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Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg drops 39 spots on Glassdoor’s top CEO list

JP Mangalindan
Chief Tech Correspondent

Facebook ( FB ) CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s standing with employees is plunging, emloyee reviews from Glassdoor suggest.

Glassdoor, which published its seventh annual “Top CEOs in 2019 — U.S. Large Companies” list on Tuesday evening and awarded VMWare ( VMW ) CEO Pat Gelsinger the No. 1 spot (out of 100), ranked Zuckerberg No. 55 — down 39 spots from No. 16 in 2018 and the largest drop for a returning CEO on Glassdoor’s list. The reasons for the plunge include Facebook’s stressful work culture, a decision-making process slowed down by the company’s large size, and morale affected by user privacy scandals over the last 18 months, according to anonymous Facebook employee reviews posted to the jobs site.

“Zuckerberg dropped 39 spots, which is the most he has ever dropped on our list,” says Amanda Stansell, Senior Economic Research Analyst for Glassdoor. “But we do see some cons that pop up in the reviews. We see mentions of an increasingly hierarchical culture, especially since Facebook is such a large company.”

Since its founding, Facebook has adhered to a “Move fast” philosophy emphasizing speed. (In 2014, the social network changed its famous “Move fast and break things” mantra to “ Move fast with stable infra ,” emphasizing fast innovation but not at the expense of accuracy.) Crawl the more recent Facebook employee reviews on Glassdoor and some reviews complain Facebook has grown so big — it employs over 37,700 people — the social network has become “increasingly difficult for the company to move fast,” one employee wrote in a review posted on Glassdoor in August 2018.

“Due to the recent scandals, the company has become cautious to an extreme, and every privacy decision is taken with painstakingly slow speed because it’s been vetted by layers and layers of people,” another anonymous Facebook employee griped in a Glassdoor review posted this April.

Monetization or privacy?

Since the Cambridge Analytica controversy broke in March 2018, in which it was revealed that voting firm Cambridge Analytica gained access to the information of up to 87 million users without their consent, Facebook has been rocked by back-to-back scandal. Meanwhile, Zuckerberg was thrust into a harsh spotlight as lawmakers questioned Facebook management’s priorities: monetization or users’ privacy? The social network currently anticipates paying a $3 billion to $5 billion Federal Trade Commission fine for its privacy lapses and wrote down $3 billion during its first quarter 2019.

To Zuckerberg’s credit, the Facebook CEO holds an open forum with employees every week when they can ask him anything, Stansell points out. And while Zuckerberg’s rank significantly dropped on Glassdoor’s “Top CEOs in 2019 — U.S. Large Companies,” he certainly didn’t fall off the list entirely.

“Zuckerberg has made himself very accessible to employees so that’s a big pro,” adds Stansell.

Nonetheless, the last year or so has clearly hurt Facebook morale and Zuckerberg’s good standing somewhat as a leader with his employees. Translation: Facebook’s chief executive has some work ahead of him to recoup that good faith.

METHODOLOGY: For Glassdoor’s “Top CEOs in 2019 - U.S. Large Companies” list, which is one of six “Top CEO” lists the jobs site published on Tuesday, Glassdoor used a proprietary algorithm to rank chief executives based on employee reviews posted on Glassdoor between May 2, 2018 and May 1, 2019. For a company to be considered for this particular list, the company had to employ at least 1,000 employees during the May 2, 2018 - May 1, 2019 time frame. Also, at least 100 company reviews must have been posted during the time frame specifically weighing in on two attributes: CEO job performance and the performance of overall senior management.

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