Which is the better-run company, Facebook or Apple?

Which is the better-run company, Facebook or Apple?

I was fortunate to have worked at both Apple (2 years interning, less than 1 year full-time) and Facebook (almost 1 year now) as a software engineer.

Both companies are extremely well-run and very successful at building amazing products for millions of users. Both have incredibly smart, talented, and passionate employees who absolutely love working there. Both have revolutionary leaders and senior execs that constantly push the boundaries. And, both make products users go crazy over.

As an employee, the biggest difference between the two is internal communication: Apple is very secretive to its own employees, while Facebook trusts its employees enough to communicate openly with them.

At Apple, I worked on an internal Mac OS crash aggregation and reporting website, and got minimal visibility on the company’s product plans. Everything is “Need to Know Confidential”. If you didn’t need to know it to get your job done, well, you wouldn’t find out. The teams in my department didn’t see new Lion features until the day Steve announced it on stage, even though we’d been living on and testing new builds daily, and never got to see new hardware. You had to pass through badged door after badged door to get anywhere. You couldn’t get into most parts of campus. I was not allowed in the iOS areas, even though people from iOS teams could come by the Mac OS areas. We all worked in offices, sometimes shared with one or two other people, so we didn’t end up socializing too much. In all my time there, I saw Steve Jobs just a handful of times, but only heard him speak just once to interns. Apple felt very closed to its own employees and I felt like I was just another cog in the machine.

At Facebook, I’m a UI Engineer working on Timeline. In terms of internal communication, Facebook is the complete opposite of Apple, and it’s really a breath of fresh air. As an employee at Facebook, you have very good visibility into the company’s plans and are constantly informed about what’s going on across the company. Everyone sits in open areas, which works wonders for collaborating, brainstorming, and socializing. Your coworkers are your friends and family. Mark Zuckerberg answers any questions from employees at the weekly Q&A on Fridays. At Facebook, I feel like I’m truly part of the company.

It’s hard to say which company is better run. But, in terms of employee morale, it’s pretty clear Facebook beats Apple here.

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