TalkingHeadz: Facebook and Meta Have a Presence in Workplace

by Dave Michels

One thing about Ujjwal Singh is he has a Presence. Actually, I am not certain that’s true because I didn’t meet with him over Workplace. We could have though – Workplace from Meta is focused on making the virtual workplace more effective with Remote Presence. Workplace from Meta, previously known as Workplace from Facebook, is a division of Meta that leverages the Facebook app for improved, enterprise-wide communications.

It does this by leveraging one of the most popular apps in the world with an enterprise twist. The result is an enterprise communications and collaboration app that is so likely to be familiar that it doesn’t require training (that’s powerful). It’s often the first enterprise communications app that goes to all front-line employees. Workplace customers are very effective at penetrating all levels of the enterprise (that’s powerful). Most UCC solutions are predominately focused on knowledge workers.

This puts Workplace, and its Head Ujjwal Singh, in an interesting place as the enterprise changes. His customers are big and small, and his tech arsenal is huge. Workplace, Meta, and Facebook have some incredible communications and collaboration technology including voice, video, text, and AR/VR. Zuck thinks the world is going virtual, and Ujjwal shares some similar thoughts about the enterprise.

TalkingHeadz is available on most podcast apps.


Dave Michels 0:12
welcome to Talking Heads, they will be talking with Foosball screen of workplace by Mehta. But before that, Evan, I gotta tell you, you know, I’ve been dealing with the aftermath of this Marshal fire, and I’ve been cleaning up my house so that we could properly D smoke it. And I can’t get over all the format’s of memories in my home

Evan Kirstel 0:35
memories in the corners of our mind.

Dave Michels 0:39
That’s right. It’s amazing to me, first off how much money we have spent our generation, I’ll say that loosely, on things like photo prints, and CDs, I’ve got so many CDs, so many records, so many photo prints, we used to listen, that’s a fortune I spent and all that. But I’m also just amazed at all these different formats. I’m pulling out boxes of floppy disks, which of course, I have no way of reading anymore. I’m pulling up boxes of I got records, I got vinyl records, I got three giant boxes of vinyl records. I got the zip drive, just remember those.

Evan Kirstel 1:16
I remember it all this is a walk down memory lane. But

Dave Michels 1:20
it’s a walk. Yeah. Nice fun there yet,

Evan Kirstel 1:23
this might be a sensitive topic, and I really hate to broach it. But might have been better if the house had just burned down. These memories went up in flames. It

Dave Michels 1:32
is not a question that has it has come up many times. We know a number of people who lost their homes. And they’ve come and we’ve been talking to them. And they say, you know, I think you have a worse than we did. And it’s heartbreaking to hear them say that, of course the thought had crossed my mind. But yeah, I mean, I’ve got my memories, but I got all this stuff. I lost everything in the garage. And I have to say it is a little bit of liberating to know that I don’t have to stored for the garage because all that stuff was destroyed.

Evan Kirstel 2:00
Well, there are there are third parties that will take all of your trek in a box and basically put it in on the cloud, you know all the format’s on. So why don’t you package it up and just ship it off and have them digitize everything, including all the old formats, and just put it on the cloud? It’s a

Dave Michels 2:19
really interesting question. So one of the things that in that we that I had in my very little closet, our boxes and boxes of photos from both of my parents, who are no longer with us. And I’ve been talking to my siblings, I’ve literally got nine boxes of photos from our parents. And it’s like, what do we do with these? It’s like, well, we one option, as you said, is it we can just ship them all off to some company to convert them to digital, they cost about 30 cents of print. So we’re probably talking 1000s of 1000s of dollars. But they still have to be sorted. I mean, prints are a little more precious than JPEGs, where where you might only take one picture at an event of a couple, where today you take like 30 hope hope to get one that’s that’s good. But to send off all these nine boxes, unsorted. Is this extremely expensive. And all it does is mean that all all of my siblings, now we all have to sort it instead of just one of the sorting. So we decided against that

Evan Kirstel 3:16
consider you’re getting a head start because you know, when people live to a ripe old age, let’s say 90s Hopefully hundreds for you. You’re going to look back and no one one’s going to want all your crap. That’s cleaning. No one wants this stuff. People think they The memories are going to last and your grandkids kids will want it.

