Facebook’s UK and Ireland director Steve Hatch revealed the exact moment when he was convinced to join the company from London media agency MEC where he was chief executive.
And it came after a short conversation with the then vice president of ads and product marketing Brian Boland (he’s now VP of advertising technology,) who admitted to Hatch shortly after Facebook went public that the company still didn’t really have a mobile business. Hatch was shocked that someone so senior would be so honest about the situation.
Speaking at a LiveRail Publisher Forum event in London on Tuesday, Hatch told the story:
“Moving to mobile was a huge transition, and quite famously, Facebook missed mobile first time around. It was a very desktop company.”
“My first experience visiting Facebook three years ago in two different offices and in Menlo Park was this scrappiness, energy, and strength of vision.”
“One of the people I met … was Brian Boland. I said: ‘Brian, what is the biggest change in those three years since we met?’ And he said it was the transition to mobile, and he told me this great story, and it’s because of this story that was the moment I wanted to join the company.”
“He said: ‘Steve, we realised we wanted to get mobile right, and we had to change really quickly, but you know what, we really didn’t know we had a [mobile] business.”
“This is some months after the company had IPO’d and to me this was staggering for someone so senior to say — I said: ‘Hang on Brian, are you kidding, after your IPO, you didn’t know you had a business?” ‘No, no,” Boland said.”
“That just gives you a sense of how the company absolutely pivoted. In three months there was a root and branch re-purposing of the organisation from one place to another place.”
“It’s like the ‘Great British Bake Off’ show we have here in the UK. I got a sense of when Brian talked about the shift to mobile, it was just like a contestant on the ‘Great British Bake Off’: You’ve got the product, you put it out there, you occasionally sneak a look to see if it’s rising and growing. And in the end it did grow to this phenomenal thing.”
“As an agency, from a client perspective, it didn’t even feel like a shift to mobile but just that they had a deeper understanding of what they were doing. And through that experience they had a much greater empathy for the challenges [mobile] brings, and a clear perspective on, actually, if we focus on devices, we will only go so far. If we focus on what people are doing, that’s the way to go.”
“Mobile is more an expression of what people are doing than the tech itself.”
From a company that didn’t even have a mobile business after it went public in 2012, mobile revenue now represents 69% of the total, and reached approximately $US859 million in the year to 31 December.
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