More than anyone else, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been the poster boy for Silicon Valley's problems. At 34, Zuckerberg, who famously wore a hoodie for much of his early career, is often seen as the undeserving leader of the social media giant and as being in over his head, even though he founded Facebook and has always been its leader. A brief internet search of Zuckerberg reveals headlines such as "Mark Zuckerberg Is Totally Out of His Depth" and "Mark Zuckerberg Keeps Forgetting About Humans."
There's been no shortage of criticism for the Facebook chief. In addition to testifying before Congress about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Zuckerberg has faced the #DeleteFacebook campaign where thousands of users, including actor Jim Carrey, promised to delete the app, as well as the ignominy of the biggest one-day loss in market value by a single stock in market history after his company said growth would slow in its recent earnings report.
Zuckerberg has faced calls to step down from both investors big and small as well as ordinary Facebook users for exposing user data and allowing the platform to be vulnerable to Russian hackers.
However, there are a number of reasons to keep Zuckerberg at the helm of the company he founded. Not least among those is Facebook's blockbuster stock performance, as shares are up nearly 400% since its 2012 IPO, even with the recent post-earnings sell-off. The biggest reason, though, to believe in Zuckerberg's leadership, in spite of Facebook's scandals, may be the opinion of the people who know Zuckerberg the best: his employees.
Through the Glassdoor
According to the website Glassdoor.com, the No. 1 resource for employee reviews and company ratings, Facebook is a great place to work -- in fact, it's the best. The social network rates an impressive 4.5 stars (out of 5), and an overwhelming 98% of employees say they approve of Zuckerberg as CEO. Meanwhile, 91% of respondents said they'd recommend the company to a friend. Glassdoor named Facebook its No. 1 Best Place to Work for 2018 and Zuckerberg as a Top CEO for this year as well, ranking him No. 16.
Facebook has been named one of the Best Places to Work for eight years straight and Zuckerberg as Top CEO for six years in a row. Many of the respondents praised the company's culture and called it an "awesome place to work." Like many Silicon Valley tech firms, Facebook pays well and offers good benefits, but it's the company culture that makes it such a desirable place to work and helps it recruit top talent. Zuckerberg, as the company's founder and CEO, is more responsible than anyone for that culture, instilling in it a "hacker" ethos and urging employees to "move fast and break things."
Facebook employees overwhelmingly love working there. They view senior management as transparent, believe in the company's mission, and feel valued by the company. That huge amount of goodwill from employees is not only good for the company's performance -- as happy employees do better work and a lower turnover rate is beneficial in multiple ways -- it also signals the high level of support Zuckerberg has among the ranks. If he were ousted from the leadership role by the board or activist investors, there would likely be a backlash among Facebook staff, or at least a significant dent to morale. Many of Facebook's employees likely see Zuckerberg's leadership as a big reason to work there, and even consider him as one of their heroes.
After all, the median age of Facebook's workforce is only 29. If you were a coder in college five or even 10 years ago, Zuckerberg was likely one of your icons. To eject him in favor of a stodgy tech veteran or even COO Sheryl Sandberg would be a huge mistake.
Zuckerberg has survived past challenges. In its early days on the public markets, Facebook stock tanked as the company struggled to adapt to mobile, but the company eventually figured it out and has gone to dominate mobile advertising. It has gradually adapted and modernized the product over the years, despite user complaints, and it successfully scaled up Instagram, attracting more than 1 billion users. It's already begun responding to data-sharing concerns in the wake of Cambridge Analytica.
The Facebook chief can resist the heat this time as well. His testimony to Congress was adroit, and the company's recent statements about security on the last earnings call shows it's taking steps to prevent future data breaches and manipulations.
For those still clamoring for Zuckerberg's departure, remember who's making this company work. It's millennial coders and Zuckerberg acolytes. To show their leader the door, especially after he's done such a phenomenal job for the company's financial performance, would upend much of what's made the company great.