Dave Michels 3:37
Yeah, there’s certainly that and that’s the premise of that Swedish death cleaning book, whatever what you know that it’s better to do it yourself and leave it to your next generation. The poor that I really wanted to talk about that. Now we’re kind of done with our preamble, but I just can’t get over how quickly tech is changing. I literally got everything just in my home. I’ve got like I said floppies prints, zip drives, CD drives, DVD drives, USB drives, USB sticks, 60 millimeter, eight millimeter films, I’ve got records, I got cassettes, I got videotapes, I got all this stuff. And that’s just like one probably a span of 30 years, maybe a little longer if you throw my parents, but it’s just amazing how these tech phases come and go. And then how do you keep your memories if you want to it’s

Evan Kirstel 4:21
one thing to attending the visiting the Dave Michaels Museum of Art.

Dave Michels 4:29
It’s gonna be quite the archeological dig, I can tell you,

Evan Kirstel 4:32
including fax machines, telephones and various memory devices. But speaking of modern tech, let’s let’s change gears to our guest here. Great talking. It’s

god 4:42
a semi monthly podcast with interviews so the top movers and shakers and enterprise communications and collaboration. Your hosts are Dave Michaels and Evan Kersal, both of which offer extraordinary services including research, analysis and social media marketing. You can find them on Twitter, LinkedIn or at talking That’s points with the Z and Devin Kirsten calm. That’s KR STL.

Dave Michels 5:10
Today we have with us is splendorous. Guest the head of workplace by Mehta, Mr. Uz waltzing Welcome mukamal.

Ujjwal Singh 5:19
Thank you, Dave. Pleasure to be here.

Dave Michels 5:21
Lucilla. You’re our first guest from workplace by meyda, though we did have Julian on back in October 2019. But that was for the different company that was workplace by Facebook. I imagine a few things have changed. During the pandemic, we want to get caught up with you on all that stuff. So, but before we get to workplace, let’s talk a little bit about Google, you were involved in the development of Hangouts, which in my opinion, is one of Google’s greatest products, or was hangouts was recently killed off? What are your thoughts on that? Yeah.

Ujjwal Singh 5:55
So I was involved in Hangouts, I was one of the founding members of the Hangouts team. And yes, it’s a product that’s very close to my heart, for obvious reasons. I think the thing that Google has done is like taking the learnings from hangouts and applied it to a chat and meet and the other products that is now that that functionality now lives in, I think, like the bigger piece there is, Hangouts was built around sort of Google Plus and a social messaging layer. And I think Google’s moved to a world where they’re looking at messaging on multiple fronts like RCS on Android, and then chat and me for both G Suite, sort of enterprise customers, but as well as consumers in Gmail. So I think it’s it’s more a strategy shift from Google. And I think they’ve leveraged a lot of what we did in Hangouts. And we were a bit ahead of our time with Hangouts with having Google voice in their video, group, video, everything all in one app, but I’m still proud of it. And I think Google’s done the right thing, moving it on to other use cases and other products.

Evan Kirstel 7:06
And hangouts started as part of Google Plus another notorious product. I think it was one of the better features of Google Plus now Google Plus and currents and its successor and Hangouts are gone. Does that does that little piece of you die inside? When you hear that? You know,

Ujjwal Singh 7:22
it’s a good question, Evan. I don’t know if it’s a piece of me dies, it’s I you know, I think products evolve. That’s like, we’re in an industry where things change and things evolve. And as I said, a lot of the learnings from Hangouts, and a lot of the things that we worked on, is applied in the current products that Google is shipping. So I think it’s good that the legacy lives on. And I’m very humbled that people actually hundreds of millions of people use Hangouts and loved it. And to this date, I get that from family and friends. And as Dave mentioned, it was one of eight. I thought, you know, again, selfishly, I thought it was one of the standout features of Google Plus as well, myself. So but I think things evolve. And so I, you know, I don’t know if it’s anything where I take it personally, or anything like that.

Evan Kirstel 8:09
Well, that keeps the analyst like day busy. So complicated is good. But at Google, you actually work on in area 120, Google’s incubator, not to be confused with area 51. Did you make UFOs? there as well, or what? What was that?

