Cool Leaders

Unleash talent

By Steen Albrechtlund

A short tale of medieval virtue ethics or why the Beau Geste doctrine is ever so slightly exhausting.

Platons most important scolar, Aristoteles, study of character and ethics, is built around the premise that people should achieve an excellent character as a pre-condition for attaining happiness or well-being.

Aristoteles works has since been refined and further developed by numerous thinkers such as Aegidius Romanus and Erasmus of Rotterdam in the late medieval. The basic thought is that an individual at all time must strive for a higher level of sense and insights to become closer to a divine state. Romanus was advocating for a constant chase to achieve perfection.

The leadership literature today has a direct line straight back to Aristoteles, Romanus and Erasmus thoughts around impeccable morale and ethics. The likes of Covey, Horsley, Ole Fogh Kirkeby and Einer Aadlan are among the dominant preachers of modern virtue ethics in management. And their releases are sold in millions and millions of copies.

Both Aadland and Kirkeby recommends that leaders enter into a lifelong training camp and perform an askesis to become virtous, insightful, prudent, diligent and all round ethical lighthouses where their influence is imminent in every tiny corner of the organization like the eye of Sauron. This is the perfect human being propelled into commercial divinity. The perfect Beau Geste baby of the reformed Dr. Mengele.

First problem is that this is utterly unachievable. When you constantly search for perfection, you essentially end up searching for yourself in a constant loop where you will only find flaws and one day you will realize that it’s the same good old John Doe with Caitlyn Jenners make up. After you spend a fortune on books, seminars, boot camps to strive for leadership nirvana. What is the result of this extreme sport for perfectionists? Disillusion, resignation and burn out.

Second problem is bigger as seen from the perspective of an organization. You become intolerable for your team and the lust for perfection and control becomes a virus that paralyzes the greatest asset of a company: The people.

Modern companies are full of Beau Geste leaders and they prevent the company to unfold its full potential. The need to create and control processes, systems and decisions simply suffocate talent and cripple’s maneuverability. The C19 crisis has demonstrated that talent flourishes when they have space to perform.

A great leader must be insightful into own strengths and weaknesses and accept the virtue composition. Only in that way the leader can be truly credible as a human being and the fear of being exposed as a fake perfectionist will be reduced.

A great leader sets targets, milestones with the team. A great leader create the strategy with the team. And the rest of the time a great leader makes sure to nourish the right talent and remove all resistance and any obstacle in the company’s performance circuit. Unleash talent.

Steen Albrectslund is former CEO of Skagen Designs, Fossil Inc. and Fitness World.

Cool Leaders

What concrete steps we can start working on to improve our products and policies

By Mark Zuckerberg

I just shared the following note with our employees, and I want to share it with all of you as well.


As we continue to process this difficult moment, I want to acknowledge the real pain expressed by members of our community. I also want to acknowledge that the decision I made last week has left many of you angry, disappointed and hurt. So I am especially grateful that, despite your heartfelt disagreement, you remain focused on taking positive steps to move forward. That can’t be easy, so I just want to say I hear you and I’m grateful.

I believe our platforms can play a positive role in helping to heal the divisions in our society, and I’m committed to making sure our work pulls in this direction. To all of you who have already worked tirelessly on ideas to improve, I thank you. You’re making a difference, and together we’ll make a difference. And while we will continue to stand for giving everyone a voice and erring on the side of free expression in these difficult decisions — even when it’s speech we strongly and viscerally disagree with — I’m committed to making sure we also fight for voter engagement and racial justice too.

Many of you have asked what concrete steps we can start working on to improve our products and policies. I want to share more about the seven areas I discussed at Q&A that we’re focusing on initially. Based on feedback from employees, civil rights experts and subject matter experts internally, we’re exploring the following areas, which fit into three categories: ideas related to specific policies, ideas related to decision-making, and proactive initiatives to advance racial justice and voter engagement. I want to be clear that while we are looking at all of these areas, we may not come up with changes we want to make in all of them.

Ideas related to specific policies:

  1. We’re going to review our policies allowing discussion and threats of state use of force to see if there are any amendments we should adopt. There are two specific situations under this policy that we’re going to review. The first is around instances of excessive use of police or state force. Given the sensitive history in the US, this deserves special consideration. The second case is around when a country has ongoing civil unrest or violent conflicts. We already have precedents for imposing greater restrictions during emergencies and when countries are in ongoing states of conflict, so there may be additional policies or integrity measures to consider around discussion or threats of state use of force when a country is in this state.
  2. We’re going to review our policies around voter suppression to make sure we’re taking into account the realities of voting in the midst of a pandemic. I have confidence in the election integrity efforts we’ve implemented since 2016. We’ve played a role in protecting many elections and now have some of the most advanced systems in the world. But there’s a good chance that there will be unprecedented fear and confusion around going to the polls in November, and some will likely try to capitalize on that confusion. For example, as politicians debate what the vote-by-mail policies should be in different states, what should be the line between a legitimate debate about the voting policies and attempts to confuse or suppress individuals about how, when or where to vote? If a newspaper publishes articles claiming that going to polls will be dangerous given Covid, how should we determine whether that is health information or voter suppression?
  3. We’re going to review potential options for handling violating or partially-violating content aside from the binary leave-it-up or take-it-down decisions. I know many of you think we should have labeled the President’s posts in some way last week. Our current policy is that if content is actually inciting violence, then the right mitigation is to take that content down — not let people continue seeing it behind a flag. There is no exception to this policy for politicians or newsworthiness. I think this policy is principled and reasonable, but I also respect a lot of the people who think there may be better alternatives, so I want to make sure we hear all those ideas. I started meeting with the team yesterday and we’re continuing the discussion soon. In general, I worry that this approach has a risk of leading us to editorialize on content we don’t like even if it doesn’t violate our policies, so I think we need to proceed very carefully.

