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Rob Leathern: CEO at Facebook's ad platform "This is my job"

It’s not uncommon for someone to walk into the CEO’s office and ask to be fired. Maybe it’s because you can see they don’t have your company...

Rob Leathern
It’s not uncommon for someone to walk into the CEO’s office and ask to be fired. Maybe it’s because you can see they don’t have your company’s best interests at heart, or maybe you think they just aren’t cut out for the job and are afraid to tell them that. Either way, it’ll probably be the most awkward five minutes of your life. This scenario might seem like a distant fantasy for most people, but for Rob Leathern, it was his everyday reality as one of Facebook’s first employees and its first chief advertising officer. If you haven’t heard of Rob yet, you will soon because he recently left Facebook and is now the CEO at another tech giant: Snap Inc. (formerly Snapchat). Here he shares how he went from being fired by Mark Zuckerberg to becoming friends with him and his wife Priscilla once again:

Mark Zuckerberg Fires Rob


As mentioned, it’s not uncommon for CEOs to fire their employees. But it’s uncommon for them to then rehire those same employees for a higher position. This is exactly what Mark Zuckerberg did to Rob. Rob was Facebook’s first chief advertising officer – and Mark fired him. Not because he wasn’t doing a good job. But because he was doing a great job. Mark was suspicious of how quickly Rob was growing the ad business and was afraid that it was too fast and would scare the company’s users and shareholders. So he fired Rob, essentially putting him in a timeout so he could get a better understanding of the business and how it works. After a few months, Mark realized that he made a mistake firing Rob and rehired him as the product manager of ads – a position that gave Rob more power and control over the ad business.


Facebook’s First Chief Advertising Officer


After Rob was rehired, he worked closely with Mark to grow the ad business at Facebook. But eventually he wanted more responsibility and a bigger role in the company. He told Mark that he wanted to be promoted to the COO position – but Mark told him he wasn’t ready for that promotion. Mark told Rob that he wasn’t ready for it because he didn’t want to lose him. He saw how important Rob was to the company and the future of the business. But that wasn’t enough for Rob. He knew that he wanted to be a CEO one day. So he told Mark that he was going to leave Facebook to explore other opportunities and find a CEO role elsewhere. Mark was obviously disappointed but wished him the best in his future endeavors.


Becoming CEO of Snap Inc.


After leaving Facebook, Rob joined the board of Hotels.com and helped them grow their business. He also invested in a few tech companies. He said that he was focusing on growing these companies and learning more about the different aspects of the tech industry. Fast forward a few years and Rob got a call from a friend at the Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator. He was trying to find a CEO for a new company they had invested in called Snap Inc. Rob had no idea what Snap was and didn’t even know that they had acquired this company. His friend told him that Snap was originally called “Snapchat” and that they were trying to re-launch the app as a serious company. He asked Rob if he would be interested in talking to them about the CEO position. Rob wasn’t even aware of the app, let alone the fact that Mark Zuckerberg owned the company. Unlike Facebook, which is used globally, Snap is only really popular in the U.S. So Rob had no idea what he was getting himself into. He met with the founder of the company and a board member of the incubator and they pitched him on the idea. Rob was interested in the app but was a little skeptical because he had no idea who the company was or what they did.


The Importance Of Being A Good Culture Fit


After thinking about it, Rob decided to take the job. He saw a real opportunity to grow the business and become a top-level tech company like Facebook. At the time, no one had heard of Snap Inc., so it was the perfect opportunity for him to start fresh with a clean slate. But before he could say yes, he had to make sure that the company and its culture were a good fit for him. He said that he wanted to make sure that he’s being himself and that he isn’t trying to be something that he isn’t. He wanted to make sure that he is authentic and that the company’s culture and employees are also authentic. He didn’t want to take the job unless he could be himself.


Wrapping up


If you’re applying to be the CEO of a company, make sure you’re being yourself and that you’re a good culture fit. If you’re not a good fit for the company, they’ll quickly realize that and move on to hire someone else. Keep in mind that you’re not just interviewing for the job – the company is also interviewing you to see if you’re a good culture fit. If you can’t find a way to make both sides happy, you won’t be taking the job.


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