Ujjwal Singh 8:25
Yeah, so So the naming actually came from Google has this as you know, well known program for doing 20% time. So that that term came from 20% of your time on a project 100% of the time, so it was sort of area 120. From that there wasn’t anything beyond that. It was just a notion of we wanted at the time, folks at Google to be able to say, hey, I have an interesting idea. And we want to give it we want to give you time and space to work on that idea. That’s how a lot of interesting projects that Google started, including Gmail, actually, it started as a 20% project and then became the product it is today. We were trying to codify that in the org, that mentality and that ethos. And that’s that’s all it was.

Dave Michels 9:11
So just a few more questions on Google that we’ll get to what do you want to talk about? Let me ask area 120. Were you involved in any key products that Google’s recently killed?

Ujjwal Singh 9:21
No, not really. I don’t remember actually like that. We were doing a bunch of different projects. There isn’t anything noteworthy that I can recall.

Evan Kirstel 9:31
The other day, Dave, trying to get some some clicks. i

Ujjwal Singh 9:33
Sorry, Dave. I know, I know. You’re trying to get something interesting, but unfortunately, nothing there.

Evan Kirstel 9:40
But let’s talk about the theory of starting projects and killing projects. You know, Google clearly has this innovation, focus and then gets bored and things can die pretty quickly over there. I’m waiting for them to kill off stadia. One of my favorite Google services have a gaming service, but can you play provide some perspective on, you know, the product lifecycle and innovation and ending products for as a former employee,

Ujjwal Singh 10:07
I can’t speak much about Google at this point, like one I’m not there. And things have changed. And I haven’t been there for a number of years. I can’t say broadly, like, I think, in the industry we’re in and in tech in general, I think the that this notion of learning, evolving, iterating learning, you know, moving on to new things, not being afraid of like, throwing away things that aren’t relevant or aren’t working, is, I think, pervasive in our industry. So and that’s an important part of why tech evolves so fast, and like we are getting input like we solve problems so quickly is we are constantly our mindset is around iteration. And I think, to a large part, that’s what we’re doing in Facebook or meta now and and workplace. We can talk more about that as we get into that conversation.

Dave Michels 10:55
Well, let’s let’s do that. Now, let’s get into workplace here. So you’ve had a great run there at workplace you started in 2018. is Head of Product A nice place to start? That’s where we met by the way. And then about a year ago, you became the head of workplace that sounds like a big title, unless they’re just referring to one workplace like, are you in charge of just the Western office in the UK or something? I don’t know. But what is your current role?

Ujjwal Singh 11:20
Yeah, titles aside, titles mostly are meaningless. I really what I do is I support the tech side of all workplaces. So this is product engineering. And then you’re indirectly design research data and analytics. As you mentioned, Julian Julian was the business side he was my counterpart on the business side, he ran the sales and marketing and partnerships side of the world. So that’s sort of what where that title comes from is leading and supporting the all the tech functions for workplace.

Evan Kirstel 11:54
Well, that’s that’s quite a job. I know. Dave is obsessed with titles because he asked me to call him sir. But you know, I always like European businesses like the GM title, but I guess maybe that’s your next role is GM.

Ujjwal Singh 12:06
Well, MATA is a US company. So while the team is all based in London, so maybe that’s why but by the way, I would say sir Evan has a better ring to it than sir Dave. No offense, Dave.

Dave Michels 12:20
I agree. Totally. You’re not the first to say that was terrible. Okay, so help us understand workplace. It’s a difficult product to categorize. It has elements of slack and teams, it has elements of Yammer, from Microsoft it has, it overlaps with products, such as Google workspace, did they really have to change the name to workspace? And that’s really unfortunate workplace very confusing, a little bit of blue. How do you define workplace?

