Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Management Shuffle at Facebook

zuckerberg

They are not even public and already the corporate two-step is being danced at Facebook. One thing is clear: Founder Mark Zuckerberg (pictured left) is surely in charge at the hotter-than-Paris-Hilton social-networking site, as evidenced by a recent reshuffling of duties at the private company.

owenvannatta

In the moves, it appears that COO Owen Van Natta (pictured right) has gotten a bit of a demotion, in title at least, moving from his perch in the last two weeks as chief operating officer to chief revenue officer and vice president of operations. It leaves him in charge of large swatches of the company, including technical operations and the ad business, but takes away what many assumed was his No. 2 slot to Zuckerberg.

facebook

The change is so recent that Facebook has yet to update its (relatively informationless related to the company) site page on management, pictured here (but use this link to see better). Van Natta did not return emails asking about the change.

Facebook PR head Brandee Barker said the new job was not a lessening of Van Natta’s duties, but an “expansion of its management team” by the 23-year-old Zuckerberg–who co-founded Facebook and is its CEO–due to the growth.

Now, areas like human resources, customer service, legal, systems (which Van Natta heads) and finance all have different leaders, as the company moves to professionalize its management ranks.

Previously, Van Natta, the former vice president of worldwide business and corporate development at Amazon and the founder and vice president of its A9.com, was responsible for the business, operational and financial strategy for the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook.

Van Natta now shares power–how uneasily it remains to be seen–with newly installed Vice President of Marketing and Operations Chamath Palihapitiya, a former AOL exec; longtime exec Matt Cohler, vice president of strategy and business operations (and a LinkedIn co-founder); newly installed CFO Gideon Yu (a former Yahoo and YouTube exec who replaced the quickly departing Mike Sheridan); co-founder and Vice President of Product Engineering Dustin Moskovitz; and CTO Adam D’Angelo.

(Here’s an updated post that shows all of these guys in living color, with bios and my running commentary–a kind of Facebook of Facebook management!)

In addition, hotshot techies Blake Ross and Joe Hewitt, the co-founders of open-source Web browser Mozilla Firefox, now reside at Facebook after it acquired their Parakey start-up.

The company has been on a hype upswing of late, as speculation about its IPO plans or multibillion-dollar acquisition possibilities swirl around it.

I wish I could say this is a good thing, but anyone who has been through the hot-and-then-not cycles of start-ups can only worry for Facebook. Make no mistake, though: Its growth to upward of 30 million registered users and the improvements in its service by opening up its platform to third-party developers are both promising moves on its road to building a sustainable and highly profitable business.

Facebook is reportedly profitable, with about $150 million in annual revenue, with about half coming through a sweetheart ad deal with software giant Microsoft.

Here is a video I did on a recent visit I made to Facebook HQ, where Van Natta appears (he’s the one teasingly calling me a “nasty woman”):


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik