When Facebook reached a billion users in late 2012, a little red book started appearing on the desks of all its employees.
The book is full of inspirational, propaganda-style quotes about Facebook’s history and values. Until very recently, its contents – even its existence – were largely unknown to outsiders.
It was only recently that former Facebook designer Ben Barry, who created it during his time with the company, published a series of scans from the book.
As the company of Facebook grew, we faced a lot of challenges. One of them was explaining our company's mission, history, and culture to new employees. Over the years, a lot of formative company discussions and debates had happened in Facebook Groups, over email, or in person. Those who had been present at the time had context, but for new employees that information was difficult to find, even if you knew what you were looking for. We wanted to try to package a lot of those stories and ideas in one place to give to all employees.
Here’s your dose of weekend inspiration and an inside look into the secret red book that each new employee receives when they join Facebook!
Barry and Everett Katigbak co-founded Facebook’s Analog Research Lab, a print studio that is near Facebook’s original Menlo Park building. In his time at Facebook, Barry was famous for his focus on the company’s brand, even to the point that he was dubbed the company’s “propaganda minister” internally.
According to Fast Company, anyone could use the print lab’s equipment if they wished to create something of their own and the lab was often used to teach other employees about physical print.
The original “little red book” was by Mao Zedong, the founder of Chinese Communist Party, and contained speeches, quotes and writings by him.
While it’s unlikely that Facebook was attempting to invoke Chairman Mao with its version, the text is filled with similarly selective quotations.
This is some way to communicate your culture to new joinees and keep the spark alive. This book got me to like Facebook a little more than before.
Tell us what you thought of the book below in the comments!