Firing of Facebook’s CFO Gideon Yu – Brutal Work Conditions or Culture? Both

image I was waiting to comment on the release of Gideon Yu from Facebook, but given the new memo Kara Swisher posted I can’t wait any longer. I have information from a source close to the company that the reason for his leaving was the brutal work conditions. Lets be clear here Gideon doesn’t need the money. He’s made plenty, and he is considered a pro in my Silicon Valley circles. Why then does he get the boot?

It’s hard for certain folks to work in hard and/or harsh conditions. I love startups because the chaos is challenging and rewarding. Startups are difficult and demanding. Some might say that Facebook isn’t a startup anymore, but I’d say that it’s harder than a startup. It’s growing massively and has a hard charging young culture.

image My contacts tell me that it wasn’t the hard working part but instead the harsh environment – the culture. Only a few unique individuals can really thrive in startups and rapidly growing young companies. By all measures Gideon has passed the test on both fronts so that is why I find this firing so puzzling.

My Angle: Facebook needs to start thinking about internal HR rather than external PR. They don’t want all the "Eagles" to fly from the nest.

[Note: Kara Swisher at AllThingsD has been covering Facebook like a blanket from day 1 so I’m not surprised to see her get the memo. Nice reporting Kara.]

John Furrier

John Furrier is founder, co-CEO, and Editor-in-Chief of SiliconANGLE, a new media company covering the intersection of computer science and social science. Furrier is also the co-founder and CEO of CrowdChat a social media platform for large-scale group conversations over hashtags. In addition to SiliconANGLE John runs Broadband Developments a private incubator and investment firm for creating new startups. Furrier lives in Palo Alto, California with his wife and four children.

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6 Comments

  1. What is your angle on the other blogs that are calling for Mark Zuckerberg to retire/call it a day? Do you think that is a start, or do you think the problem lies elsewhere within the walled garden known as Facebook?

  2. I personally feel that Mark may be a bit over his head, only because he's a
    bit young. Getting a couple of close advisors who survived the last
    downturn couldn't hurt, but I'm not sure that's enough to say he should be
    removed.

  3. I just KNOW what I was doing at age 24 – it wasn't being a Billionaire – that is for sure! :) Nor was it running a 200 million user social network.

  4. I have to admin that I'm a Facebook fan boy. I don't think Mark Zuckerberg should resign at all. Great companies have great leaders (some very young). I'm sure guys like Bill Gates were tough as well. In my opinion I question the culture. What I'm digging into now to followup is whether this is a Zuch (FB) or Silicon Valley culture issue. More on that later.

    I was saying to someone last night at Web 2.0 expo was “would Microsoft been successful in the valley in its' day”? Silicon Valley has this “Adult Supervision” mentality which obviously bother me. I'm a big believer in keeping the founder around and have said so many times.
    http://furrier.org/2008/05/23/why-startups-fail

    Founder drive the opportunities. It's easier to do a executive search for a good CFO but harder to find a Zuck replacement. I approve Zuck staying.

    On Gideon I'm not sure if it was personal conflict or what I call “meddling” by outside influences. Something made Zuck snap or Gideon snap. That is what will be coming out in the near future. Either way Facebook can't be going through exec talent this fast. I just don't get it. Facebook is an historic opportunity to work on.

  5. I've never been a paper billionaire before – a paper millionaire a few times
    (though not ever before age 26).
    Still, falling into success (or even engineering your success) isn't the
    same thing as maintaining it.

  6. Well the list I saw earlier makes you wonder what is causing the mass exit from fb. I think it was on gawker/valleywag that they had a list of all the people that left in the past few years. On that list are 2 of the co-founders. I hope you find out more to this as you said, interesting story.

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