Apologies from Tech Leaders This Week

The Wall Street Journal yesterday compiled apologies offered this week from leaders of several tech firms as they announced staffing cuts (“Tech Founders Apologize for Growing Too Fast”).

  • “I got this wrong and I take responsibility for that.” Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook parent Meta Platforms, announcing that it would cut 11,000 workers.
  • “I grew the company size too quickly. I apologize for that.” Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, after its new owner announced a 50% staff cut.
  • “I take responsibility for choosing to grow our team faster. And now I also own the decision…resulting in this layoff.” Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio, announcing a cut of 11% of the company’s workforce.
  • “I’m sorry. That’s the biggest thing. I [screwed] up and should have done better.” Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of troubled crypto exchange FTX, detailing its swift decline. Mr. Bankman-Fried offered another apology as he resigned today.

These apologies meet the basic criteria: acknowledgement of wrongdoing – in this case, errors in judgment – coupled with personal responsibility. To their credit, the apology was followed by a period. If the speaker added more – as Mr. Zuckerberg did –, it sounded more like explanation than excuse, because he led with the apology, followed by a period.

It’s easier for corporations to issue statements in passive voice – “mistakes were made.” To their credit, these leaders spoke in first-person.

Hopefully the full text of each apology also includes an acknowledgement of the harm done – in this case, to employees, many of whom were hired just in the last two years. Ideally, an apology would also include a statement of how the offender intends to fix things, and to avoid similar mistakes in the future.


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