Ideas related to decision-making:

  1. We’re going to work on establishing a clearer and more transparent decision-making process. This is clearly not the last difficult decision we’re going to have to make, and I agree with the feedback from many of you that we should have a more transparent process about how we weigh the different values and equities at stake, including safety and privacy. I think we can provide more transparency into what goes into the policy briefings and recommendations that get sent to me. These analyses are done thoroughly by Monika Bickert’s team and take into account many voices. Since I accept the team’s recommendations the vast majority of the time, this process is where I think we should focus most on transparency. For the most sensitive escalations where I discuss with the team further rather than just accepting their recommendation over email, we can try to outline how we incorporate all perspectives into those follow-up discussions as well, even though that tends to vary depending on the equities at stake in each decision.
  2. More broadly, we’re going to review whether we need to change anything structurally to make sure the right groups and voices are at the table — not only when decisions affecting a certain group are being made, but when other decisions that may set precedents are being made as well. I’m committed to elevating the representation of diversity, inclusion and human rights in our processes and management team discussions, and I will follow up soon with specific thoughts on how we can structurally improve this.

Proactive initiatives to advance racial justice and voter engagement:

  1. We’ve started a workstream for building products to advance racial justice. Many of you have shared ideas in the past few days on product improvements we can look at, and I’ve been impressed by how quickly we’ve moved here. I’ve asked Fidji to be responsible for this work, and Ime will be shifting some volunteers from our New Products Experimentation team to focus on this as well. They’ll have more to share on the first set of projects we’re planning to take on soon.
  2. We’re building a voter hub to double down on our previous get-out-the-vote efforts. At the end of the day, voting is the best way to hold our leaders accountable and address many of these long term questions about justice. Our efforts will draw on lessons we learned from our successful Covid Information Center in order to make our voting and civic engagement efforts as central as our efforts around Covid recovery. We’ll focus on making sure everyone has access to accurate and authoritative information about voting, as well as building tools to encourage people to register to vote and help them encourage their friends and communities to vote as well. In 2016, we ran one of the largest get out the vote efforts in history. I expect us to do even better in 2020.

To members of our Black community: I stand with you. Your lives matter. Black lives matter.

We have so far to go to overcome racial injustice in America and around the world, and we all have a responsibility and opportunity to change that. I believe our platforms will play a positive role in this, but we have work to do to make sure our role is as positive as possible. These ideas are a starting point and I’m sure we’ll find more to do as we continue on this journey. I encourage you all to also check out Maxine’s post about how you can give direct feedback on product, integrity and content policy ideas as well. Thanks for all your input so far, and I’m looking forward to making progress together over the coming weeks and months.

Cool Leaders · Media

We are witnessing the emergence of a new media economy

By Hamish McKenzie

In 2010, at 29 years old, I came to the US as a freelance journalist. My previous job had been as a writer for an entertainment magazine in Hong Kong, and I had no connections here. That first year, living in Austin, Texas, I scrapped for stories about cartel murders, human relationships, and, um, the World Beard and Moustache Championships. I sent them to magazines and newspapers in Hong Kong and New Zealand. For extra income on the side, I wrote entries for ad agencies that were submitting their work for awards. At the end of the year, I tallied my pre-tax earnings and found I had made $35,000. 

That amount seemed small to some of my friends. Despite two advanced degrees and six years of journalism experience, I earned a lot less than peers who had gone into other careers. But I was so proud of myself. I didn’t care about getting rich. I cared only about earning enough money to keep doing work that I felt was meaningful – in ways big and small. A phone call I received a few years earlier during an internship for a New Zealand newspaper had stuck in my mind. I had written an article about a group of World War II veterans who were raising funds for a memorial trip to Crete, where some of their friends were laid to rest. It was a short piece buried in the middle of the paper, and I had thought little of it. But after it was published, a daughter of one of the veterans called to thank me, profusely, because the article meant so much to those men. I would go on to write much bigger stories in my career, but I was forever in search of the feeling I had on that call. My storytelling had made a positive difference in someone’s life. It was the best kind of pay a journalist could hope for.

Were I starting as a freelancer in a similar position today, I don’t think I could scrape together $35,000 in a year – even with corporate side gigs. An industry that once sustained so many writing careers is now in a freefall accelerated by the pandemic. I have been watching in dismay as news organizations of all sizes from around the world have been laying off journalists and slashing freelance budgets. My friends are losing their livelihoods. Writers I have respected for years are getting desperate. These people aren’t just in despair over losing their jobs; they’re scared that the very profession might disappear. Will being a journalist ever be financially viable again? Most of them have never sought riches; they just hope to earn enough money to cover the bills so they can do the work they believe is important. To many, that’s starting to look impossible. 

