Making Meta | Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth (CTO)

Making Meta | Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth (CTO)

Boz’s background (00:00:00)

  • Andrew Bosworth, also known as Boz, joined Facebook in early 2006 as one of the first engineers.
  • During his 18-year tenure at Meta, he created impactful products such as the Facebook News Feed, the original Facebook mobile ads platform, the Facebook messaging system, the profile, the timeline, Facebook groups, and the internal engineering boot camp.
  • He served as VP of ads and business platform, leading engineering, product research, analytics, and design.
  • In 2017, he created Meta's AR/VR organization, now called Reality Labs.
  • Currently, he leads Meta's efforts in AR/VR, mixed reality, and consumer hardware, including Quest, Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses, and more.
  • In the early days of Facebook, engineers worked 120 hours per week and had no hobbies.
  • The News Feed, one of Boz's early projects, was initially met with resistance from users but ultimately became a defining feature of Facebook.
  • The combination of the News Feed and ads created a trillion dollars of value.
  • Communication is a crucial skill, and employees should not hesitate to ask their managers for help.
  • Effective communication can help prevent misunderstandings and misalignment.
  • Meta's recent turnaround was driven by a focus on long-term investments, such as AR/VR, and a shift towards a more proactive approach to addressing challenges.
  • The company also emphasized the importance of employee well-being and work-life balance.
  • Boz believes that the Apple Vision Pro is a significant product that will have a major impact on the AR/VR industry.
  • He sees the potential for the Apple Vision Pro to revolutionize the way people interact with technology and the world around them.
  • Boz emphasizes the importance of taking risks and being willing to fail.
  • He encourages individuals to seek out mentors and role models who can provide guidance and support.
  • He also stresses the value of continuous learning and adaptation in a rapidly changing tech landscape.
  • Boz shares insights into the process of building the first News Feed, including the challenges and decisions involved.
  • He highlights the importance of user research and data-driven decision-making in product development.
  • Boz recounts both failures and successes from his career, emphasizing the value of learning from mistakes and celebrating achievements.
  • He encourages individuals to embrace failure as an opportunity for growth and improvement.
  • Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth attended 14 proms during his high school years.
  • He was the national champion in Taekwondo in college as a green belt in the heavyweight sparring division.
  • He was recruited by Harvard University to play football.
  • He was actively involved in the 4-H club, raising and showing animals at county fairs.
  • He once shared a stage with David Copperfield.
  • MC Hammer complimented his outfit, and President George W. Bush complimented his shoes and the shine of his head.
  • Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth's extensive prom attendance was due to his popularity as a good dancer.
  • He was involved in 4-H, a co-ed youth program that involved public speaking and leadership events, which often ended with dances.
  • Knowing many girls from different schools and being a skilled dancer made him a desirable prom date.
  • In his junior and senior years, he attended three proms in one weekend.

Early days at Facebook (00:07:20)

  • Boz and five others joined Facebook as the 10th engineers.
  • They lived close to the office and worked long hours, often eating meals together.
  • There was no expert to help with problems, so they had to figure things out on their own.
  • Boz built an anti-spam defense mechanism and had to wake up every four hours for two years to check for attacks.

Advice for founders (00:11:11)

  • Boz advises founders to take his advice with caution as he has never been a founder himself.
  • He joined Meta (then Facebook) in 2006, almost two years after it was founded, and did not have to deal with fundraising, the board, or the business side of things.
  • Boz appreciates the mentorship and resources available in the tech industry today, such as podcasts and newsletters, which were lacking 15-20 years ago.
  • He offers founders strategic, technological, business, and management advice but acknowledges that there are aspects of being a founder that he has not experienced.
  • Boz emphasizes that the challenges faced by founders are significant and worth discussing, regardless of the scale of the company.

Leveraging leaders (00:13:22)

  • Andrew Bosworth, CTO of Meta, emphasizes the importance of seeking guidance and support from leaders, mentors, and advisors to achieve goals effectively.
  • Leaders should empower their team members by providing guidance and support while allowing them autonomy to make decisions and solve problems.
  • Effective communication with your manager is crucial, including sending concise progress updates and reaching out for help with specific requests or suggestions.
  • Proactively communicate any issues or challenges to maintain momentum and prevent setbacks.

