Meta CTO laments lack of focus

Meta CTO laments lack of focus

Meta-CTO Andrew Bosworth, one of Facebook's first employees and a close confidant of Mark Zuckerberg, wants the focus of the old startup days back.

"I probably worked 120 hours per week. I had no hobbies. I ate poorly and gained a lot of weight. I slept with my phone next to my head in case something broke, which happened several times a week," writes Meta CTO Andrew Boswort on his blog.

Doesn't sound great? It wasn't, according to Bosworth, except that "one thing I do look back on fondly was how incredibly focused we were."

Feature overload and lack of efficiency

In the context of product development, Bosworth laments the proliferation of features that serve a niche but "isn’t too hard" to implement. "So we indulge," Bosworth writes.

But if you repeat the process a hundred times, you end up with a cluttered interface, a large team, a slow product, and no clear path forward, Bosworth writes.

Customers who appreciate a niche feature are outraged when it is removed. Employees are upset when attractive company perks disappear.

"But to survive as a company you must be willing to focus and prioritize, because attempting to please everyone has a well-publicized result," Bosworth writes.

The CTO's text may hint at further restructuring and possible layoffs ahead of Meta's upcoming quarterly earnings.


Meta's former VR consultant, John Carmack, also criticized a lack of efficiency and focus. Meta was only "half as effective" as it could be, he said, and was sabotaging itself. He left Meta feeling "wearied of the fight".

Meta may face more changes

Meta makes its money by marketing its social media and messaging platforms. At the same time, with its Metaverse strategy and XR hardware, the company is trying to spin off an entirely new business model that isn't in its DNA. Tech rivals like Google, Microsoft and Apple have little or no skin in the game, making Meta's efforts even more costly.

The advertising business model is weakening in the recession and may have reached its zenith in some areas like Facebook. The metaverse, as the next big growth horizon, is eating into the returns of the advertising business without generating any significant revenue, is in the red. As a result, Meta loses value.

While Meta has achieved respectable successes with XR and outperformed the barely existing competition with Meta Quest 2, it is still uncertain if and when the XR hardware will be suitable for everyday use and interesting for many people. This is still true about eight years (!) after the Oculus deal, the beginning of the Facebook transformation.

Meta will have to continue to change to live up to its dual strategy and maintain the trust of investors and employees. Bosworth makes this clear in his text, which ends with a threat or a promise, depending on where you stand.

"The best time to stop a distraction is before it starts. The second best time is now," Bosworth writes.