One of the most painful aspects of this situation is that journalism itself isn’t broken. People want and need trusted storytelling more than ever, and there are many capable journalists ready to do the work. But the business model that supports journalism is broken, with devastating repercussions. In recent weeks, we’ve seen mass layoffs at The Economist, Condé Nast, Quartz, BuzzFeed, Vice, and Protocol, to name a few. There will be thousands more. These losses come on top of years of retrenchment and consolidation, including the sales of once-vaunted and now-distressed publications to legacy-burnishing billionaires, and the bankruptcies and mergers of giant newspaper groups such as McClatchy, Gannett, and GateHouse — a crushing blow to local news in particular.

Some in the news business hope that Facebook and Google, under the right pressure from regulators, will send them rescue money. But no matter how much money can be squeezed out of the tech giants, it will never be enough to fix the broken parts of the support system that once sustained the free press. Instead, to find a way forward, those who care about the future of news need to play a different game – one that puts writers in control of their own destiny.

This is one of the key reasons we started Substack. We’re attempting to build an alternative media economy that gives journalists autonomy. If you don’t rely on ads for your revenue, you don’t have to be a pawn in the attention economy – which means you don’t have to compete with Facebook and Google. If you’re not playing the ads game, you can stop chasing clicks and instead focus on quality. If you control the relationship with your audience, you don’t have to rely on outside parties to favor you with traffic. And if you own a mailing list, no-one can cut you off from your readers. 

In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about what might come along to “save” the news business from the ravages of the internet. But I think that’s the wrong framing. It’s better to ask: How can we use the internet to reinvent the entire business? We’ve defaulted to ads as the dominant business model for so long that we’ve failed to fully explore other options. I don’t accept that an ad-supported model is the best possible way to unleash humanity’s ability to produce and disseminate trustworthy storytelling. I don’t believe that we’ve seen the full potential of how good the news business can be. And yes, now we are in a crisis. But that crisis is an opportunity for reinvention. It’s a chance to build a new system where writers are well compensated and communities are well served. The internet might have helped get us into this mess, but it can also get us out.

The internet makes distribution frictionless and free – what used to take hours in trucks now takes milliseconds on the web. It makes a writer’s potential audience global instead of local. And it makes it easy to get paid. With a tool like Substack, you don’t need a complicated setup to manage the flow of information and money. When you don’t have to worry about a tech stack, design, back-office admin, or advertisers, you can spend all your time and energy on the most important thing: the journalism itself. 

With the subscription model, the numbers don’t have to be huge to produce meaningful revenue. If you can persuade a couple thousand people to pay you $5 a month, you’ll make $100,000 a year. It’s not easy – it takes time, dedication, and care – but it’s more doable than ever. In 2007, when I was hired as a reporter for a new trade magazine in Hong Kong, the assumption was that magazines like that took three years to become profitable. With the Substack model, the time to profitability can be reduced to months or even days, since you don’t need to staff up, build a sales operation, or stand up the technological infrastructure. 

Look at what Polina Marinova, formerly of Fortune, is doing with The Profile, where she focuses on deep-dives on fascinating people; or what Tony Mecia, formerly of the Weekly Standard, is doing with business news publication the Charlotte Ledger; or how Richard Rushfield, a former editor of HitFix, is covering the business of Hollywood with The Ankler. Matt Taibbi left Rolling Stone and is using Substack to put a spotlight on corruption in politics. Matt Elliott is covering Toronto’s City Hall. Judd Legum is exposing miscreant corporate giants with Popular Information

These journalists are doing the work they find most meaningful, having an impact, and making good money along the way. Emily Atkin, formerly of the New Republic, launched her climate change publication Heated in late 2019. A few months later, she is doing better by all measures than in any of her previous journalism jobs. “I was so scared when I left the New Republic that I would have to fight so hard to make my work have an impact because I lacked this institutional support,” Emily told an audience of writers in New York earlier this year, adding later: “I can’t believe how wrong I was.”

“I’ve never seen the type of impact that I’ve had in a 10-year reporting career than what I’ve had with such a smaller news audience, and that’s because these are passionate people. These are people who are there because of you, and they’re invested in you, and they take what you do and they yell about it.” 

Even though Emily is just getting started with Heated, it’s already working out financially, she said. Her income is comfortably in six figures. “I make more money now than I had at any salaried journalism job.”

