Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Facebook Headhunter: The Quest for the Golden Geek!

If Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is serious about finding a true No. 2 to replace outgoing exec Owen Van Natta and more, then BoomTown has certainly at least two cents to add.

So here is our list of ideas, which include a number of women execs, since a list that Facebook has made apparently includes a few women too.

(And we applaud that, especially since, as you can see from this page at the social-networking site, there are none in its current top management.)

But you do have to begin with the menfolk, since the top choice of mine is one.


That would be someone that Facebook has already looked at, former eBay exec Jeff Jordan (pictured here). Jordan and Zuckerberg talked a lot last year, before Jordan headed off to lead OpenTable, the restaurant reservations service.

It would be hard to entice Jordan, a one-time contender for the top spot at eBay (EBAY), to leave OpenTable, given it is IPO-bound in the next year.

But he has the chops operationally, having led eBay’s North American unit and also its PayPal division. In other words, this man can scale.


But so can former Yahoo (YHOO) COO Dan Rosensweig (pictured here), who left the troubled Internet portal in late 2006, just before it started its long and painful descent into Microsoft’s bear-hug bid.

Rosensweig is now a principal and its-man-in-Silicon-Valley for the tony New York investment firm, the Quadrangle Group, so it is unlikely he would move over to Facebook.

More to the point, it also unclear how well his gregarious nature would mesh with Zuckerberg’s less social manner (although we would pay big bucks to see those two interacting on a daily basis). But Rosensweig, for all his joshing, has the leadership skills and deep contacts in the tech community.


And since Zuckerberg feels so comfy with Microsoft (MSFT), why not its savvy Chief Media Officer Joanne Bradford (pictured here). There, she “leads global product and platform development, content and programming, business development, product management, marketing and branded entertainment for MSN.”

Plus, she might not relish the idea of helping overhaul Yahoo, if that deal is struck, and has the ad sales and content experience too. Also, she is tough, but nice about it.


So is a sharp Facebook social-networking competitor, Bebo’s President Joanna Shields (pictured here). Based in London, she has worked at both Google (GOOG) and RealNetworks (RNWK) and has an international exposure Facebook needs.

Plus, she knows how to work with founders (in Bebo’s case, Michael and Xochi Birch) and has a charming, though squarely in-charge, demeanor.

Google, of course, has been a good headhunting ground for Facebook and the search giant has been fending off poaching off its execs by Facebook regularly.

But why not go for the big game, as there is a long list of prospects in the higher managment echelons of Google.

That includes: Tim Armstrong, president, Advertising and Commerce, North America; Marissa Mayer, vice president, Search Products & User Experience; Susan Wojcicki, vice president, Product Management; Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, president, Asia Pacific and Latin America Operations; David Fischer, vice president, Online Sales & Operations; Omid Kordestani, senior vice president, Global Sales & Business Development; Salar Kamangar, vice president, Product Management.

But we’re partial to a pair of hard-charging execs who lead critical nuts-and-bolts operations at Google: Sheryl Sandberg, vice president, Global Online Sales & Operations; and Shona Brown, senior vice president, Business Operations.


Sandberg (pictured here) is responsible for online sales of Google’s ad and publishing products, bringing experience Facebook sorely needs. She is also politically savvy, having been the chief of staff at the Treasury Department in the Clinton administration.


Former McKinsey consultant and author Shona Brown (pictured here) has been running Google’s business operations since 2003 and knows how to push around, oops, work with two headstrong founders at once. Thus, Zuckerberg would be a breeze for the sharply honed Brown.

But let’s not leave out Yahoo. We have but one choice here (and someone who has reportedly been on Facebook’s list too): Hilary Schneider, its EVP, Global Partner Solutions. In other words, the revenue person.


The former Knight-Ridder exec (pictured here) is well liked at Yahoo and is also steeped in the world of media, which is important to Facebook. While probably a keeper for Microsoft, it might not be her first choice to stay after a forced merger.

There are a lot of other choices–in fact, I am completely leaving out the many media execs who might be good, as well as some longtime Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who would get along a lot better with Zuckerberg.

Off the top of my head: former AOL head Jon Miller; former Yahoo execs Ellen Siminoff and Jeff Mallett; CBS dynamo Quincy Smith; former When and Ofoto entrepreneur James Joaquin; Fox Interactive Media’s Peter Levinsohn; and many more.


But why not go for the man who was Zuckerberg before Zuckerberg was cool. Yes, the shiniest of Golden Geeks himself, Marc Andreessen (pictured here on the iconic Time magazine cover in 1996).

I could go on and on about the similarities I find between the two, if you compared today’s Zuckerberg with the Netscape founder in the mid-1990s.

From their arrogant innocence to their visionary qualities to their enfant-terrible charm, it is almost as if they were separated at birth.

But now Andreessen is all grown up and much, much matured from when I covered him. He has become all calm and sage and he even does a very decent blog.

Plus, he has also started and run a number of start-ups after Netscape, giving him deeper managerial experience over the last dozen years.

And, best of all, Andreessen knows the pressure of being the best-thing-since-sliced-bread in the tech sector, and its inevitable downside too.

Overall, a real mentor and partner for Zuckerberg, making a perfect pair of Golden Geeks.

Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus