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The multitude of reasons Facebook and Instagram execs are relocating to the UK

The news: Instagram head Adam Mosseri and the president of global affairs for Facebook's parent company, Nick Clegg, are relocating to London.

  • The reason for both executives’ moves aren’t exactly the same. Mosseri’s move will happen later this year and will be temporary, according to Meta.
  • Former British politician Clegg will split his time between London and California, where he moved when he joined the company in 2018.

Clegg was elevated to an executive position in March, which will likely involve more travel to Europe and Asia—locations easier to get to from London. Personal reasons also explain the UK native’s return home.

Remote work ascendant: Two and a half years after the start of the pandemic, across Big Tech and corporate America, remote work doesn’t appear to be going away.

  • Mosseri and Clegg aren’t the only two key players at Meta that have made relocation plans lately. Senior information security officer Guy Rosen relocated to Israel and Naomi Gleit, the company's head of product, moved to New York earlier this year.
  • CEO Mark Zuckerberg advocated for flexible work arrangements early in the pandemic, predicting that within 10 years, half of the company's 70,000 workers would be based from home.
  • “The past few years have brought new possibilities around the ways we connect and work,” a company representative told the Financial Times in regards to Clegg’s relocation. “We believe that how people work is far more important than where they work from.”
  • Nearly one in five US adults (19%) work entirely from home, per YouGov; another 31% work from home at least some of the time.

The TikTok problem: The moves signify the UK’s strategic importance to the social media giant and could signal renewed efforts to combat TikTok.

  • Meta said Mosseri would be working with the company's creator team in London, which helps high-profile users monetize their social media activity. The company’s UK-based creator team is a key component in how Instagram counters its surging short-form video competitor.
  • The British parliament shut down its TikTok account, our sister publication Politico reported on Wednesday, after Senior Tory politicians who had been sanctioned by the Chinese government raised concerns about the ByteDance-owned platform’s data security.
  • Our forecast predicts TikTok's UK ad revenues to grow nearly 50% next year to $1.55 billion. Holding back TikTok’s growth in a key market would be invaluable to Meta, which has been struggling of late.

Regulatory concerns: Meta could also be prioritizing relationships with governing bodies in an attempt to stave off regulation in the UK and EU.

  • With a new law called the Online Safety Bill, the government intends to give the media watchdog Ofcom additional authority to regulate Instagram and other social media platforms. Given the departure of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the bill’s been stalled—but the UK remains a critical market nonetheless.
  • Antitrust regulators have pursued challenges to the social giant in both the UK and EU, including investigations into 2018’s “Jedi Blue” deal with Google. The company also received a £1.5 million ($2.1 million) fine from the UK government’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) as part of the investigation into its acquisition of Giphy.
  • “Clegg and Mosseri being closer to Europe, more widely, will be a good thing in trying to curry favor with local governments and legislators,” said principal analyst Bill Fisher.

Why it matters: While it’s possible to read more into Mosseri and Clegg’s moves, they represent a few storylines we’ve been following lately: the rise of remote work, increased competition from TikTok, and regulatory issues that could derail Meta’s strategies on multiple fronts.