Thursday, March 6

Google loses top exec to Facebook

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook Inc has raided Google Inc to hire a new chief operating officer, providing the popular online social network with more seasoned management and advertising savvy as it strives to make more money without alienating its audience. Sheryl Sandberg's defection from Google, announced Tuesday, represents a coup for Facebook just three months after it suffered a humiliating setback in its effort to inject more commercialism into its fun-loving website. As Google's vice president of global online sales and operations for the past six years, Sandberg helped build the Internet search leader into one of the world's most prized companies. She also helped set up, the Mountain View-based company's philanthropic arm. Before joining Google, she served as the US Treasury Department's chief of staff during the Clinton administration. With Sandberg's hiring, effective March 24, Facebook fills a void created last summer when it reassigned its previous chief operating officer, Owen Van Natta, to chief revenue officer. Van Natta left Facebook last month. Besides helping steer Facebook's expansion, Sandberg, 38, could serve as a mentor for the Palo Alto-based company's 23-year-old founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, to whom she will report directly. Sandberg said in an interview that she is just one of several veteran executives who can act as a sounding board for Zuckerberg. She also pointed to Gideon Yu, who became Facebook's chief financial officer in July last year after stints with Yahoo Inc, Google's YouTube and a venture capital firm. "Mark is inspiring," Sandberg said. "He has more clarity and vision than just about anyone I ever met." In an interview, Zuckerberg said he is counting on Sandberg to minimize Facebook's growth pains. "Anyone who has ever worked with her raves about how she helped make them better managers," he said. "She has a terrific track record." Sandberg's departure from Google comes amid widening fears on Wall Street that the advertising sales propelling Google's growth are bound to slow as the US economy flirts with a recession. Worries about a general economic slowdown are the main reason Google's market value has plunged about 35 per cent, or $75 billion, already this year. Google shares dropped to a new 52-week low of $435.78 Tuesday before bouncing back to close at $444.60, down $12.42.


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