Today, Substack publications are like islands on their own, with little communication between each. But over time, we aim to build Substack into a network, where writers can support each other and readers can find millions of deeply satisfying media experiences. As the network grows, there’ll be opportunity for cooperation, community, and innovation. We’re already starting to see people work together to take advantage of new opportunities with Substack. The writers who used to staff Gizmodo Media Group’s Splinter have started a new project called Discourse Blog. The Weekly Standard’s former editor-in-chief, Steve Hayes, teamed up with Jonah Goldberg and David French from the National Review to create The Dispatch, which crossed $1 million in revenue in a matter of weeks. A team of basketball writers who love the Golden State Warriors left SB Nation and created Let’s Go Warriors. Dan Shipper and Nathan Baschez have jury-rigged a bundle for their business-strategy publications, Divinations and Superorganizers

I’m wary of selling false hope to journalists who have been burned many times over by grand promises from technology companies. It is true that this new model won’t immediately work for everyone. But there are early signs that we are witnessing the emergence of a new media economy. The top writers on Substack are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and there’s a rapidly growing middle class, with writers and podcasters netting incomes that range from pocket money to high five figures. There are now well over 100,000 paying subscribers to Substack publications. We are learning from the activity in these early days and building resources and programs — such as fellowshipsworkshops, and grants — to help as many people as possible succeed.  

As I reflect on my career as a journalist, I feel compelled to do everything in my power to help. I can’t guarantee success to just anyone who starts on Substack, but I can guarantee our support. If you’ve been affected by this crisis and are interested in exploring what’s possible on Substack, please get in touch (hello@substack.com). Our team is focused on taking one-on-one coaching and development calls to talk about editorial strategies, how to think about launching paid subscriptions, and offering best practices for getting started. But we also know that the best guides are other writers on Substack who are succeeding with the model. Below is a list of Susbtack writers who have volunteered to offer advice. Fill in this form and we’ll set you up on a call. 

I believe that we’ll get through this together, and one day we will look back at this time not as the end of days, but as the start of a transition that transformed journalism for the better. 

Thank you to everyone who has supported Substack, and Substack writers, so far. There’s so much more to come.


Substack writers who have volunteered to offer advice calls 

To schedule a call, please complete this form.

(Want to add your name to this list? Email hello@substack.com with “Volunteer” in the subject line.)


Hamish is co-founder and COO of Substack.

Thanks for subscribing to Substack Blog. This post is public, so feel free to share it.

Cool Leaders

This is a global crisis and for millions of children the impact will be life long

By Greta Thunberg

Very honoured to receive Human Act Award. The prize money – 100 000 USD – will be donated to @unicef . Human Act will match this donation with an additional USD 100,000 for the total sum of USD 200,000.

So today we are launching a joint global funding campaign – Let’s Move Humanity for Children in the Fight Against Coronavirus – to support UNICEF´s efforts to protect and save children’s lives during the corona crisis.

The poorest and the most vulnerable people are always the hardest hit by a crisis.
Just like the climate crisis, the consequences of the corona pandemic will be most damaging for children in poor countries, in the poorest neighborhoods and for those already in disadvantaged and vulnerable situations.

More than 1,5 billion children are today affected by school closures.
This has a direct effect on millions of children and young people’s possibilities to learn, to a lunch meal and get access to water and sanitation.

More than 300 million school children rrely on schools as a source of daily nutrition.

Millions of children do not have access to distance learning. The digital divide is an example of global inequalities that affects the most vulnerable children.

Even if children so far generally have been spared the most severe symptoms of the Covid-19 virus, children’s lives and heath are already at risk. This is mainly due to lack of access to healthcare services – both for children and pregnant women – because of vaccination campaigns being suspended as well as lack of nutrition.

With the global health care services becoming overwhelmed there will be many additional child deaths in 2020.

This is a global crisis and for millions of children the impact will be life long. We need to act now – for the sake of every child.

The time is now, and we need your help to protect children. Donate today here . Thank you!

Cool Leaders

BIG 3D printing 10,000 face shields a week

By Kai-Uwe Bergmann

BIG is now producing 10,000 face shields a week supplying much needed PPE to all our communities where we have offices. This effort spearheaded by BIGster Bernardo Shumacher a month ago has now involved dozens of BIGsters in a 24 hour 7 days a week operation.

All face shields are being donated to local hospitals and health care facilities as well as at risk citizens.

We will continue to contribute to this crowdsourcing effort within the architecture and maker communities as long as there is a need.

Cool Leaders

A letter from Greta

Greta Thunberg on Facebook:

Impostors, trademarks, commercial interests, royalties and foundation…

First: Unfortunately there are still people who are trying to impersonate me or falsely claim that they “represent” me in order to communicate with high profile people, politicians, media, artists etc. Please be aware that this is happening and be extremely suspicious if you are contacted by ”me” or someone saying they ”represent” me.
I apologize to anyone who has been contacted – and even misled – by this kind of behavior.

Second: My name and the #FridaysForFuture movement are constantly being used for commercial purposes without any consent whatsoever. It happens for instance in marketing, selling of products and people collecting money in my and the movement’s name.
That is why I’ve applied to register my name, Fridays For Future, Skolstrejk för klimatet etc as trademarks. This action is to protect the movement and its activities. It is also needed to enable my pro bono legal help to take necessary action against people or corporations etc who are trying to use me and the movement in purposes not in line with what the movement stands for. I assure you, I and the other school strikers have absolutely no interests in trademarks. But unfortunately it needs to be done.

Fridays For Future is a global movement founded by me. It belongs to anyone taking part in it, above all the young people. It can – and must – not be used for individual or commercial purposes.

