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Mark Zuckerberg's Hidden Talent is Firing Talent

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has proved an efficient fire-er of people.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A man who has been down the Facebook path tells us what it's like on an IPO Roadshow. (Published Wednesday, May 9, 2012)

    Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg isn't just a man of hooded sweatshirts, long-term technological vision, and the very real possibility of being worth $25 billion once Facebook goes public.

    Turns out the "boy CEO" also has a little bit of Trump in him.

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    Zuckerberg, 28, helped grow Facebook because of his ability to hire the right people -- and then to pick the right moment to fire those people, according to a profile of the 20-something magnate published in New York Magazine.

    Proof of this knack for management is in Zuckerberg's executive team, which is billed as "pound for pound one of the two strongest management teams in the industry," according to an anonymous source (within the industry) quoted in the magazine. "Mark worked his way through it, position by position."

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    Zuckerberg picked the right time to take on Sean Parker as company president, for example. Parker had been ousted from Napster and from Plaxo, both of which he founded or joined in the very initial stages. In 2004, after Zuckerberg hired him, Parker secured vital capital and also restructured Facebook's ownership situation so that Zuckerberg owned 57 percent of the voting shares, and ergo was untouchable by the board, who might otherwise send him to the fate of other forced-out founders. Parker, too, was forced out after a year when his "party boy" ways were deemed excessive, according to the magazine.

    Zuckerberg then brought on Owen Van Natta, who at 36 was one of the oldest employees at the company. Van Natta expanded the company's workforce from a few dozen to hundreds. He raised the company's revenue from $1 million to $150 million through securing investments and assembling finance and sales teams, the magazine reported. Facebook was big -- too big for Van Natta, more of a startup guy, who was let go in 2008.

    "Basically, there are two ways to build an organization,” a former Facebook employee told the magazine. "You can be really, really good at hiring, or you can be really, really good at firing."

    "We made some hires that weren’t the right ones. And we were pretty good at correcting that quickly. Mark deserves the credit for identifying and following through with that."