Hypergrowth and Hiring

May 22, 2012 by Wally Bock

After the big money comes the big growth, followed very shortly by big hiring problems. That’s what Jena McGregor predicts in her column, “The biggest challenge ahead for Facebook after the IPO.” Here’s the money quote.

“Over the next few years, Facebook will likely be growing its staff exponentially, leaving Zuckerberg to lead both the old-timers and an increasingly larger number of employees who come on post-IPO. This is bound to result in culture clashes between those who remember what the company was like before it got more “corporate” and the newbies who either envy earlier employees’ riches or come in with their own ideas about what a bigger and now public Facebook really needs.”

Right now, I’m betting that the HR people at Facebook are studying what happened at Google. That company went public in 2004 and used the money they raised to grow as fast as possible. Suddenly, a hiring system that was a strength of Google pre-IPO turned into a problem.

Less than a year after the IPO, Sergey Brin told analysts that Google’s rapid expansion was hampered by an inefficient hiring process. To solve the problem, Google hired Laszlo Bock (no relation). Mr. Bock arrived at Google from General Electric in March of 2006. His challenge was to revise talent management at Google so they maintained quality while adding several new people every day.

A newly-public company goes from start-up size to big business size in a matter of months. At Google the number of staff went “from 1,628 at the end of 2003 to 3,021 a year later and 5,680 at the end of 2005”

Facebook faces something similar, but Facebook has an advantage. Sheryl Sandberg went through the hypergrowth at Google. In the process, she demonstrated something special according to a Vogue profile.

“Whether you call it ‘scaling the company’ or ‘managing hypergrowth,’ Sandberg is one of the few executives on Earth with a demonstrated knack for it.”

That’s good news for Facebook because hypergrowth forces dramatic changes throughout a company. Hiring will need to change. So will just about every aspect of talent management and HR. It will be exciting for sure and the future of Facebook depends on how well they it.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

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