I need to share some news with you. I met with the Board last night and we’ve decided that we need to make a change.
Mark, we’re terminating your employment effective immediately.
I see that you’re disappointed to hear this, and justifiably so. It’s clear that our business relationship has been very good for you. But the fact is that you just aren’t very good at the job that I hired you to do.
You see, Mark, I hired you back in 2007 to do something special: Your job was to help me stay connected with my friends.
To your credit, you really impressed me at first. I was reconnecting with people who I hadn’t seen in many years. It was great to hear about their lives and see pictures of their kids. I even started connecting with people who I regularly saw in real life. It was fun when they commented on a picture of my family or “Liked” a link I posted. I found your service especially useful when I relocated to distant cities a couple of times for new jobs. I felt like I stayed connected, even just a little bit, with good friends and colleagues who I left behind.
Of course, there were a few things that I found disturbing about your work from the outset. I could moralize about the countless hours you’ve enabled people to waste tending to their virtual crops and mafias while most of the real world is mired in a recession. I could bemoan that you’ve reduced interpersonal communication to nothing but a laconic Like. And I could point out that so many of your users seem to cluster into rather homogeneous echo chambers of political discourse as they “Unsubscribe” from any opposing opinion.
No, I noticed these quirks early on and have managed to work around them. None of them are the reason why you are losing your job.
Do you know what it was, Mark? Do you know what pushed me over the edge? You started interjecting yourself into my friendships.
You — who could not serve up a single relevant ad in the five years we’ve worked together in spite of knowing nearly every relevant detail about me — thought you would apply that same ineptitude to my news feed. You couldn’t seem to figure out that I already have a wife and an MBA, that I have changed jobs twice since Microsoft, and that if I haven’t wanted a pair of Bonobos for the past four years, I’m not likely to want them today. How are you qualified to choose what appears in my news feed?
In former times I simply chose to deal with this unfettered hubris of yours. I spent hours trying to train your creation to show me the stories I wanted to see. I changed feed settings. I made more liberal use of the Like button. I even gave feedback on the ads you showed me. (Do you realize that process takes three clicks? Three!) After much effort, it slowly became somewhat tolerable to use your service again.
And then, for reasons unknown to me, you tried to apply your distinctive incompetence to the way I organize my own content. Yes, you do know what I’m talking about, Mark.
You foisted Timeline upon us.
My initial reaction to that bastard child of user interaction design can only be described as emetic. Being wary of change in light of your mercurial track record, I dealt with Timeline by refusing to opt in, silently snickering whenever one of my friends cursed it in a post.
That is, until I logged in the other day and you informed me that I will be forced to use Timeline starting August 19th.
I was incensed. Do you know what I did, Mark? I sat down for an hour and painstakingly deleted all of the content on my Timeline. All of it. Every last photo, video, wall post, and check-in. And do you know what happened when I was finished? More of my content appeared! Things that had not been visible when I began the Great Purge of 2012 popped up on my Timeline. “Oh yes,” I thought. “I do remember writing that.” Delete. “What? More?!” Repeat.
That’s right, Mark. You can’t deny it. You went so far as to appoint yourself as editor of my own content! Nobody gets between me and my content. Nobody! You crossed a line that never should have been crossed, and that is why you’re losing your job.
It would be inappropriate for me to speculate about what caused you to become so disconnected from the job I hired you to do. And in the end, it doesn’t really matter to me. I have a job that needs to be done, and you’re not doing it. I’m going to hire others who will.
This isn’t to say that I harbor any ill feelings toward you personally. I just think you have some things you need to learn before you’re in a position to work for me again. I should add that the Chairwoman was never on board with me hiring you in the first place. I personally stuck my neck out for you, and your poor performance has cost me some political capital. If you hope to have your job back at some point in the future, you’ll have to work hard to get her to champion your cause.
In the meantime, I suggest you contact your broker and arrange to sell some more of your equity stake. I imagine there are a few poeple out there who have not used Timeline and are still willing to buy the shares.