Facebook seems to have fixed its recruiting problems.
For most of its five years, Facebook had the odd reputation of being a hot startup where lots of people should want to work, while simultaneously being a company that was not always able to attract and retain the industry’s top talent.
There were rumours of a recruiting close rate lower that 50%. There were top execs joining the company only to abruptly quit months later. There were horror stories from bitter failed jobs applicants, complaining of inattentive or ignorant interviewers. There was talk of a culture at the startup where “dissent” was “dead.”
All of it was very strange for a startup so full of potential as Facebook. Eventually, the problem grew so big, we examined it in a post titled “Facebook’s Recruiting Problem, Explained.”
In that post, we wrote that there were three main factors to Facebook’s challenges with recruiting and retention:
- Stiff competition from companies like Google and Microsoft, which are willing to pay through the nose to retain their own talent
- Worries about Facebook’s management and its revenues in Silicon Valley
- Facebook’s only recently “professionalized” recruiting efforts.
But over the last few months, Facebook has begun to once again steadily hire away top executives from Silicon Valley rivals Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and others.
Recent highlights include:
- “Pay With Facebook” development leader Prashant Fuloria, from Google
- Director of engineering Greg Badros, from Google
- Leader of Facebook’s self-service advertising unit, Grady Burnett, from Google
- CFO David Ebersman, from Genentech.
- Head of design, Kate Aronowitz, from LinkedIn.
- Ad sales lead, Dan Foehner, a former top sales operations exec from Yahoo.
We spoke with Facebook’s top HR exec, Lori Goler, to find out what’s changed at the startup to improve its recruiting efforts so much that as much as 10% of Facebook employees are now former Googlers.
(Of course, the main change from years ago is that there’s someone like Lori at Facebook, targeting and recruiting top talent. We understand that in prior years, recruiting at Facebook was much more of a case-by-case operation. Facebook’s VP of product Christopher Cox is said to be responsible for finally organising this team.)
Lori said the main problem Facebook had recruiting anyone before a few months ago was that people were tentative to move to new companies during a down economy when their current employers would happily boost their salary to keep them within the fold.
But beyond a brightening economy, Lori says the other big change has been her team’s effort to offer recruits more “visibility” into Facebook’s finances and its work culture.
To combat the swirling Silicon Valley narrative that Facebook was somehow in trouble financially, Facebook shared some of its financial projections with the press a few months ago. They announced revenues were up 70% year-over-year, and that the company would be cash-flow positive in 2010. rumours that Facebook would hit revenues near $550 million in 2009 started sprouting up too.
Facebook’s other big “visibility” effort was in making a much more concerted effort to talk about what it’s like to work at the startup.
This included creating high-gloss recruiting videos, launching People.Facebook.com, and starting by-invitation-only tech talks at Facebook’s offices.
Position: Development lead for 'Pay With Facebook'
Hired: June 2009.
From SAI: 'The guy who used to run Google Checkout, Prashant Fuloria, left Google (GOOG) after six years last month and now works for Facebook. He is responsible for the 'Pay With Facebook' product.'
Position: Director of engineering
Hired: June 2009
From News.Softpedia: 'Badros is currently a Google Senior Director of Engineering and joined the search giant as early as 2003. He started out in charge of the AdSense engineering team in 2004 and led it until the project became hugely successful, bringing Google billions in income. While with the Mountain View-based company, he also led several teams in charge of Google Calendar, Google Reader and even Gmail. Lately he has been head of the Application Platform team. Before joining Google, Badros worked at Go2Net, later acquired by InfoSpace, serving as Chief Technical Architect at both companies.'
Position: Head of self-service advertising
Hired: June 2009
From SAI: Google (GOOG) turns in revenues of $21 billion a year mainly because of its automated search advertising business. Facebook just poached the guy who runs those operations in Ann Arbor.
Google's AdWords operations chief Grady Burnett will quit the company and move from Ann Arbor, Mich., to join Facebook in Palo Alto, where he will lead the startup's growing self-service advertising unit. Grady is also a DoubleClick veteran.
Hired: June 2009
From SAI: 'Ebersman worked at Genentech for nearly 15 years. He served as the firm's executive vice president and CFO from 2006 through April 2009, when Roche Group acquired the company. Prior to joining the company's finance organisation, he was senior vice president of Product Operations. He joined Genentech as a business development analyst. Previously, he was a research analyst at Oppenheimer & Company Inc.'
Position: Director of Design
Hired: Early 2009
From Kate's Linkedin Profile: 'Results-oriented user experience manager with a record of leading teams to success.
- More than 10 years of experience in driving design innovation: founded on user insights, brand promise and business metrics
- Established talent in all phases of development: analysis, strategy, planning, design management and delivery
- recognised excellence in relationship management, facilitation and presentation skills
- Demonstrated ability to lead and thrive in a fast-paced environment with changing priorities
Kate Aronowitz's Specialties:
Cross-functional design management, user-centered design and research methodologies, group facilitation, brand integration into user experience and design, marketing and merchandising design, business driven design standards'
Position: Sales leader
Hired: April 2009
From SAI: 'Yahoo's top sales operations exec Dan Foehner has quit the company and will start at Facebook on Monday.
He joins Facebook as the social network finally begins to focus more on revenue growth. Until recently CEO Mark Zuckerberg has insisted the company prioritizes user-growth over making money.'
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