Ujjwal Singh 12:51
It’s a good question. And it’s a complicated, I’m going to give you a complicated answer, because we’re going through a little bit of a transition, as a lot of companies are in this space in the productivity space. So workplace, as you know, started with a thesis that building communities at work was going to be helpful for businesses, it was going to lead to better business outcomes. And by the way, metas vision and mission is around building communities in the world. And workplace is a sort of a subset of that mission, which is our vision, which is, let’s do that for employees at work. And so that’s, that’s the broad vision. Now, that encompasses everything, as you mentioned, everything from being able to connect with people being able to share information widely, being able to engage having an identity on the platform. So like workplace has a notion of profiles, which is really important in which companies use having a notion of groups, posts, which is ability to communicate live chat. So it’s less about like the tools are in service of the mission. So we don’t just like try to build 800 tools, we try to like have tools that ultimately lead to building community within a work environment. And remember, like, a lot of what we do is actually take learnings from the consumer world where we have billions of people using our products, and try to apply that into the work environment. So a lot of what you see within workplace is direct learnings from the consumer world applied directly to a work environment. And obviously, we it’s the learnings that are applied because we still build our software is still something that companies are trust and use, because they own the data. It’s unlike the consumer world in that we have data separation, there’s no ads, the company that uses workplace owns the data, but the learnings, the interaction models, all of that, like carries forward from the consumer world. And that’s one of the strengths of workplace actually and Dave, I think you’ve you’ve talked to us about this before. One of the big strengths is there Zero learning curve on workplace. Once someone first sees workplace, they go, oh yeah, this looks exactly like what I do in the real world, or in the consumer world with my friends and family, whether it’s messaging, whether it’s live, you know, the joke I make is that Nestle CEO uses the same exact tool that Kim Kardashian does, they just happen to be sending a different message. The CEO might be talking about financials and Kim Kardashian may be talking about her latest episode on reality TV, so but the tools are fundamentally the same, the engagement models are fundamentally the same. So I think that’s why you see a broad spectrum of tools. Going back to the transition point, one of the things that we’re starting to see in the world, and we’ve been talking about doing for about a year or so now, is expanding from community to employee experiences. If you were to go poll CEOs, I think there was a latest report that said, over 80% of CEOs think employee experiences is a key initiative for their company. But those same CEOs believe that they’re doing a very poor job of a unified employee experience for their employees, especially when you start to look at like frontline employees versus knowledge workers. And one of the things we think workplaces can do is actually provided a strong platform for those employee experiences. That doesn’t mean we’re going to solve all our all the problems ourselves, we are going to partner with other companies that are also in this space. So last year, we announced that Microsoft Teams integration, we are announcing we just pre announced the WhatsApp integration. So part of the employee experience story is that you’re going to see us focus on integrations a lot more to bring together these different tools to solve a particular employee experience problem

Evan Kirstel 16:48
like that. That’s fascinating. So So speaking of employee experience, and enterprise application, there are a lot of overlaps with existing legacy tools. So how do you maintain partnerships, for example, with a Slack, for example? are you likely to see them as a competitor or a partner or you’re agnostic as far as all the related tools go,

Ujjwal Singh 17:12
I think we look at the internal terminology that we have is better together like we think we can, our focus is to solve the problem for the employee. And we think we could do that better together with Microsoft with Google with Slack. Now, that doesn’t mean we have to work on everything was slack, and everything with Microsoft, and everything with Google, it’s just where coming together actually helps solve a problem and plays into both our strengths. So as an example, I’ll use Microsoft Teams as an example. We have customers, joint customers, for example, like Walmart that are both using teams, and are using workplace in fact, they have a million employees on workplace today. They were asking for us to like work closely with teams. And the two specific things they were looking for is the engagement model on workplace is really strong. People know how to like people know how to comment, people know how to react to things, people know what to do during a live broadcast. For small team productivity, Microsoft Teams is really strong. That’s what Walmart uses Microsoft Teams for. So what we’ve done is we’ve said, in a small team, if you’re using a small Microsoft small teams product, you can still pull in the newsfeed from Workplace into teams. You can still if you’re in a channel in Microsoft Teams, and working with a small group, you can still pull in a specific group and posts from that group that are relevant for you to get your work done in within that group. So what it lets you do is sort of bridge this gap between sync and async. In a powerful way, when you bring these tools together. That’s just one example. We’re exploring for another example. obvious one, and we’ve done this for a while, is integrating with Calendar, Google Calendar and outlook. This is one of the one of the things that I get excited about with workplace from Mehta is we can be the Switzerland of integrations. I can equally work. My workplace works equally well with Google Calendar as it does with Microsoft calendar. We work

Evan Kirstel 19:17
really well together. That’s like, that should be our motto. Have an end date better together?

Ujjwal Singh 19:23
Yeah, that could work. Hashtag better together. There you go.

