Social networking site Facebook has put political veterans in key executive roles and board positions.
According to the Washington Post, it has also quickly built up a powerhouse Washington lobbying operation and established a political action committee to make it easy for employees to donate to candidates.
The paper quoted experts, as saying that Facebook will need those relationships, as it tries to ward off regulations and investigations over its privacy practices — which are among the greatest risks to its unbridled growth.
“They are going all out to hire people who are well-connected and buying the Rolodexes that these people bring from the government,” said Steve Stesney, a product manager at First Street, a software company that provides analysis on politics and lobbying.
He said Facebook is moving more aggressively than other big Silicon Valley companies to embrace corporate America’s traditional approach to Washington.
Facebook has studied mistakes by older rivals, such as Google and Microsoft, and is responding quickly, experts say, by strategically hiring experienced Democratic and Republican operatives.
The company has brought on key operatives from the past three administrations.
Last year it hired Marne Levine, who was chief of staff to Obama’s former chief economic adviser Larry Summers, as head of global public policy in Washington. General counsel Theodore Ullyot was deputy assistant to President George W. Bush. Joe Lockhart, Facebook’s vice president of communications, was President Bill Clinton’s press secretary.
And the most crucial person to Facebook after co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is political veteran Sheryl Sandberg, its chief operating officer, the company said in its filing.
Sandberg, who was Summers’ chief of staff when he served as Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, has increasingly become the “grown-up” face for Facebook, experts say, representing the company at high-powered government and business meetings, such as the World Economic Forum at Davos.
With 845 million users and plans to expand overseas, Facebook said it needs to have experienced political staff to defend itself in front of numerous regulators around the world.