Tips for communicating with managers (00:19:27)

  • Ask managers for help by sharing what's happening, blockers, and questions.
  • Send a weekly "State of Lenny" email to your manager with priorities, blockers, and personal updates.
  • Every manager is different, so ask how they prefer to receive updates.
  • When drafting emails, consider the tone and history of the relationship to ensure the message lands correctly.

Transparency at Meta (00:22:10)

  • Meta promotes transparency by encouraging open communication, sharing data publicly, and allowing Q&A sessions, which can lead to leaks but also ensures talented individuals have access to information for informed decision-making.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Meta's culture is not purely bottom-up; Mark Zuckerberg sets the overall direction but encourages input and collaboration, allowing for multiple versions of ideas to be developed.
  • To navigate Meta's open information ecosystem effectively, individuals need strategies to manage and filter the vast amount of incoming information to find relevant and actionable insights.
  • Key decision-makers like Mark Zuckerberg, Andrew Bosworth, Chris Cox, and Javi have strong opinions about the company's direction, and employees can seek inspiration from discussions with these leaders.

The importance of clear guidelines (00:27:01)

  • Giving people clear guidelines helps them understand their roles and responsibilities.
  • Clear guidelines define where people have space to make decisions and where they don't.
  • Early on, Mark Zuckerberg was very involved in the details of product design, but over time, he has become less involved in some areas and more involved in others.
  • Boz has been very involved in pushing for certain features, such as hand tracking and mixed reality, even when some people in the team didn't believe they were critical.

Involvement in the details (00:29:11)

  • Founders and executives should be involved in the details that matter the most.
  • Some weeds matter more than others, and founders should focus on the ones that will have the biggest impact on success or failure.
  • It's important to find a balance between delegating tasks and staying involved in the details.
  • Delegating too much can be a mistake, especially if the delegated tasks are critical.
  • Founders should be able to identify the most important tasks and ensure that they are on track.
  • Mark Zuckerberg is known for his attention to detail, and he will often notice small issues even while discussing strategic matters.
  • It's important to avoid burnout by not constantly working on the most important things, but founders should stay close to the action.
  • Working on the most important things can be intense and stressful, but it's also rewarding.
  • Founders should be aware of the challenges of working on critical tasks and take steps to avoid burnout.
  • It's important to find a balance between working on important tasks and other tasks that are less critical but still necessary.

Building the News Feed (00:33:15)

  • The Newsfeed, developed by Facebook, was the first algorithmic news feed and AI code used to rank content.
  • Despite initial controversy, users eventually recognized the value of sharing information on the Newsfeed.
  • Startups should avoid being limited by the needs of their earliest customers, as they may differ from the broader market.
  • Facebook's vision for the Newsfeed differed from users' current experiences, but the company believed in its long-term value and was proven correct.
  • The Newsfeed case showcased a unique situation where users expressed outrage while simultaneously increasing product usage, revealing a cognitive dissonance between stated and revealed preferences.
  • It is crucial to differentiate between minor execution errors and fundamental product flaws.
  • Facebook created an exceptionally efficient monetization platform outside of search, and economic power strongly correlates with human utility.
  • Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has reached a significant milestone by achieving a trillion dollars in value, a testament to the hard work and dedication of its team.

Passion and career growth (00:37:28)

  • Passion leads to better, smarter, and more productive work.
  • Boz realized he is someone who gets passionate about things.
  • Initially reluctant to work on ads and hardware, he discovered his passion for them.
  • He learned to give himself space to understand if he can develop passion for something.
  • Boz had an unusual career arc, changing jobs frequently to explore different areas.
  • He gained diverse experiences and knowledge by working in various roles.
  • While some peers got promoted in a single track, Boz's career took off after he found his passion in ads.

Exploring new opportunities (00:40:25)

  • The speaker emphasizes the importance of continuous learning and skill development.
  • They advise against staying in a role or domain where learning has plateaued, as it can hinder career growth.
  • The speaker recommends taking risks and trying new things, even if it means leaving a comfortable position.
  • They suggest optimizing for learning in the early stages of one's career, as the cumulative effect of diverse experiences can be highly valuable.
  • The speaker encourages trying various roles and functions, such as internal tools, customer support, trust and safety, user-facing products, and infrastructure.