Dave Michels 19:28
Well, it might be false advertising, but yeah, so. So this is really an interesting area because because you’ve navigated some really interesting partnerships that could be competitors, and you’ve done a pretty good job of that at workplace, zoom and Cisco WebEx come to mind. Initially, it seemed pretty complimentary because they had the meeting rooms, but over the pandemic, workplaces really made some significant improvements to its video capabilities, including adding rooms. I would have thought that this though zoom would be threatened by that, but instead they embrace portal. I’m not quite sure how you’re holding this off. Yeah,

Ujjwal Singh 20:03
there are a couple of things here. One is, as we move forward, and I was just going to finish with the employee experience point, I think devices are going to play a big part in employee experiences. Because devices, especially things like Portal and VR headsets, specifically, like the work rooms experience on the VR headset, it what that’s doing is it’s giving us a new platform to bring disparate experiences from disparate companies together. And that doesn’t mean we can’t have workplace rooms or rooms as part of a solution as part of a first party solution. But we don’t need to have that be the only solution, we can actually be in a world where if a company has a zoom as their primary video conferencing solution, it can still work on portal has team’s integration, it has zooms zoom integration. Last late last year, we announced that Zoom wanted to work with us on work rooms, which is our VR solution for meetings. So what’s happening is, all these companies, all the companies in the productivity space are realizing that to get a true employee experience, to get a meaningful change in employee experience, you have to work together, you have to like work with everyone, what before used to be perceived as competitors, you can still have a center where you are like, that’s your strength, our strength is around people connection, engagement. But we can go ahead and work with other tools. We don’t have to like try to reinvent calendar, we don’t have to reinvent slack, you know, I’m the functionality in Slack. So if a customer has slack, they can use Slack. By the way, if a customer doesn’t have slack, they choose to use work, chat, and work chats integrated as well into the holistic employee experience solution. So I think that’s the key piece, which is, as opposed to sort of forcing a company to like settle on one platform. Because the world’s just way too complicated. We’re sort of saying, Look, we’re going to provide basic things, we will likely provide devices, like VR headsets, like Portal, we are going to provide a base layer of experience on top of it. I for example, identity, potentially, I homescreen experience, and then we’re going to also integrate with sort of best of breed out there.

Evan Kirstel 22:24
So let’s talk about the portal. It’s a fascinating device. Although I haven’t actually used it myself. Julian did suggest you might send one to Dave and me, but that never happened. Intent.

Ujjwal Singh 22:34
I work with Dave podle to like figure that out. I’ll get it to you guys. I think Julian might have been ahead of that curve ahead. We may not have had enough. Now I can gave you guys. I’ll say they

Evan Kirstel 22:46
have it on tape. We have the tape. I’ll give you guys something. But it’s a really feature rich device. It’s an expensive, dedicated video appliance for those not in the know. So How popular is it proving to be in in workspace world?

Ujjwal Singh 23:01
Yeah, it’s at we’re still early. And we’re doing trials like it’s still primarily a we just pre announced the portal for business offering end of last year. Okay, but we’ve already had a ton of workplace customers reach out and said, hey, when can we trial this. We’ve had early interest from lots of different customers. And the use cases are varied. Its people want to give their office workers, especially home office workers, a portal to put in their home office. We’ve had companies that are heavy frontline companies say, hey, we would love to try our portals in the break room for our frontline employees. Because today, our break room has a TV but it’s not an interactive, personalized, dynamic device. We have a whole sort of spectrum of things that we’re really excited about. But read fairly early right now in the process of like learning figuring out how we’re going to deploy what what makes sense, all of those kinds of things.

Dave Michels 23:57
So video was obviously the hero will be of the pandemic. And a lot of you guys companies are talking a lot about video. You guys have made significant improvements in your video capabilities, both in Messenger and WhatsApp and your live solution. My question is, you guys don’t talk about video as much as the other companies. Do you personally talk more about remote presence? Can you elaborate on what you mean by remote presence? And is that just another word for video? Great question remote presence.

