain on the board – she generated dozens of warm take-offs and think tanks, many of them filled with brutal assessments of her term of office. (Here’s what I wrote.)

Also faithfully, Olivan himself gave no interviews. In a pretty anodyne posts about his promotion, he implicitly acknowledged a big difference between Sandberg and him: “I have primarily been behind the scenes,” he wrote. A lack of press clippings speaks to that. I had to push hard to get that conversation with him for my book a few years ago. But when we finally met, he was cordial and straightforward. His meeting room was dominated by a full-size surfboard, reflecting his passion for the outdoors. That and his love of parasailing are among the few things that an internet search reveals about him. I found nothing about his family life, but he mentioned to me that he, like his boss Mark Zuckerberg, has two little daughters. You will not see many pictures of them on his Facebook page. And his Instagram account is private. Only 17 people follow it.

One of these followers is his boss. Zuckerberg himself had inspired Olivan to join Facebook. In 2005, after spending a few years working on Siemens’ mobile phones, the Spanish-born engineer, who came from a small town in the Pyrenees, decided to go to business school at Stanford. He took a class that examined case studies of new ventures, including Facebook. Olivan was already a fan of the young company and even planned to start a similar company in Spain and Latin America. At one point, Zuckerberg came to class, and Olivan spoke to him afterwards, asking the CEO about international growth. In 2007, Olivan became a Facebook employee – and worked on just that product.

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