Dan Rose Profile picture
18 Feb, 12 tweets, 3 min read
People often ask me to compare working for Bezos vs Zuck. I worked with Mark much more closely for much longer, but I did work directly with Jeff in my last 2 years at Amazon incubating the Kindle. Here are some thoughts on similarities that make them both generational leaders:
Jeff was 30 yrs old when he started Amzn, and he was 35 by the time I joined in '99. Mark started FB at 19 yrs old and was 22 when I joined in '06 (and is now 36!). After I joined FB, I shared with Mark that I thought he most closely resembled Jeff among all the tech founders.
They both lived in the future and saw around corners, always thinking years/decades ahead. And at the same time, they were both obsessive over the tiniest product and design details. They could go from 30,000 feet to 3 feet in a split second.
In the best tech companies, product defines strategy and culture. Jeff and Mark were both product CEOs first and foremost (though Jeff is arguably more commercial). Amazon and Facebook’s products are also an embodiment of Jeff and Mark’s individual personalities and values.
Neither of them would ever dwell on success. Every time I took a hill and looked up to celebrate, Jeff or Mark had already moved on to the next hill. They set unrealistic goals and were insanely intense, disciplined, hard working and hard driving.
At the same time, they each had a great sense of humor (albeit with very different styles). When you're working tirelessly and driving people really hard, it's important to break it up with occasional bouts of levity. I laughed a lot around them.
Both of them engendered profound loyalty from their teams. The senior folks at Amazon & Facebook have been there for a very long time, mostly because they couldn't imagine working for anyone else. When you get to learn from one of the greatest, it's hard to leave.
They were both incredibly deep thinkers and read voraciously. I've participated in small group conversations with each of them (eg on airplanes) lasting hours where they would ask endless questions and have more stamina than anyone else. Great leaders have deep-seated curiosity.
The skill set required to start a company is insanely different than being CEO of a mega corporation. Scaling of this magnitude requires tireless commitment, crazy focus, thick skin, unbridled ambition. You have to be a learning machine, constantly growing and pushing yourself.
Their personalities are obviously quite different. Jeff is gregarious with his big laugh and well-honed stories. Mark is more quiet, gracious, kind; sometimes a bit awkward but always authentic. When Jeff is unhappy he will throw you out of the room; Mark simply ends the meeting.
The cultures they built are also very different. Amzn is more siloed/secretive, while FB is radically open/transparent. There are pros and cons to each (which I will cover in a future post), but culture at both companies runs deep and is rooted in the values of the founder.
I feel fortunate to have worked for two of the greatest founders in history. I sponged knowledge and rode each of their coattails as they built iconic companies. One of things I most enjoy now about being in venture capital is sharing what I learned from Jeff & Mark with others.

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More from @DanRose999

3 Apr
What defines a great company culture? I worked for two iconic companies and founders with nearly polar opposite cultures. Amazon was heads-down, secretive, forthright. Facebook was open, transparent, collaborative. Here's what I learned about culture working for Bezos and Zuck:
Culture implicitly sets expectations for behavior. Strong cultures are well-defined with sharp edges, and well-understood by everyone in the organization top to bottom. Strong founders with unapologetic personalities set the culture early and maintain it as the company scales.
When I joined Amzn in 1999, we had top-secret teams working on new products like Auctions, Toys and Electronics. Before a product launched, the only people in the know were those who needed to know. Everyone else was told to keep their heads down and focus on their own work.
Read 17 tweets
12 Mar
I learned about leadership & scaling from Sheryl Sandberg. My direct manager for 10+ yrs, we spent countless hours together in weekly 1x1s (she attended religiously), meetings, offsites, dinners, travel, etc. Here are some of the most important lessons I took away from Sheryl:
In one of our early M-team offsites, everyone shared their mission in life. Sheryl described her passion for scaling organizations. She was single-mindedly focused on this purpose and loved everything about scaling. It's a huge strength to know what you were put on earth to do.
Sheryl implemented critical systems to help us scale - eg 360 perf reviews, calibrations, promotions, refresh grants, PIPs. She brought structure to our management team and board meetings, hired senior people across the company, and streamlined communications up and down the org.
Read 17 tweets
3 Feb
Andy Jassy launched my career over 20 years ago. Here's what he did and why I will be forever grateful to the new CEO of Amazon:
In my first year of b-school I desperately wanted an internship at Amazon. They weren't recruiting from Michigan so I asked everyone I knew if they had any contacts. My parents' friends' daughter's boyfriend had gone to b-school with Andy Jassy, early marketing manager at Amazon.
I begged for an intro and he connected me to Andy who was gracious but said they were too heads down to think about summer internships. I asked Andy if he would get lunch with me if I showed up to his office in Seattle. He agreed, and I flew to Seattle over Xmas break.
Read 12 tweets
24 Jan
I learned an important lesson in business when I launched a new retail category early in my career at Amazon: Fail Fast! I spent 18 months shipping a product that should have taken a few months, delaying the oppty to learn and adjust to our initial failure. Here's what happened:
I was originally hired at Amazon on the business development team. After a year I got recruited to help ship a new computer store and run merchandising. I jumped at the opportunity to launch a new business and learn new skills. Amzn was great at creating these opportunities.
Two weeks after joining the retail team, I was in a meeting presenting our pro forma P&L for our computer store launch. I was forecasting inventory turns and gross margins. It was exciting to be thrown into the deep end. I felt like I was at a start-up inside of a start-up.
Read 14 tweets
8 Jan
I was at Amzn in 2000 when the internet bubble popped. Capital markets dried up & we were burning $1B/yr. Our biggest expense was datacenter -> expensive Sun servers. We spent a year ripping out Sun & replacing with HP/Linux, which formed the foundation for AWS. The backstory:
My first week at Amzn in '99 I saw McNealy in the elevator on his way to Bezos' office. Sun Microsystems was one of the most valuable companies in the world at that time (peak market cap >$300B). In those days, buying Sun was like buying IBM: "nobody ever got fired for it"
Our motto was "get big fast." Site stability was critical - every second of downtime was lost sales - so we spent big $$ to keep the site up. Sun servers were the most reliable so all internet co's used them back then, even though Sun's proprietary stack was expensive & sticky.
Read 15 tweets
13 Dec 20
I had a December tradition at Facebook of delivering a one-hour "end of year talk" to my org. The topics changed each year but the common thread was a reflection on life and work outside of our day-to-day. Here's a high-level summary of some of the themes I shared in those talks:
One of my favorite books is Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. We all have activities where we are in a flow state. For me it's surfing - when I see a wave on the horizon coming towards me and suddenly I'm lifted up - I'm not thinking of anything else in that moment.
When we close our eyes and imagine our flow state activities, most of us picture things we do in our free time - cooking, rock climbing, music, writing, etc. But when we evaluate our waking time, most hours are spent at work. What would it look like to experience flow at work?
Read 16 tweets

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