Nick Clegg, president of global affairs at Meta, is moving part-time to London, joining a growing list of the US social media company’s top executives who have moved to the UK for all or a significant part of their time this year.
News of Clegg’s decision to split his schedule between California and the UK came a day later The Financial Times revealed that Adam Mosseri, head of Meta’s Instagram service, is moving to London. Marketing Director Alex Schultz also moved to the UK this year.
Clegg, former leader of the Liberal Democrats and UK Deputy Prime Minister, was promoted by Facebook parent Met six months ago to take responsibility for all of the company’s dealings with governments globally, reporting directly to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The position also put him on the front lines of dealing with the political storms that have occasionally rocked the company, allowing Zuckerberg to escape the limelight and instead focus on an overhaul effort to counter TikTok’s rise and take the lead in building metaverse.
Clegg will split his time between homes in California and London, according to a person close to the situation, and is part of a sea change in Target‘s leadership. In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, Zuckerberg was more forthright than other tech leaders when he said telecommuting would become a permanent part of the company’s business, although just this year a number of top executives have moved their main bases away from Silicon Valley.
Clegg decided to spend more time in the UK and mainland Europe for what friends said were personal reasons, including wanting to be closer to his elderly parents, adding that he saw London as a better location for traveling to Europe and Asia.
After moving to Facebook in 2018, Clegg never hid his lack of affection for California, he tells the FT in an interview last year that he is “a European at heart”. At the time, he said he had not set a deadline for how long he would work in California, but that “his heart belongs 5,000 miles away.”
In response to a question from the FT, Meta said: “The past few years have brought new opportunities around the way we connect and work. We believe that how people work is much more important than where they work from.”
Other top executives who have moved from Meta’s home base in Menlo Park this year include Guy Rosen, chief information security officer, who is now based in Israel, and Naomi Gleit, chief product officer, who is in New York. Javier Olivan, Head of Development, divides his time between California and Spain. Zuckerberg spent much of his time in the early part of the pandemic at his home in Hawaii, where he now splits his time with the company’s headquarters in Silicon Valley.
Facebook’s shift to remote management is unusual even by the standards of the tech industry, which has been the most advanced in experimenting with new forms of work since the start of the pandemic, said Nick Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford University who has studied remote work.
Bloom added that the change in leadership style was easier to pull off at companies like Airbnb that had gone all out. In contrast, he said, telecommuting leaders at companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft face a greater challenge in trying to work in a hybrid way, with many workers still spending some of their time in the office.
Facebook has given its workers a choice between fully remote or hybrid work, where they are encouraged to spend at least half of their time in the office. Clegg manages a global team that works remotely.
Zuckerberg’s experiment in leading Meta through geographically distributed leadership comes as the company is under pressure to execute a difficult transformation. He warned investors last week that the company faces a “difficult” period as it first looks to overhaul its existing services.
“Working entirely remotely could make it difficult to make big changes” at a critical time for the company because “creative and innovative” work is easier in person, Bloom said. However, he said Meta’s top executives are likely to return to headquarters frequently for important meetings, overcoming some of the shortcomings.