And third: together with my family I’m setting up a foundation. It’s already registered and existing, but it not is not yet up and running. This is strictly nonprofit of course and there are no interests in philanthropy. It is just something that is needed for handling money (book royalties, donations, prize money etc) in a completely transparent way. For instance, taxes have to be paid before we can give them away to specified purposes and charities. This takes a lot of time and work, and when the foundation is fully up and running I will tell you more.
The foundation’s aim will be to promote ecological, climatic and social sustainability as well as mental health.

Love
Greta

Cool Leaders

What I hope the world and my life will look in 2030

By Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook:

Every new year of the last decade I set a personal challenge. My goal was to grow in new ways outside my day-to-day work running Facebook. These led me to learn Mandarin, code an AI assistant for my home, read more books, run a lot more, learn to hunt and cook, and get more comfortable with public speaking.

When I started these challenges, my life was almost all about building the Facebook website. (It was mostly a website at the time.) Now there’s so much more to learn from. At Facebook, we’re building lots of different apps and technology — ranging from a new private social platform to augmented and virtual reality — and we’re handling a lot more social responsibility. And outside Facebook, I’m a father now and I love spending time with my family, working on our philanthropy, and improving at the sports and hobbies I’ve picked up over the years. So while I’m glad I did annual challenges over the last decade, it’s time to do something different.

This decade I’m going to take a longer term focus. Rather than having year-to-year challenges, I’ve tried to think about what I hope the world and my life will look in 2030 so I can make sure I’m focusing on those things. By then, if things go well, my daughter Max will be in high school, we’ll have the technology to feel truly present with another person no matter where they are, and scientific research will have helped cure and prevent enough diseases to extend our average life expectancy by another 2.5 years. Here are some of the things that I think will be important in the next decade:

Generational Change

When I started Facebook, one of the reasons I cared about giving people a voice was that I thought it would empower my generation — which I felt had important things to say and weren’t being listened to enough. It turned out it wasn’t just my generation that felt marginalized and needed more voice though, and these tools have given power to lots of different groups across society. I’m glad more people have voice, but it hasn’t yet brought about the generational change in addressing important issues I had hoped for. I think that will happen this decade.

Today, many important institutions in our society still aren’t doing enough to address the issues younger generations face — from climate change to runaway costs of education, housing and healthcare. But as millennials and more members of younger generations can vote, I expect this to start changing rapidly. By the end of this decade, I expect more institutions will be run by millennials and more policies will be set to address these problems with longer term outlooks.

In many ways, Facebook is a millennial company with the issues of this generation in mind. At the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, our focus is on very long term efforts that will primarily help our children’s generation, like investing in curing, preventing and managing all diseases in our children’s lifetimes, or making primary education more personalized to students needs. Over the next decade, we’ll focus more on funding and giving a platform to younger entrepreneurs, scientists, and leaders to enable these changes.

A New Private Social Platform

The internet gave us the superpower of being able to connect with anyone, anywhere. This is incredibly empowering and means that our relationships and opportunities are no longer confined to just where we live. We’re now part of a community with billions of people in it — with all the dynamism, culture and economic opportunity that brings.

But being part of such a large community creates its own challenges and makes us crave intimacy. When I grew up in a small town, it was easy to have a niche and sense of purpose. But with billions of people, it’s harder to find your unique role. For the next decade, some of the most important social infrastructure will help us reconstruct all kinds of smaller communities to give us that sense of intimacy again.

This is one of the areas of innovation I’m most excited about. Our digital social environments will feel very different over the next 5+ years, re-emphasizing private interactions and helping us build the smaller communities we all need in our lives.

Decentralizing Opportunity

In the last decade, the fastest growth in the economy has been in the tech industry. In the next decade, I expect technology will continue to create opportunity, but more through enabling all of the other parts of the economy to make better use of technology and grow even faster.

The area we’re most focused on is helping small businesses. Across our services, more than 140 million small businesses already reach customers — mostly for free. Today this takes the form of an entrepreneur setting up an account on Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp, and then either communicating with people for free or buying ads to get their message out more broadly. Over the next decade, we hope to build the commerce and payments tools so that every small business has easy access to the same technology that previously only big companies have had.

If we can make it so anyone can sell products through a storefront on Instagram, message and support their customers through Messenger, or send money home to another country instantly and at low cost through WhatsApp — that will go a long way towards creating more opportunity around the world. At the end of the day, a strong and stable economy comes from people succeeding broadly, and the best way to do that is to make it so small businesses can effectively become technology companies.

The Next Computing Platform

The technology platform of the 2010s was the mobile phone. The platform of the 2000s before that was about the web, and the 1990s was the desktop computer. Each computing platform becomes more ubiquitously accessible and natural for us to interact with. While I expect phones to still be our primary devices through most of this decade, at some point in the 2020s, we will get breakthrough augmented reality glasses that will redefine our relationship with technology.

Augmented and virtual reality are about delivering a sense of presence — the feeling that you’re right there with another person or in another place. Instead of having devices that take us away from the people around us, the next platform will help us be more present with each other and will help the technology get out of the way. Even though some of the early devices seem clunky, I think these will be the most human and social technology platforms anyone has built yet.