Ujjwal Singh 24:30
I think video is a subset of remote presence. And that’s why we talk about it from a remote presence perspective. And as our name metta and as our shift to Metaverse implies we are trying to get people more connected. And a big part of that is presence. Part of the reason we’re excited about things like Portal and VR, is it really dramatically increases the ability of feeling like you’re in the same room as someone and video is our first step in sort of feeling like We’re co located and that we’re having this conversation. We actually think like there are better ways to do it than just video video is just the starting point. workrooms as an example, if you haven’t yet tried workrooms workrooms gives you a real sense of presence. Because even a simple thing like spatial audio, the notion of like, if the three of us were talking in a work rooms room, I would actually be turning my head right and left as depending on where you guys were speaking from. And that dramatically changes the even the video experience. But that’s why we say remote presence. For us, it’s really about finding ways to enable one year remote to increase presence with your other fellow workers. Because we think that leads to better connection and better productivity and wellbeing and all of the other nice outcomes that we believe workplace brings. One of the other examples of this are ambient, like this notion of, I want to know if we were all in the office, if the three of us were in the office together, if you know gave your to walk by, I would know that you were walking by and you might stop and say hello to me, if I if I didn’t have my headphones on and I wasn’t working on something. We want to be able to capture that. Even if Dave you’re at home and I’m in the office, that notion of like ambient presence, or hey, Dave’s getting a coffee in the micro kitchen, I want to be able to have a nice conversation about the weekend while he’s in the Congress, or about the Super Bowl while he’s in the micro kitchen. Even though I may be at home, working from my home office. So it’s things like that, that we is all part of remote presence. And it’s not just video.

Dave Michels 26:41
micro services have a nice buzz to it. I haven’t heard micro kitchen use so much in our podcast, but I think it’s a good upgrade. Logical upgrade, actually,

Evan Kirstel 26:51
you guys are proving very effective getting communications to every employee. I even heard recently Telefonica over 100,000 employees who use workplace that’s, that’s pretty impressive. But I imagine that could also be problematic. You know, when you have so many humans getting together on one platform? How do you give people a voice, but control disruptions or dissenting voices or employees going rogue or inappropriate communications, as humans have been known to do on all platforms?

Ujjwal Singh 27:29
Yeah, we, uh, we provide a set of tools and like companies have to sort of do most of that we are careful about that. We don’t necessarily police, the individual companies data. Now, there are certain things from an integrity standpoint, like bad actors, and all of those kinds of things that we will let companies do. But it’s a tool and a platform. And the companies use that and set policies. They decide like, which groups have admins so to approve posts, they decide what posts have comments enabled, they decide whether everyone has access to commenting or not, or has access to be able to go to live and go do go live or things like that. So we really leave it up to our customers to decide how they’re going to use the tool. Now, having said that, one of the things that we’ve learned and we’ve we’re hearing from our customers, is in today’s world, having employees feel like there’s a sense of belonging, like they belong in a workforce, and that they feel connected and they’re there, they understand what meaning their job has, is a big part of like, what employers are looking for from an employee experience standpoint. And a big part of him belonging is having a voice and his feeling like there’s diversity and inclusion embedded in the like workforce. Our platform we feel allows people allows companies the choice to be able to do that in a controlled by a meaningful way. So you know, I would say we don’t get into some of the problems of like trying to monitor and moderate content, because it’s up to the company to do that. Where it’s not our data, the post and the live content isn’t our data. I don’t know if that answers your question or not.

Evan Kirstel 29:15
Yeah, no, it does totally.

Dave Michels 29:17
So a key benefit and liability to workplace is its closeness to Facebook. And you’ve already you’ve already mentioned that the app is familiar. There’s less training involved. Facebook supports, chat, video, and more. And Facebook already has separate data centers, operates its data centers around the around the globe, but Facebook hasn’t really benefited from virtual reality that much. And when you talk about the next level of remote presence, it sounds like you’re hinting at virtual reality here. So do you think that workplace might lead the way for virtual reality in the metaverse

Ujjwal Singh 29:54
so I think meta is going to lead the way for virtual reality in the metaverse and more workplace will be a big part of that. But I don’t think it’s just going to be workplace I think it’s going to be more broadly the employee experience. As we get to a world where the virtual reality accessibility of virtual reality becomes easier, like headsets become easier to wear for longer periods of time. And they become more powerful, all of those kinds of things. You’re going to see not just work rooms, but a lot of other experiences live in that virtual world. One of the things I would say is one of the principles that drives meta and Metaverse and specifically on workplace is this principle of equity. And when we say equity, it’s really at the like a fairly all encompassing term for us. Equity implies equity of devices, equity across devices, equity, across locations, equity across functions, so not just knowledge workers, but workers that our frontline workers as well, that’s really key part of what we want to do, and equity in terms of location like languages and identity and that kind of thing. So, Dave, to your point, yes, we are going to lead in a virtual reality world and in the metaverse. But we don’t want to just leave there, we know that it’s going to be a gradual move, or people are going to use different sets of devices. And this is why things like Portal and our investments in mobile and web still are really important. Because that equity of devices and equity of access is super important to us going forward for all of Metaverse, not just you know, for workplace.

