Nigerian-American Ime Archibong plays a unique role in Mark Zuckerberg’s world.
For nearly a decade, Zuckerberg has turned to Archibong any time he’s come up with ideas for special projects at Facebook. Archibong is also Zuckerberg’s point person in dealing with third-party developers. Outside of the office, the two executives are running buddies.
While Archibong, 38, has been a critical player at Facebook since joining the company in 2010, his position today is more central than ever. He’s the company’s head of new product experimentation, responsible for helping Facebook find its next big hit. He’s also among the highest-ranking Black executives at the company, and the unofficial leader of the Black employee base at a time when racial tension internally and across the company’s advertiser universe has reached a boiling point.
Archibong, Facebook’s lone Black vice president in charge of a product division, spoke up in June as Black Lives Matter protests captured the nation’s attention. On Facebook’s internal social network, he wrote about his experience as a Black man in America, according to an employee, who asked not to be named because he wasn’t authorized to speak about it publicly. A month earlier, he addressed the killing in Georgia of Ahmaud Arbery, who was followed by a group of white men and gunned down while on a jog.
He loves to run too. He is known to be running buddies with Mark Zuckerberg, who made it one of his New Year’s resolutions in 2016 to run 365 miles that year. Running is a shared hobby that helped Archibong bond with his boss.
Archibong was named head of Facebook’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) division, when the unit was launched a year ago. The group’s task, according to NPE’s website, is to build “new apps focused on giving people entirely new experiences for building community.”
He was part of the team that set the foundation for Internet.org, a Facebook initiative to get people online in emerging markets like Africa. In 2016, he lobbied Zuckerberg to visit the continent to check out the tech landscape.
At Facebook, Archibong is exploring ways to bridge the gap between product development and activism. That involves developing new apps that resonate with consumers while simultaneously turning Facebook into a platform that uses its scale to help pursue equality and fight social injustice.
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