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Making Meta | Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth (CTO)

Making Meta | Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth (CTO)


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Andrew Bosworth—or Boz, as most people know him—is the chief technology officer at Meta and head of Reality Labs, the company’s augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) organization, which he created in 2017. Boz joined Facebook in 2006 as their approximately 10th engineer, and in his 18-year tenure he built the original News Feed, Messenger, and Groups, as well as many early anti-abuse and infrastructure systems. At various times he has been the engineering director overseeing Events, Places, Photos, Videos, Timeline, Privacy, and more. Before Reality Labs, he ran the Ads and Business Platform product group, where he led engineering, product, research, analytics, and design, taking annual revenue from $4 billion to $40 billion in five years. Andrew currently leads Meta’s efforts in AR, VR, AI, and consumer hardware across Quest, Ray-Ban Meta glasses, and more. In our conversation, we discuss:

  • Stories from the early days of Facebook

  • Lessons from Meta’s downturn and recent turnaround

  • Meta’s culture of transparency

  • Boz’s thoughts on the Apple Vision Pro

  • Why communication is the job

  • Why you should regularly seek help from your manager

  • Lessons in setting incentives and avoiding their misuse

  • Why you should optimize for a variety in experience in your career

  • The importance of trusting your own expertise and not being swayed by external opinions

  • Stories of failures and personal growth

Some takeaways:

  1. During Facebook’s early days, Boz worked 120-hour weeks, sacrificing his health and social life. Despite glamorized narratives of Facebook’s success, the sacrifices and challenges of the initial team are often overlooked. While Boz celebrates startup culture, he also acknowledges its challenges.

  2. Ask your leaders or managers for help when facing difficulties. While seeking help may feel like conceding defeat, prioritize task completion over self-reliance. Leveraging leaders’ expertise is essential for problem-solving and may reveal new learning opportunities.

  3. Meta operates with a top-down ideation approach, led by Mark Zuckerberg, but emphasizes bottom-up execution. While Zuckerberg guides Meta’s direction, the company fosters a culture where everyone is encouraged to ask questions, contribute ideas, and share opinions.

  4. Meta’s bottom-up culture maximizes the talents of their workforce by providing them with comprehensive context for execution. Meta invests significant resources in managing information to enable this context-rich environment.

  5. Founders and leaders need to be able to identify the “Eye of Sauron” moments—those critical aspects that demand meticulous focus—and be willing to delegate less pivotal tasks to capable and trusted team members. Striking a balance between involvement and delegation is key to effective leadership.

  6. The experience of building Facebook’s News Feed is a great lesson on the importance of having conviction in your vision, even when faced with initial resistance. While it’s crucial to value customer feedback, startups should avoid being held hostage by the preferences of their early user base if it deviates from the broader market. It’s also important to recognize the distinction between making small mistakes in execution and when the core concept itself is flawed.

Listen now on Apple, Spotify, Overcast, and YouTube.

Where to find Andrew Bosworth:

• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/boz/

• Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/boztank/

• X: https://twitter.com/boztank

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrew-bosworth-8247a01/

• Website: https://boz.com/

• Photography website: https://wardenshortbow.com/

Where to find Lenny:

• Newsletter: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com

• X: https://twitter.com/lennysan

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lennyrachitsky/

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Boz’s background

(04:48) Fun facts about him

(07:20) Early days at Facebook

(11:11) Advice for founders

(13:22) Leveraging leaders

(19:27) Tips for communicating with managers

(22:10) Transparency at Meta

(27:01) The importance of clear guidelines

(29:11) Involvement in the details

(33:15) Building the News Feed

(37:28) Passion and career growth

(40:25) Exploring new opportunities

(42:02) The value of variety in experience

(45:01) Giving and receiving feedback

(47:38) Boz’s tattoos

(51:30) Communication is the job

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

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

(01:16:10) Navigating org changes

(01:20:43) Lessons from failure

(01:26:33) Closing thoughts

(01:29:57) Lightning round


• Reality Labs: https://about.meta.com/realitylabs/

• Quest: https://www.meta.com/quest/

• Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses: https://www.ray-ban.com/usa/ray-ban-meta-smart-glasses

• Taekwondo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taekwondo

• 4-H: https://4-h.org/

• David Copperfield’s website: https://www.davidcopperfield.com/html/

• MC Hammer on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mchammer/

• George W. Bush: https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/george-w-bush/