The value of variety in experience (00:42:02)

  • There are two good places to be in a company:
    • Carrying a lot of water in areas that the company is not paying attention to but are important.
    • On the most important thing, where you get visibility, experience, and growth.
  • Projects that start in the fire should be forged into something that cools and is no longer in the fire.
  • Things like dams that are holding up flood waters have a tendency to crack or break.
  • You should move on if you are not engaged, not doing great work, or don't love it anymore.
  • It's okay to go from the forge to the dam and back over time.
  • Jumping onto the latest fire is not a real job.

Giving and receiving feedback (00:45:01)

  • Mark Zuckerberg is receptive to feedback, even negative criticism.
  • He listens attentively and considers different viewpoints.
  • He may initially disagree and explain his reasoning, but over time, he incorporates feedback and makes adjustments.
  • Zuckerberg's approach exemplifies the concept of "strong opinions, loosely held."
  • He resembles a machine learning model that retrains overnight, integrating new information and perspectives.
  • After receiving feedback, Zuckerberg seeks validation by asking others for their opinions, triangulating viewpoints to gain a broader understanding.

Boz’s tattoos (00:47:38)

  • Boz has two notable tattoos: one of California and the word "veritas".
  • Getting tattoos was a significant decision for Boz, as he shifted his mindset about his body and self-expression.
  • Boz sees tattoos as a form of self-expression and appreciates the cultural shift towards greater acceptance of tattoos.
  • "Veritas" is Latin for "truth" and is also Harvard's motto.
  • Boz chose the word "veritas" because he values honesty and truthfulness.
  • Boz acknowledges that being honest alone is not enough and emphasizes the importance of kindness and delivering feedback in a productive and helpful manner.
  • Honesty remains a core part of Boz's identity, but he has improved in expressing his concerns with care and belief in the potential for improvement.

Communication is the job (00:51:30)

  • Effective communication is essential for creating an impact and achieving lasting change. It is the exclusive means through which individuals can influence and affect others. Poor communication can lead to wasted time and missed opportunities.
  • The responsibility for effective communication lies with the communicator, not the audience. Silence and non-verbal cues also communicate messages and convey meaning.
  • To effectively communicate, it's crucial to understand your audience, empathize with their starting point, and tailor your communication accordingly. Use multimodality by repeating key points in different ways and formats to cater to different learning styles and preferences.
  • Address people's fears and concerns upfront to build trust and credibility before presenting your conclusions. Start by influencing a small group and gradually build your communication skills for larger audiences.
  • Personal development, including mentorship, coaching, and learning from experiences like raising children, can enhance communication and leadership skills. Modern parenting resources, such as the works of Lansbury and Dr. Becky, offer valuable insights for effective parenting and relationship building.
  • Expo is a fully white-labeled embedded analytics solution designed with the user in mind. It connects to any relational database or warehouse and allows users to build and style dashboards in minutes with low-code functionality.
  • Dashboards and reports can be easily embedded into applications with a small code snippet. End users can utilize Expo's AI features for report and dashboard generation, reducing customer data requests for support teams.

Comparing VR headsets: Meta Quest 3 and Apple Vision Pro (01:00:47)

  • Andrew Bosworth, CTO of Meta, compares the Meta Quest 3 to the Apple Vision Pro, highlighting the Quest 3's better value proposition in terms of price and features.
  • Despite the Apple Vision Pro's higher resolution display, better pass-through, and improved UI, Bosworth criticizes its comfort, small field of view, dimmer displays, and distracting motion blur.
  • Bosworth emphasizes the importance of mixed reality and hand tracking, which he believes make VR more accessible, and praises the Meta Quest 3's controller for expanding VR interaction possibilities.
  • Bosworth showcases the Meta Quest 3's features, including remote desktop capabilities and the ability to stream three virtual monitors from a user's machine, and expresses surprise at the positive reception of the Apple Vision Pro's high price point compared to the criticism Meta received for the Quest 2's price.
  • Bosworth demonstrates the features of his Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses and teases an upcoming Meta AR glasses device with full AR capabilities.
  • Bosworth clarifies that Mark Zuckerberg's video comparing the Apple Vision Pro and Quest 3 was not driven by fear but rather strategic thinking, and emphasizes Zuckerberg's deep knowledge and experience in the field, as well as Meta's confidence in their design choices for the Quest 3.

