Facebook hires Nick Clegg to run global lobbying and communications
The former deputy PM is making a suprise return to the world of corporate communcations and public affairs.
Facebook has recruited Nick Clegg to oversee its lobbying and communications as head of global affairs.
The former deputy prime minister will move to Silicon Valley in January to succeed Elliot Schrage, the Financial Times has reported. The FT added that Clegg agreed to take on the job “after months of wooing by Mark Zuckerberg” who told Clegg that he would have “a leading role in shaping the company’s strategy”.
Confirming the news on Facebook, Clegg called it an "exciting new adventure". He added that he would be "working with people, organizations, governments and regulators around the world to ensure that technology is a force for good".
The surprise hire comes after Facebook’s two top policy and communications executives, Schrage and Rachel Whetstone, left the company this summer. With Clegg’s background as a former European Commission trade negotiator and member of the European Parliament, the hire suggests a that Facebook plans to put a greater emphasis on tacking the regulatory challenges it faces in Brussels.
Clegg is not the first Liberal Democrat operator to take a senior role at Facebook, which already employs Lib Dem peer Richard Allan as its public policy chief for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
It will also not be the first time that Clegg has set foot in the world of lobbying. Before becoming Lib Dem leader and promising to clean up lobbying and offer the British people a “new, different politics”, Clegg spent almost a year as a partner for European lobbying firm GPlus.
In a 2004 press release heralding his arrival at GPlus, he stated: “It’s especially exciting to be joining GPlus at a time when Brussels is moving more and more to the centre of business concerns. With the EU taking in ten more countries and adopting a new Constitution, organisations need more than ever intelligent professional help in engaging with the EU institutions.”
Confirming the new job, Clegg stated: "I am delighted to be joining Facebook. After almost twenty years in European and British politics, this is an exciting new adventure for me. Having spoken at length to Mark and Sheryl over the last few months, I have been struck by their recognition that the company is on a journey which brings new responsibilities not only to the users of Facebook’s apps but to society at large. I hope I will be able to play a role in helping to navigate that journey.
"Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger, Oculus and Instagram are at the heart of so many people’s everyday lives – but also at the heart of some of the most complex and difficult questions we face as a society: the privacy of the individual; the integrity of our democratic process; the tensions between local cultures and the global internet; the balance between free speech and prohibited content; the power and concerns around artificial intelligence; and the wellbeing of our children.
"I believe that Facebook must continue to play a role in finding answers to those questions – not by acting alone in Silicon Valley, but by working with people, organizations, governments and regulators around the world to ensure that technology is a force for good.
"I am looking forward to being part of this endeavour. Throughout my public life I have relished grappling with difficult and controversial issues and seeking to communicate them to others. I hope to use some of those skills in my new role.
"As someone who has spent a lifetime arguing for Britain’s wholehearted commitment to Europe, it is of course a wrench to be leaving the public debate at a crucial time in the Brexit process. But the key decisions will soon pass to Parliament, of which I am no longer a Member, and once I had decided to take up this unique new challenge at Facebook, I felt it was best to get going sooner rather than later.
"Miriam and I have been so grateful for the warm welcome extended to us by everyone we have met at Menlo Park. Moving to California is a new beginning for us – and for our three sons – which we are looking forward to with great excitement and anticipation."