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This article was published on September 23, 2021

4 ways Facebook’s departing CTO Mike Schroepfer shaped the company

He spent 13 years at the company

4 ways Facebook’s departing CTO Mike Schroepfer shaped the company
Ivan Mehta
Story by

Ivan Mehta

Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh." Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh."

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Today, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer announced that he’s stepping down from the position after spending 13 years at the company. He will transition within the organization to a part-time role by 2022. 

Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, Facebook’s chief of hardware division, will take over Schroepfer‘s position gradually. Here are five noteworthy things you should know about the outgoing CTO.

1. Prestigious work history

Schroepfer joined Facebook in 2008 as the vice president of engineering when the company was expanding its reach in the world. He already had the experience of handling large-scale systems from his previous workplaces.

Before joining the social network, he was the Vice President of Engineering at Mozilla for three years. Schroepfer also worked as a CTO at SUN Microsystems’ data center automation division.

So there was plenty of reason to trust him with scaling and enhancing Facebook’s rapid growth. After five years at the company, he was promoted to the CTO position in 2013.

2. Fixing mobile experience

Initially, Facebook’s experience was centered around its website and HTML5 based mobile experience. After Schroepfer spent a couple of years at the company, he pushed Zuckerberg to fix this experience and focus on developing native apps for mobile.

After becoming the CTO, one of his first actions was to improve the mobile apps.

3. Setting up Facebook’s AI efforts

In 2013, Yann LeCun set up the Facebook AI Research (FAIR) lab to push the company into researching different aspects of artificial intelligence. While the research helped Facebook’s product team a few times, the social network needed to have more AI solutions that could boost the company directly in improving the social network.

So to take that responsibility off LeCun, Schroepfer created a new post for the head of research and applied branches of AI for the company. He helped hire Jerome Pesenti, who is now the VP of AI at the firm.

4. Tearing up after AI failed to deliver

Over the last couple of years, Facebook has relied a lot on AI to weed out toxic content off the platform. But in March 2019, the company failed to remove the video of the Christchurch attacker in a quick manner, and by the time they did, it was all over the internet.

In an interview with the New York Times, Schroepfer teared up and said he wanted to improve the AI so that this won’t happen again: 

We’re working on this right now. It won’t be fixed tomorrow. But I do not want to have this conversation again six months from now. We can do a much, much better job of catching this.

In his going away post, Schroepfer said that he plans to use time from his part-time role for “family and personal philanthropic efforts.” He also mentioned that he’ll still help in recruiting and fostering the firm’s AI efforts.

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