Evan Kirstel 31:33
Yeah, it’s interesting to think about the CEO of McDonald’s using the same application that the store worker uses. That’s fascinating. I heard you say once that Facebook is workplaces superpower, and everyone has an opinion of Facebook now meta, including opinion of Mark Zuckerberg, are those attitudes or biases, overall, net that helpful or distraction to what you’re trying to do at workplace. I don’t think

Ujjwal Singh 32:01
it’s helpful or distracting, like workplace is a fairly different thing like we, we are pretty clear, both from a branding perspective, like yes, we’re from meta and the superpower part really comes from the fact that we are taking all the learnings that billions of people are using and giving us feedback on constantly and applying that to the world of work. And that’s the superpower is that we have a vast array of learnings and like both from an engagement standpoint, and interaction standpoint, all the way to the actual tools and how well they scale and all of those kinds of things. That’s our superpower. Now, I think Facebook or meta on the consumer side has a bunch of challenges that we’re working through workplace has a different set of challenges that we work through. But I don’t know if there’s a plus or a minus, I think it’s just, you know, every company has their different set of challenges that they’re working through. And for us, I think the meta, or Facebook slash meta, the learnings and the tech stack, and all of those things that we get to leverage is a massive win, like Dave mentioned, how quickly our videos improved. That’s just one of many things that we do. Part of the reason it’s improved is because it’s improved on Messenger and WhatsApp. And we’ve been able to leverage that, instead of having to rebuild that from scratch. Some of the things that you see in life is the same way. All of the things that we do for Kim Kardashian applies to the CEO of Nestle or the CEO of Walmart, all of those kinds of things are where the superpower comment comes from.

Dave Michels 33:38
Now organizationally, met as the parent obviously, then Facebook is one app, you are another app replaces another app. Is WhatsApp, another app, or is that part of Facebook? Or how does that work?

Ujjwal Singh 33:50
It’s all part of meta. Like, they’re just different apps from Instagram, WhatsApp, the Facebook app, workplace, like they’re all just different experiences and apps from meta.

Dave Michels 34:03
We’ve talked a lot about Facebook will be when we talk that much about WhatsApp. But WhatsApp is either you just announced an integration with WhatsApp, as you mentioned earlier. And WhatsApp is used by a lot of businesses, particularly in Europe, there must be a pretty strong integration and partnership there with WhatsApp as well. Yeah, so this is great.

Ujjwal Singh 34:19
Like the WhatsApp piece is really important for us. And, and this goes back to the point that I was making both about equity in terms of like who we serve. We know from data that like lots of workers around the world use WhatsApp for work, and specifically frontline workers. And so part of what the work workplace WhatsApp integration was meant to do that, that we pre announced actually, earlier this year, was to allow workers that are using WhatsApp to be able to get access to relevant information that is in workplace or that people are sharing in workplace and that’s what the integration was. And at the heart of this is, again going back to the employee experience Pease, we want to like to reach workers where they already are. We know workers are already on WhatsApp, we don’t necessarily need them to like, download, install a new tool and learn a new tool just to get relevant information that they need to get their work done. And I think that’s what drove that integration. And it’s that notion of frontline is equally as important as knowledge workers. And a lot of frontline employees are using a particular tool, in this case, WhatsApp, how best can we serve them? Got it.

Evan Kirstel 35:34
So we understand that this point, workplace is not based on the same advertising business model as Facebook slash better, you know, two different platforms, but two different approaches to data privacy, data protection, I’m guessing GDPR. So do those differences create some conflict when it comes to product roadmap or features?

