When engineer Pascal Hartig first began recording the Inside Facebook Mobile podcast
as a fun side project in 2018, he wanted to bring listeners behind the scenes at Meta to show them how Engineering teams were tackling complex challenges at scale.
“Before my former colleague Emil and I started the podcast, we saw a gap in the way we talked about the company,” Pascal explains. “Articles are a great way to share technical details, but they didn’t feel very human or capture the unique culture we have here at the company. From the beginning, the podcast has been about answering questions like, ‘What is it like to actually build this?’, ‘Why did the team take that approach?’, and ‘Who came up with that idea, and what were the dynamics around it?’ We’ve been so happy to find that our conversational approach really resonates with people.”
Now a couple of years and more than 100,000 downloads later, Pascal recently joined us on the other side of the interview table to talk about how the podcast—now called the Meta Tech Podcast—has evolved and to share an inside look at what’s next.
Expanding beyond engineering
Though the Meta Tech Podcast began with a series of conversations with engineers, it wasn’t long before Pascal started to hear from people who wanted to learn more about additional parts of the business. “Whether it’s design and product or Reality Labs and AR/VR, there are so many incredible insights we can share—and there’s a real appetite for learning about how teams at Meta are identifying and solving new problems.”
Listener feedback has since become a key source of inspiration for planning and content programming, leading Pascal to seek out a diverse roster of guests across Meta for future episodes. “Listeners can expect to hear from people from all backgrounds who work across organizations, teams and regions,” he says. “We’ll aim to showcase the innovation and culture here, whether it’s examples of how teams move fast to make quick impact or how we all help champion and embrace different perspectives across the company.”
Busting myths, breaking down misconceptions and sharing solutions
All previously recorded episodes of Inside Facebook Mobile are still available, and Pascal says there’s a lot to learn from previous conversations. “Technology changes quickly, but we want our content to be as timeless as possible,” he explains. “For example, I particularly love the conversation
we had with Will Bailey, Engineering Director. He talks about the history of Facebook Home, all the way back to when people had Facebook at the center of their Android phone. He also talked about making the pivot to mobile and the first sort of failed attempt using HTML5. That story was so interesting to me, because it cleared up a lot of misconceptions I had. Talking about misconceptions, failures and how we learn from them to build for the future has become central to conversations we have on the podcast.”
Future guests will also shed light on specific challenges teams are navigating as Meta continues to grow around the world—along with the impact they can make by solving them. Pascal says, “I remember when we talked with
Emma Savastian, an engineer, about bytecode optimization for Android. She shared a standout example of what it’s like to innovate for billions of people, where implementing a very small change can make the difference between whether or not people in developing countries can use an app at all. We’ll also have more conversations like that, where we’ll explain some of the internal challenges that pin technical decisions at our scale.”
How to tune in
“There are very few places and teams in the world that operate at Meta’s scale, solving these types of new challenges at this time,” Pascal says. “If you’re interested in the stories behind how all of this works, we hope you’ll tune in and learn about it.”
Already a listener or have ideas to share? Send your topic suggestions and recommendations for future guests to @MetaTechPod
on Twitter or in an email to TechPodcast@fb.com
Pascal is joined by Akshay and Chris who discuss MSYS, the software that underpins most of the messaging technologies that Meta offers. What started off small is now used by many teams across the company. To learn more about MSYS and its growing scale, tune into episode 44 on your favorite podcast platform.
Cami returns to the Meta Tech Podcast, with now having 18 months of AR/VR experience under her belt. Cami is excited to share what developers can now do on the Meta Quest platform. In this episode, Pascal and Cami discuss new SDKs for motion controls, voice and spatial objects; and for creators without programming experience - there’s Meta Horizon Worlds. Cami, as a developer advocate, shares her expertise whilst being acutely aware of areas that require careful consideration. To find out more from Cami and the exciting updates on Meta Quest, tune into episode 43 of the Meta Tech Podcast.
The approach we take to building the Facebook app is based on three key elements: trust, unification and people. In episode 42, Pascal talks with Maria, director of engineering for product architecture and product excellence. They discuss what it means for a culture that is known for being driven by metrics to become more people-centric.
The second special for Earth Week, Pascal meets with Bilge who works as a research scientist at Meta AI. Her open-source project, Carbon Explorer, evaluates solutions to make data centres operate on 24/7 renewable energy. Tune into episode 41 to learn why this is easier said than done and how engineers can help within their day-to-day work to reduce their carbon footprint.
The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has reiterated that the climate crisis is an all-hands-on-deck situation. We all need to think about the impact our actions have on the planet that provides our life support system. Ramya is a technical program manager on the AI team and analyzes the impact AI has, as it grows superlinearly, on energy use and carbon emissions. Her work on green AI identifies ways for reducing that footprint without limiting the options engineers have for building great products for connecting people.
When Amy joined the Workplace team nearly seven years ago (back then still under the name Facebook for Work), it became clear that it would require a messaging service. While there were already a few options available, none of them were designed to be plugged into a new app. That's when Amy and her team decided to take on white labelling Messenger for iOS to turn it into what would become Workplace Chat.
Tune in to episode 39 to hear Amy and Pascal discuss the challenges of taking a huge app that is under constant development and adding your own functionality into the fold.
Kevin has had an unusual career path that led him to an engineering role at Meta. He first joined the company in a sales role before he moved into a more product-focused position. Working closely with engineers, Kevin decided to pursue a career in software development.
To find out about his career pivot, and which resources were particularly helpful to him, tune in to episode 38 of the Meta Tech Podcast.
On episode 37, we're tackling one of the few remaining big apps we haven't had a guest from until now - Messenger. We welcome Software Engineer Amy Lee to the show to discuss how Messenger for iOS was rewritten as part of Project Lightspeed to make it smaller and faster. Amy was also the first one to prototype with Catalyst and Meta and has some important tips for you on how not to accidentally wipe your Mac while doing so.