The ability to be “present” anywhere will also help us address some of the biggest social issues of our day — like ballooning housing costs and inequality of opportunity by geography. Today, many people feel like they have to move to cities because that’s where the jobs are. But there isn’t enough housing in many cities, so housing costs are skyrocketing while quality of living is decreasing. Imagine if you could live anywhere you chose and access any job anywhere else. If we deliver on what we’re building, this should be much closer to reality by 2030.

New Forms of Governance

One of the big questions for the next decade is: how should we govern the large new digital communities that the internet has enabled? Platforms like Facebook have to make tradeoffs on social values we all hold dear — like between free expression and safety, or between privacy and law enforcement, or between creating open systems and locking down data and access. It’s rare that there’s ever a clear “right” answer, and in many cases it’s as important that the decisions are made in a way that feels legitimate to the community. From this perspective, I don’t think private companies should be making so many important decisions that touch on fundamental democratic values.

One way to address this is through regulation. As long as our governments are seen as legitimate, rules established through a democratic process could add more legitimacy and trust than rules defined by companies alone. There are a number of areas where I believe governments establishing clearer rules would be helpful, including around elections, harmful content, privacy, and data portability. I’ve called for new regulation in these areas and over the next decade I hope we get clearer rules for the internet.

Another and perhaps even better way to address this is by establishing new ways for communities to govern themselves. An example of independent governance is the Oversight Board we’re creating. Soon you’ll be able to appeal content decisions you disagree with to an independent board that will have the final decision in whether something is allowed. This decade, I hope to use my position to establish more community governance and more institutions like this. If this is successful, it could be a model for other online communities in the future.

We’ve got a lot to do this decade and there’s a lot to learn to help make this all happen. I hope your new year and new decade are off to a good start. Here’s to a great 2020s.

Cool Leaders

Facebook now have more than 35,000 people working on safety and security

By Mark Zuckerberg

We just shared our community update and quarterly results. Here’s what I said on our earnings call.

Before we get started, I want to talk about the announcement we just shared that Sue Desmond-Hellmann is leaving our board to focus on her health and other commitments. Sue has been a wonderful and thoughtful voice on our board for six years, and I’m deeply personally grateful for everything she has done for this company.

This was a good quarter for our community and our business. There are now around 2.8 billion people using Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger each month, and around 2.2 billion people using at least one of our services daily. The Facebook app had a particularly strong quarter, including in the US and Canada. We also recently released that we estimate that more than 140 million businesses, mostly small businesses, are using our services each month to grow, create jobs and become social hubs in their communities.

This has been a busy quarter on a lot of fronts.

We’ve launched a number of new exciting products, like Facebook Dating in the US, which is doing quite well, Threads for Instagram, a camera-first experience to share with your close friends, Facebook News, our dedicated product for news that we’ve built in partnership with news publishers, and we introduced Horizon, a new social experience for VR. We also released hand-tracking technology for Oculus and Oculus Link so your Quest is basically now a Rift too. We’re making progress building out the private social platform across WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram Direct. And we have multiple exciting initiatives around commerce and payments that are moving forward, from Marketplace to Instagram Shopping to payments in WhatsApp and continuing our discussions on Libra.

This has also been a busy quarter on the policy and social issues front. We formally entered into a settlement with the FTC to make structural changes and build a rigorous privacy program that will set a new standard for our industry. We’re about a year out now from the 2020 elections and we just announced that the systems we’ve built are now so advanced that we’ve proactively identified and removed multiple foreign interference campaigns coming from Russia and Iran. And we’ve found ourselves in the middle of the debate about what political speech is acceptable in the upcoming campaigns.

But today I want to focus on talking about principles. Because from a business perspective, it might be easier for us to choose a different path than the one we’re taking. So I want to make sure everyone is clear about what we stand for, and why we’re making some of the decisions we’re making.

I gave a speech a couple weeks ago about the importance of standing for voice and free expression. I believe strongly — and I believe that history supports — that free expression has been important for driving progress and building more inclusive societies around the world, that at times of social tension there has often been urge to pull back on free expression, and that we will be best served over the long term by resisting this urge and defending free expression.

Today is certainly a historical moment of social tension, and I view an important role of our company as defending free expression.

Now this has never been absolute and of course we take our responsibility to prevent harm very seriously too. I think we invest more in getting harmful content off our services than any other company in the world. Those who follow us closely know that we have more than 35,000 people working on safety and security, and that our budget for this work is billions of dollars a year — more than the whole revenue of our company at the time of our IPO earlier this decade. And we’re going to keep on investing more here. But while we work hard to remove content that can cause real danger, I think we also need to be careful about adopting more and more rules that restrict the way that people can speak and what they can say.

Right now, the content debate is about political ads. Should we block political ads with false statements? Should we block all political ads? Google, YouTube and most internet platforms run these same ads, most cable networks run these same ads, and of course national broadcasters are required by law to run them by FCC regulations. I think there are good reasons for this. In a democracy, I don’t think it’s right for private companies to censor politicians or the news. And although I’ve considered whether we should not carry these ads in the past, and I’ll continue to do so, on balance so far I’ve thought we should continue. Ads can be an important part of voice — especially for candidates and advocacy groups the media might not otherwise cover so they can get their message into debates. And it’s hard to define where to draw the line. Would we really block ads for important political issues like climate change or women’s empowerment? Instead, I believe the better approach is to work to increase transparency. Ads on Facebook are already more transparent than anywhere else. We have a political ads archive so anyone can scrutinize every ad that’s run — you can see every message, who saw it, how much was spent — something that no TV or print media does.