Ujjwal Singh 35:56
No, because it’s somewhat independent, like, again, we tend to, we tend to take most of the learnings and where we can be infrastructure. But our big piece on what’s out workplace is to make sure that we allow for data separation. In this world, like companies on their data. We are not data controllers, we are data processors under the GDPR rules of versus in meta, one year on the consumer surfaces of meta, meta is the data processor and the data controller. So that’s a big difference. But we inherit, or we try to use software that meta is building at the more at the infrastructure and the experience level. And then we have controls in place to make sure that that there’s no data mingling with the rest of the consumer world, by directionally, we don’t want ads to show up in one side, on the workplace side, and we don’t want workplace data that a company is using and creating to show up on the meta side. And that’s, that’s fundamentally what a large part of the org guys is to make sure that separation always exists.

Dave Michels 37:06
Well, so. So we need to wrap up here, just uh, this is this is a tough question. This could be a whole nother podcast, but everyone’s favorite topic is the future of work. It’s a topic that never gets old. How was the pandemic changed the future of work? Yeah, in your opinion,

Ujjwal Singh 37:22
there’s the obvious things of like, people are genuinely looking at remote work and hybrid work as a option like as a long term option for them for their day to day work. I think that’s one obvious one, which by the way, has all sorts of impacts on impact on what kind of tools companies are using to like make sure hybrid work and remote work is actually well supported. Lots of companies are talking about like, hey, X percentage of our employees will be remote or hybrid. There’s a set of tools and a set of services that will need to go along with that. And that’s part of the employee experience point that I made. I think the other piece that’s really interesting is and this came up in what some of the research we recently did, and published, over 50% of the employees and this was specifically around frontline said, they were going to look at the tools and services that were being offered to them as part of the employee experience in deciding where to work next. And I think this is a direct part of like, employees are now choosing not just based on comp or what the job is or location. They’re actually looking at what kind of work environment they’re joining, what kind of support they’re getting from the tools, what will their employee experience be like? I think that’s a pretty fundamental change, as well as part of the future work. And the last thing I’d say in the future of work is, I think devices are going to play a big part in the future of work. So and this is where I believe like things like a portal. We all have home offices, portal and Oculus. Yeah, exactly. Portal and VR headsets eventually. Exactly. Right. But if you think about, like, you have a monitor, you have a keyboard in your home office, I think it’s not too far away, where you’re going to want another device like the portal, which is your gateway into the office when you’re in the home office, as an example. So I think that’s, that’s another exciting part of the future work that it’s, it’s going to have all of these different components in it.

Evan Kirstel 39:25
Fantastic. Well, really great chatting, really enjoyed your insights and thought leadership here. You know, I gotta say Julian lost a lot of his credibility with us early on. He told us that French make the best wine. I mean, what kind of what kind of stuff is was he trying to pull over on us? Before we wrap up? What’s your thoughts on? Yeah, what are your thoughts on this matter?

Ujjwal Singh 39:45
I will say that I am more of a Scotch person than a wine person. So I don’t have a script. But I will also say that my running joke with Julian was every time we close a deal or some launch, I’d say are you celebrate By having California wine, so I’ll leave it at that. And leave it up to your listeners

Evan Kirstel 40:05
fine British wine from Wales. Everyone knows Oh, British wine.

Ujjwal Singh 40:09
There you go. Yeah.

Dave Michels 40:10
Everyone knows the best wine comes from Portugal. So I don’t even know if that’s true. Okay, well, again, thank you very much as well. So fantastic talking to you, and we wish you the best of luck.

Evan Kirstel 40:21
Yeah, thanks again. Thank you, Dave. Thank

Ujjwal Singh 40:22
you, Evan. Great talking to both of you take care.

Evan Kirstel 40:27
Wow, that was quite an insightful conversation with metta. They are the dark horse of enterprise collaboration, they’re going to be a contender. For a lot of the big

Dave Michels 40:37
folks. I would say they are a horse of a different color.

Evan Kirstel 40:42
But they certainly are innovating at scale. So can’t wait to get my hands on a couple of their new devices.

Dave Michels 40:49
You know, I think Facebook sometimes or meta as kind of a secretive organization, there’s so much going on there. But it was it was just so direct and honest with all of his responses. I

Evan Kirstel 40:59
thought it was a really interesting conversation. Yeah, very very on American responses very regular pm so look forward to seeing more.

Dave Michels 41:07
All right, until next episode. You conversation Oh, man I gotta get out. The phone found on your phone. No man knows me.

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