Why an ex-employee says being a product manager at Facebook was more stressful than being a startup CEO

Antonio García MartínezPhoto by Jeremiah RogersAntonio García Martínez

Antonio García Martínez has seen several different sides of Silicon Valley.

In his new book “Chaos Monkeys” he details his experience bouncing from Wall Street to the tech world, where he was founder and CEO of a YCombinator-backed ad-tech startup which he eventually sold to Twitter.

But instead of joining his cofounders there, he ditched for Facebook, where he became its first ads targeting product manager.

It was spring 2011, about a year before the company’s IPO. He stayed for roughly two years before getting let go in 2013.

“Working at Facebook at the time was more stressful than being at a startup,” Martínez said during a recent Q&A session following a book reading in San Francisco.

“At a startup, you raise money once, and you do your thing for a year, and you succeed or fail. At Facebook, you’re raising money every week. Every week I had to convince [my boss] that my project was worth doing. And if it wasn’t, it got killed. It was actually more stressful.”

In his book, Martínez highlighted the particular toughness of being an ads guy during a period where Facebook didn’t really know what it was doing. In that division, Facebook’s enormous scale worked against you.

“It was clear from [my boss’s] management ethos, which was essentially ‘Go big or go home,’ that we were being tasked with finding the one breakout product, à la Google AdWords, that would completely change Facebook’s fortunes,” he writes.

“Given Facebook’s revenues, which were already huge (remember: a billion times anything . . .), it was very difficult to make a dent in the income statement with any product.”

If he, or another teammate, suggested an idea that would generate $20 million in revenue, no one would be impressed.

“That would be an awesome sum in a startup, as again would be fifty million users for your product right out of the gate,” he writes. “But it was nothing in a scheme of $2 billion in annual revenues, and not worth the effort to get off the ground.”

You can find Martínez’s book here.

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