Since this is an earnings call, I want to talk about the business impact of all this.

Some people accuse us of allowing this speech because they think all we care about is making money. That’s wrong. I can assure you, from a business perspective, the controversy this creates far outweighs the very small percent of our business that these political ads make up. We estimate these ads from politicians will be less than 0.5% of our revenue next year. That’s not why we’re doing this. To put this in perspective, the FTC fine that these same critics said wouldn’t be enough to change our incentives was more than 10x bigger than this. The reality is that we believe deeply that political speech is important and should be able to be heard, and that’s what’s driving us.

Other people say this policy is a part of a broader pattern of us building a system that incentivizes inflammatory content to fuel our business. Again, to the contrary, I think we’ve done more than any of the other major internet platforms to try to build positive incentives into our systems. We don’t let any of our News Feed or Instagram Feed teams set goals around increasing time spent on our services. We rank feeds to encourage meaningful social interactions — helping people connect with friends, family and their communities. We have real people come in and tell us what content they saw that was most meaningful to them and sparked valuable discussions, and then we build systems to try to surface that kind of content. We’ve taken many steps over the years to fight clickbait and polarization, and now we’re even testing removing like counts in Instagram and Facebook. We do this because we know that if we help people have meaningful interactions, they’ll find our services more valuable and that’s the key to building something sustainable and growing over time.

Last year, you probably remember we made a series of changes that emphasized friends and family and reduced time spent on our services. One change removed 50 million hours of viral video watching a day. We did this knowing it would mean people spend a lot less time on our apps — which is not what you do if you’re just prioritizing engagement over everything else. I take getting these incentives right very seriously and we’re willing to make huge sacrifices in the short term to do what we think is right and will be better over time.

Finally, some people say this is just all a cynical political calculation and that we’re acting in a way we don’t believe because we’re just trying to appease conservatives. That’s wrong too. We face a lot of criticism from both progressives and conservatives. Frankly, if our goal were trying to make either side happy, then we’re not doing a very good job because I’m pretty sure everyone is frustrated with us. Our values on voice and free expression are not partisan. But unfortunately, in our current environment, a lot of people look at every decision through the lens of whether it’s going to help or hurt the candidate they want in winning their next election.

A lot of people have told us: you’ve got to pick a side, or else both sides are going to cause a lot of problems for you. Sadly, from a practical perspective, they may be right. But we can’t make decisions that way. Over the next year of campaigns, we’re going to be at the center of the debate anytime there’s content or policies on any of our services that people believe could advantage or disadvantage their side. This may lead to more investigations, and the candidates are going to criticize us.

I expect that this is going to be a very tough year. We try to do what we think is right, but we’re not going to get everything right. This is complex stuff and anyone who says the answers are simple hasn’t thought long enough about all the nuances and downstream challenges.

I get that some people will disagree with our decisions. I get that some people will think our decisions may have a negative impact on things they really care about. But I don’t think anyone can say we’re not doing what we believe, or that we haven’t thought hard about these issues.

I could be wrong, but my experience running this company so far has been that if we do what we believe is right, even when it’s unpopular for years at a time — then eventually it has worked out best for our community and for our business too.

There’s a lot at stake here. We are at a cross-roads not only in our own country, but in the future of the global internet as well. China is building its own internet and media ecosystem that’s focused on very different values. As these systems compete, the question of which nation’s values will determine what speech is allowed for decades to come really puts into perspective the issues we face today. Because while we may disagree on exactly where to draw the line on specific issues, we at least can disagree. That’s what free expression is about.

Voice and expression have been important for progress throughout history. They’ve been important in the fight for democracy worldwide. And I believe that voice and free expression are an important part of the path forward today, and that’s why our company will continue standing for these principles.

As always, I am grateful for all of your support in everything that we do — and that’s especially true today. In addition to these challenges, there are a lot of great things going on that I’m incredibly proud of and excited about, and I’m glad that our community and business trends continue heading in a good direction.

Cool Leaders

Introducing the Facebook Independent Oversight Board

By Mark Zuckerberg

One of the most important projects I’ve worked on over the past couple of years is establishing an independent Oversight Board that our community can appeal to on some of the hardest questions about what content is allowed on our services. Today we’re publishing the board’s charter which articulates how it will operate and uphold its duty to protect free expression for our community. Below is a letter I wrote to go along with the charter and discuss why I think this is important.

Facebook is built to give people a voice. Free expression is fundamental to who we are as a company, just as it is to a free, inclusive and democratic society. We believe the more people who have the power to express themselves, the more progress our society makes together. We want to make sure our products and policies support this.

We also recognize that there are times when people use their voice to endanger others. That’s why we have Community Standards to articulate what is and isn’t allowed on our platforms. When we enforce these policies, we follow a set of values — authenticity, safety, privacy, and dignity — guided by international human rights standards. Our commitment to free expression is paramount, but we still need to keep people safe and take down harmful content.