Meta’s downturn and turnaround (01:10:41)

  • Meta faced a downturn in public perception and stock price but has since experienced a remarkable turnaround.
  • Andrew Bosworth, CTO of Meta, stresses the importance of maintaining a long-term perspective and not being overly influenced by external opinions, including stock prices and media criticism.
  • Bosworth emphasizes the need to be aware of one's own knowledge and expertise when evaluating criticism, acknowledging that external perspectives may contain valuable insights.
  • Meta did not effectively communicate its long-term investments in AI and Reality Labs, leading to a lack of understanding among the market.
  • The success of AI advancements, such as "Llama 2" and "Fair," demonstrates Meta's commitment and expertise in the field.
  • Clear communication is essential to ensure that stakeholders understand Meta's strategic investments and long-term vision.
  • Meta had to explain to the market and the press that they have a balanced portfolio of investments and that they don't want to kill all future growth during challenging times.
  • Meta underwent a significant organizational restructuring, flattening the hierarchy and transitioning managers to individual contributors.
  • The company made substantial shifts in its operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a temporary surge in e-commerce and remote work, resulting in overhiring.
  • The tech industry is experiencing a downturn, with many companies implementing hiring freezes and layoffs, but Meta has moved beyond these challenges and is now growing again at a stable rate.
  • The intense work culture at Meta has intensified, focusing on high-performing individuals and reducing those who were not fully engaged.
  • The notion of people working harder during the pandemic is likely a result of selection bias rather than a genuine change in individual work ethic, as those who appeared to work harder were likely already hardworking individuals.

Lessons from failure (01:20:43)

  • Andrew Bosworth, CTO of Meta, discusses failures in his career and the importance of learning from them.
  • He regrets personal failures where he affected others negatively due to his emotions or fear.
  • Bosworth recalls a disagreement with his colleague, Dave Federman, about the encoding method for remote procedure calls (RPCs).
  • Despite initially insisting on binary encoding for efficiency, Bosworth later realized that Federman's advocacy for plain English language descriptors for better readability was correct.
  • Bosworth introduces the concept of "identity threat," explaining that people tend to react defensively when they feel their core self-perception is challenged.
  • He shares a personal story about a conflict with a close friend and colleague that made him realize the importance of being open-minded, curious, and engaging in conversations rather than being right.
  • Bosworth emphasizes that people remember how you make them feel, not what you say.

Closing thoughts (01:26:33)

  • The speaker reflects on their journey of understanding and dealing with identity threat.
  • They emphasize the importance of curiosity in challenging situations and how it can break down barriers and foster open-mindedness.
  • The speaker highlights the example of Ami Vora, who demonstrated genuine curiosity in disagreements and embraced different perspectives, which had a profound impact on the speaker.
  • They encourage others to embrace curiosity in moments of challenge and view it as an opportunity for growth and understanding.

Lightning round (01:29:57)

  • Andrew Bosworth, CTO of Meta, recommends the books "The Dream Machine" for historical insights into modern computing and "Good Inside" for parenting advice and emotional management.
  • He enjoys watching "The Mandalorian" with his family and values the shared experience and meaningful conversations about the show's lore.
  • In interviews, Bosworth focuses on understanding candidates' strengths and superpowers rather than dwelling on weaknesses, emphasizing the importance of teamwork and communication for success.
  • Bosworth is excited about Meta's Ray-Ban smart glasses and the potential of multimodal technology, currently in closed beta testing.
  • He praises the Mercedes-Benz AMG EQS car's AR capabilities, calling it the best AR product on the market, highlighting its 3D turn-by-turn directions and precise eye-tracking cameras.
  • Bosworth stresses the significance of self-trust when facing peer pressure and self-doubt, emphasizing the value of conviction and believing in one's own judgment.
  • He advocates for accepting AI art and criticizes attempts to gatekeep what constitutes art, drawing parallels between art and trusting oneself.
  • Bosworth recommends Rick Rubin's interviews on the nature of art and encourages people to view art as a personal diary.
  • He shares his social media handles (BOS_tank on Instagram and Threads, and mentions his podcast, "Boss to the Future," which delves into technical deep dives.
  • Bosworth encourages support for Meta products like the Quest 3 and Ray-Ban Stories glasses.
  • Meta, led by CTO Andrew 'Boz' Bosworth, is investing heavily in developing the metaverse, a virtual world where people can interact with each other and digital objects.
  • Meta believes the metaverse will be the next major computing platform and acknowledges challenges such as interoperability and ensuring a safe and positive user experience.
  • Bosworth highlights the metaverse's potential to connect people globally and create immersive experiences.

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