Andrew Bosworth, the veteran Facebook executive, found himself in the headlines in 2018 over some impolitic statements he made in an internal memo leaked to Buzzfeed News. In it, he defended Facebook’s growth-at-all costs management style championed by his boss, Mark Zuckerberg.
“Maybe it costs someone a life by exposing someone to bullies,” Bosworth wrote, dismissing the dark side of Facebook’s mission to connect people online. “Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.”
The good connections that Facebook enables, he said, far outweighs the bad.
On Wednesday, Bosworth was anointed Facebook’s chief technology officer. He’ll replace current CTO Mike Schroepfer, who told Facebook on Monday of his plans to resign in 2022, just days after The Wall Street Journal published an explosive series of articles painting a picture of a company that consistently minimizes its troubles in pursuit of growth.
With Bosworth becoming CTO, Zuckerberg has installed a loyal soldier to oversee his company’s huge data-driven social network that powers a lucrative online ad business. Bosworth will also play a key role in Facebook’s attempts to build a consumer hardware business, expand into virtual reality, improve artificial intelligence, and, presumably, combat misinformation and toxic posts.
As for the explosive comments in 2018, Bosworth disowned them after they became public. He said he never agreed with them and that “The purpose of this post, like many others I have written internally, was to bring to the surface issues I felt deserved more discussion with the broader company.”
Whatever, the case, Bosworth’s style is in sharp contrast to Schroepfer’s, who was known to give emotional media interviews expressing dismay over misinformation and toxic content on Facebook. He also discussed the struggle to create A.I. that could keep up and automatically remove the deluge of offensive posts on Facebook.
In 2019, Schroepfer told Fortune that criticism against Facebook was “warranted” and that he regularly shows new recruits critical news articles to help them understand the “huge responsibility” in working at the company and helping clean it up.
Bosworth joined Facebook in 2006 after working at Microsoft as a software design engineer. In joining Facebook, he reunited with Zuckerberg, who had taken a class in A.I. that Bosworth taught at Harvard University as a teaching assistant.
One of Bosworth’s first roles at Facebook was to help create the company’s core News Feed service. He’s also helped to lead Facebook’s groups, messenger, and video calling units, and was once vice president of the company’s ad operations and business platform.
Since 2017, Bosworth has led Facebook’s virtual reality unit, which works on Oculus virtual reality headsets, the Portal video conferencing device, and new smart glasses, developed in partnership with Ray-Ban. He recently said in a podcast that the ability for people to take photos using glasses will become ubiquitous in the next decade, underscoring the market opportunity Facebook executives foresee for Internet-connected eyewear in the future.
Part of Bosworth’s current work also involves developing augmented reality technology, in which digital imagery is overlayed on the real-world using smartphone cameras or special headsets and glasses. Zuckerberg believes that VR, AR, and other yet-to-be developed technologies will be crucial for Facebook’s plans to develop a so-called metaverse, a futuristic concept involving a completely digital realm in which people can live virtual lives.
The metaverse idea has been popularized in science fiction novels like Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash and some recent video games. Zuckerberg’s metaverse plans would go beyond video games, creating a parallel reality for people to connect, chat, and live in a virtual world that carries Facebook’s branding.
“This is all foundational to our broader efforts helping to build the metaverse, and I’m excited about the future of this work under Boz’s leadership,” Zuckerberg said in his blog post announcing the management change, using Bosworth’s nickname.