We are responsible for enforcing our policies every day and we make millions of content decisions every week. But ultimately I don’t believe private companies like ours should be making so many important decisions about speech on our own. That’s why I’ve called for governments to set clearer standards around harmful content. It’s also why we’re now giving people a way to appeal our content decisions by establishing the independent Oversight Board.

If someone disagrees with a decision we’ve made, they can appeal to us first, and soon they will be able to further appeal to this independent board. The board’s decision will be binding, even if I or anyone at Facebook disagrees with it. The board will use our values to inform its decisions and explain its reasoning openly and in a way that protects people’s privacy.

The board will be an advocate for our community — supporting people’s right to free expression, and making sure we fulfill our responsibility to keep people safe. As an independent organization, we hope it gives people confidence that their views will be heard, and that Facebook doesn’t have the ultimate power over their expression. Just as our Board of Directors keeps Facebook accountable to our shareholders, we believe the Oversight Board can do the same for our community.

Over the past year, we’ve gotten feedback from experts around the world on what this board should look like. We’ve researched similar bodies, released a draft charter, run a public consultation process, engaged in workshops and published a summary of the feedback. This charter reflects much of what we’ve heard, and it gives answers to some of the biggest questions we’ve been considering: How should board members be selected? How do we protect their independence from Facebook but also make sure they’re committed to our principles? How do people petition the board? How does the board decide which cases to hear?

In this charter, Facebook is making several commitments to the board. We’re committing to implement the board’s content decisions and taking action regarding its advisory opinions on our policies. We’re committing to preserving and protecting the board’s ability to exercise its independent judgement. And we’re committing to providing the board with the information and resources it needs to make informed decisions.

This charter brings us another step closer to establishing the board, but there is a lot of work still ahead. We expect the board will only hear a small number of cases at first, but over time we hope it will expand its scope and potentially include more companies across the industry as well.

Building institutions that protect free expression and online communities is important for the future of the internet. I’m looking forward to seeing how the board evolves. Thank you to everyone who has given their time, effort and energy to this project to help get it right.

You can read the full charter here.

Cool Leaders

Introducing Libra

libra2

By Mark Zuckerberg

Today, Facebook is coming together with 27 organizations around the world to start the non-profit Libra Association and create a new currency called Libra.

Libra’s mission is to create a simple global financial infrastructure that empowers billions of people around the world. It’s powered by blockchain technology and the plan is to launch it in 2020. You can read more about the association here: https://libra.org/

Being able to use mobile money can have an important positive impact on people’s lives because you don’t have to always carry cash, which can be insecure, or pay extra fees for transfers. This is especially important for people who don’t have access to traditional banks or financial services. Right now, there are around a billion people who don’t have a bank account but do have a mobile phone.

We aspire to make it easy for everyone to send and receive money just like you use our apps to instantly share messages and photos. To enable this, Facebook is also launching an independent subsidiary called Calibra that will build services that let you send, spend and save Libra — starting with a digital wallet that will be available in WhatsApp and Messenger and as a standalone app next year.

Calibra will be regulated like other payment service providers. Any information you share with Calibra will be kept separate from information you share on Facebook. From the beginning, Calibra will let you send Libra to almost anyone with a smartphone at low to no cost. Over time, we hope to offer more services for people and businesses — like paying bills with the push of a button, buying coffee with the scan of a code, or riding local public transit without needing to carry cash or a metro pass.

In addition to our efforts, many other companies will build their own services using Libra — from payment companies like Mastercard, PayPal, PayU, Stripe and Visa, to popular services like Booking, eBay, Farfetch, Lyft, Spotify and Uber, to non-profits doing important work around financial inclusion like Kiva, Mercy Corps and Women’s World Banking, to companies in the crypto space like Anchorage, Coinbase, Xapo, and Bison Trails. A number of leading Venture firms are also joining to help drive innovation on the Libra network. We’re hoping to have over 100 cofounding members of the Libra Association by the time the network launches next year.

All of this is built on blockchain technology. It’s decentralized — meaning it’s run by many different organizations instead of just one, making the system fairer overall. It’s available to anyone with an internet connection and has low fees and costs. And it’s secured by cryptography which helps keep your money safe.

This is an important part of our vision for a privacy-focused social platform — where you can interact in all the ways you’d want privately, from messaging to secure payments.

Privacy and safety will be built into every step. For example, Calibra will have a dedicated team of experts in risk management focused on preventing people from using Calibra for fraudulent purposes. We’ll provide fraud protection so if you lose your Libra coins, we’ll offer refunds. We also believe it’s important for people to have choices so you’ll have the options to use many other third-party wallets on the Libra network.

There’s still a lot more to learn and do before Libra will be ready to officially launch. We know it’s a major undertaking and responsibility — and we’re committed to getting this right. We’ve been working with policymakers and experts in areas like financial inclusion, economics, security, privacy and blockchain, and we’ll continue listening to their feedback as we figure out the best way to move forward. We’re thankful for their partnership, and for all the businesses, organizations, and academic institutions that are part of the Libra Association.

This is the beginning of an exciting journey and I’m looking forward to sharing more soon.