• Fry’s Electronics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fry%27s_Electronics

• Association for Computing Machinery: https://www.acm.org

• Get It Done: https://boz.com/articles/get-it-done

• Patrick Stewart on X: https://twitter.com/sirpatstew

• The FB Exec Practice That Changed the Way I Lead (about HPMs): https://livingos.substack.com/p/fb-exec-hpm

• Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zuck

• Chris Cox on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-cox-2896b841/

• Javier Olivan on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/javierolivan/

• Brian Chesky’s new playbook: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/brian-cheskys-new-playbook/

• Eye of Sauron: https://lotr.fandom.com/wiki/Eye_of_Sauron

• Ruchi Sanghvi on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rsanghvi/

• Eric Schmidt on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eric-e-schmidt/

• Sheryl Sandberg on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sheryl-sandberg-5126652/

• Best Advice Sheryl Sandberg Received: If Offered a Seat on Rocket Ship, Get On: https://news.yahoo.com/blogs/newsmakers/best-advice-sheryl-sandberg-received-don-t-idiot-161459450.html

• Veritas: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veritas

• Communication is The Job: https://boz.com/articles/communication-is-the-job

• Repetition does not spoil the prayer: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/repetition-does-spoil-prayer-constantine-constantinides-m-d-ph-d--1f/

• Janet Lansbury’s website: https://www.janetlansbury.com/

• Dr. Becky on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drbeckyatgoodinside

• Boz to the Future Episode 18: The Future According to Matthew Ball: https://www.meta.com/blog/quest/boz-to-the-future-episode-18-matthew-ball-metaverse-epyllion/

• Apple Vision Pro: https://www.apple.com/apple-vision-pro

• Quest 3 headset: https://www.meta.com/quest/quest-3/

• Virtual desktop: https://www.meta.com/experiences/2017050365004772/

• Meta Horizon Workrooms: https://www.meta.com/experiences/2514011888645651/ 

• After trying the Vision Pro, Mark Zuckerberg says Quest 3 ‘is the better product, period’: https://www.theverge.com/2024/2/13/24072413/mark-zuckerberg-apple-vision-pro-review-quest-3

• Lou Holtz on X: https://twitter.com/CoachLouHoltz88

• Gell-Mann amnesia effect: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Gell-Mann_Amnesia_effect

• “Wet streets cause rain”: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19026568

• Michael Crichton on X: https://twitter.com/CrichtonBooks

• AI research at Meta: https://ai.meta.com/research/

• Llama 2: https://llama.meta.com/

• Warren Buffett quote: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/warren_buffett_383933

• Mark Slee on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mcslee/

• Dave Fetterman on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davefetterman/

• Emacs and Vim: https://dev.to/george_udonte/emacs-and-vim-an-overview-for-beginners-2e65

• Ami Vora on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amvora/

The Dream Machine: https://www.amazon.com/Dream-Machine-M-Mitchell-Waldrop/dp/1732265119

• Alan Turing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing

Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be: https://www.amazon.com/Good-Inside-Guide-Becoming-Parent/dp/B09Y4WG7RJ

• Dr. Becky’s website: https://www.goodinside.com/

The Mandalorian on Disney+: https://www.disneyplus.com/series/the-mandalorian/3jLIGMDYINqD

• Scott Trowbridge on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/scott-trowbridge-b70866/

• Dave Filoni on X:  https://twitter.com/dave_filoni

• Jon Favreau on X: https://twitter.com/jon_favreau

• Mercedes-Benz AMG EQS Sedan: https://www.mbusa.com/en/vehicles/model/eqs/sedan/amgeqsv4

• Tracey Emin “Trust Yourself”: https://www.artsy.net/artwork/tracey-emin-trust-yourself

• Tracey Emin on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/traceyeminstudio

• Rick Rubin: Protocols to Access Creative Energy and Process | Huberman Lab Podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpgqXCkRO-w

• Ansel Adams: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ansel_Adams

Production and marketing by https://penname.co/. For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email podcast@lennyrachitsky.com.

Lenny may be an investor in the companies discussed.

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Lenny's Newsletter
Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career
Interviews with world-class product leaders and growth experts to uncover concrete, actionable, and tactical advice to help you build, launch, and grow your own product.