Nick Clegg, the president of global affairs at Facebook’s parent company, is partly relocating to London as he joins senior colleagues in moving to the UK capital.
The former Liberal Democrat leader will divide his time between California, where he lives currently, and London. Clegg’s new executive role at Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta will require more travelling and it is understood that Clegg sees London as a suitable base for visiting Europe and Asia.
The Financial Times, which first reported the move, said Clegg wanted to spend more time in the UK and continental Europe for personal reasons, including wanting to be closer to his elderly parents.
Clegg joined Meta in 2018 and moved with his family to California, but had been clear that he wanted to return to Europe at some point, telling the FT last year that his “heart belongs massively 5,000 miles away”.
Clegg’s wife, Miriam González Durántez, a senior international trade lawyer, has also referred to missing Europe in her Instagram posts, stating last year that she felt like “kissing the ground” after returning to her native Spain for the first time in 18 months.
Clegg was promoted from his former role as vice-president of global affairs and communications in February. At the time, Zuckerberg said the role would put Clegg “at the level” of himself and Sheryl Sandberg, who has since announced she is stepping down as the company’s chief operating officer.
Before his promotion, Clegg played a prominent role in addressing revelations last year from the whistleblower Frances Haugen, who accused Facebook’s owner of putting “astronomical profits before people”, harming children and destabilising democracies.
Clegg denied Haugen’s claim, based on internal documents, that Facebook promoted divisive content, saying advertisers would shun a company that promoted such material. Speaking at a conference in November, he added that Facebook’s content was largely “babies, barbecues and barmitzvahs”, although documents disclosed by Haugen showed that researchers warned of “piecemeal” attempts to stop the spreading of falsehoods about the 2020 US presidential election.
Clegg has also taken on a prominent role in explaining Meta’s shift to focusing on the metaverse, the concept of virtual space where digital representations of people – avatars – interact at work and play, including announcing the establishment of a $50m (£41m) investment programme to ensure the metaverse is built “responsibly”.
Meta faces a number of regulatory challenges in Europe, with government relations and policy firmly part of Clegg’s remit. The UK government is preparing to introduce a sweeping online safety bill while the EU is adopting tough regulation in the shape of the digital services act and the digital markets act.
Clegg’s decision comes as the head of Meta’s Instagram platform also prepares to move to London. Adam Mosseri is temporarily relocating to the UK, where Meta employs 4,000 people across London, including a new office in the King’s Cross area. Meta’s chief marketing officer, Alex Schultz, has also relocated to the UK.
Other executives have loosened their physical ties with Meta’s Menlo Park headquarters in California. In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that Naomi Gleit, Meta’s head of product, had moved to New York and that its chief information security officer, Guy Rosen, was moving to Israel.
Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s founder and chief executive, was a prominent backer of flexible working during the coronavirus pandemic, saying that half of the company’s 70,000 employees could be working from home within a decade.
Meta declined to comment on the Clegg story. In a statement, the company said: “The past few years have brought new possibilities around the ways we connect and work. We believe that how people work is far more important than where they work from.”