Facebook – the case continues
Facebook developers pay much more attention to the ‘plumbing’ that connects people with each other than to the content that flows through it. Matt Cohler, a former employee, explains: The people at Facebook are essentially utilitarians. They want to give people the very best technology for sharing and then get out of their way. That technology is so good that people are willing to stay loyal to the site as it grows, rather than abandoning it for something edgier. The firm has what some have called a hacker-type culture that has produced the innovations that have made the service so addictive. Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s head of engineering, says that one of its mottos is ‘move fast and break stuff’. What matters is getting fresh products out to users quickly, even if they do not always work as intended. To help generate new ideas it gives staff plenty of freedom to try out their ideas on Facebook’s site. The company competes fiercely with Google for talented staff (it employs many former ‘Googlers’) and offering free food encourages employees to work long hours. Many are in their early 20s, fresh from college where they were often up all night. Facebook continues this tradition with its ‘hackathons’, where employees are invited to work all night on programs and other tasks that are not part of their normal assignments. The kitchen staff participate by creating new dishes that are available throughout the night. Food is a lubricant that keeps the innovation machine running. A Facebook spokeswoman said: The thinking for us is, what can we do to make our employees’ lives easier so they can focus on the job? They come into work and don’t have to worry about packing lunch.
Case questions 16.3
· What evidence is there in the case about the communication channels that Facebook developers use?
· How does the company encourage this?