Mark Zuckerberg says Meta employees refer to him as the ‘Eye of Sauron,’ but thinks the nickname comes from a place of love

April 7, 2022, 11:00 AM UTC

Facebook founder and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has always had an interesting leadership style. From offering 17-year-old interns $6,000-a-month salaries to organizing and attending annual “Faceversaries” to celebrate employee work anniversaries, Zuckerberg has earned a reputation as an eclectic and passionate boss.

And it seems that Zuckerberg’s employees—his Metamates, as he likes to call them—have come up with a nickname that reflects their boss’s occasional intensity.

“Some of the folks who I work with at the company—they say this lovingly, but I think they sometimes refer to my attention as the Eye of Sauron,” Zuckerberg told podcast host Tim Ferriss during a rare interview in March.

In the Lord of the Rings franchise, the Eye of Sauron is an omniscient, fiery eye belonging to the story’s main villain, Sauron. In the popular films, the giant orb blazes from its vantage point on top of the highest tower in Middle-earth and casts its watchful eye over Sauron’s domain. But, as a fan website says, when the Eye of Sauron chooses to focus on a particular subject, “few could endure its terrible gaze.”

Zuckerberg explained that when at work, he tends to direct his energy toward one area and nothing else, which may explain the intensity some of his employees feel when they fall under his attention—and the consequential sobriquet. 

Although Zuckerberg assured Ferriss that the moniker is used as a term of endearment, rather than as a reference to Sauron’s role as a permanent malignant presence keeping a watchful eye over Middle-earth, the CEO did acknowledge that focusing fully on one thing or idea does not always lead to the best results.

“You have this unending amount of energy to go work on something,” he said, describing his own work ethic. “And if you point that at any given team, you will just burn them.”

Zuckerberg said that a goal for himself is to “diffuse” his energy so that he does not focus on any one person or team, but rather can think about the right things for the right length of time. He did, however, say that it is a thin line to tread, as ideas are best acted on in the moment.

“Getting that balance right is an important thing for the sustainability of the organization,” Zuckerberg said.

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