Facebook Raids Google for Executive

By Michael Liedtke
Associated Press
Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Facebook raided Google to hire a 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.

Recruiting Sheryl Sandberg is a coup for Facebook. 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 Google.org, the Mountain View, Calif. company's philanthropic unit.

Sandberg was the Treasury Department's chief of staff during the Clinton administration.

With Sandberg's hiring, Facebook fills a void created last summer when it moved 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 be a mentor for the Palo Alto, Calif. company's 23-year-old founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg.

Sandberg said in an interview that she is just one of several veteran executives who can be sounding boards for Zuckerberg. She also referred to Gideon Yu, who became Facebook's chief financial officer in July after stints with Yahoo, YouTube and a venture capital firm.

"Mark is inspiring," Sandberg said. "He has more clarity and vision than just about anyone I ever met."

Sandberg's departure from Google comes as investors fear that advertising sales are bound to slow with the U.S. economy. Google's market value has fallen 35 percent this year. Google shares fell $12.42 yesterday, to $444.60.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company