Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Exclusive: Facebook Grabs Microsoft Global Ad Head Carolyn Everson

Apparently, it’s not only in Google’s pond where Facebook fishes for talent–the social networking giant has recruited Microsoft’s global advertising head Carolyn Everson as one of its top sales execs.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the hiring, after a query this afternoon by BoomTown. Everson will be VP of Global Sales at the Silicon Valley company, although is likely to be located in New York.

The move will surely cause some tensions with the software giant, which is both a prominent partner of and investor in Facebook, especially since Everson was only hired at Microsoft last June after a long search.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg addressed that issue in a statement:

“Microsoft was one of our earliest partners and is still one of our most valued. We have a long and strong relationship that includes search ads on our site, a social layer on Bing search results and a deep and popular integration with Xbox. They are a leader when it comes to unlocking the power of social for their already popular products and services. We look forward to continuing to expand our relationship with them.”

A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment.

Despite the possible awkwardness between Facebook and Microsoft–hey, we stole your top sales exec, but you rock!–the move to Facebook is a big opportunity for Everson.

But, according to sources, the former MTV Networks ad exec had become frustrated by the intense focus on pushing traffic to Microsoft’s Bing search service from its MSN portal at the expense of premium ad sales.

In addition, with the massive search and advertising partnership between Microsoft and Yahoo now in place, Everson was also not able to offer search advertising from Microsoft to marketers in packages. Yahoo is now in charge of that offering.

Everson will essentially be replacing longtime and well-regarded Facebook ad exec Mike Murphy, who left the Palo Alto, Calif., company last fall. She will report to former Googler David Fischer, VP of Advertising and Global Operations.

But it was COO Sheryl Sandberg, said sources, who was most focused on Everson. In fact, she just “friended” Everson on Facebook this week, as did another top ad exec, Tom Arrix.

Having a top exec who is amenable to and well known by Madison Avenue is key for Facebook as it ramps up its business, in anticipation of an IPO next year.

Despite being private, Facebook has recently been valued at between $50 and $60 billion by investors, who have been eagerly buying up shares of the company on secondary markets.

Under Murphy and Fischer, ad sales have been doing well already. Facebook’s share of online display advertising has more than quadrupled, from about three percent to almost 14 percent of the nearly $9 billion U.S. market, according to a recent survey.

In growing so quickly, Facebook has grabbed ad revenue–reportedly $2 billion last year–from old online powerhouses, especially Yahoo and AOL, and is also in a big fight with Google over premium ad sales.

Facebook’s surging usage and engagement are the reasons for the increased interest from advertisers, as well as its global growth in both market share and mindshare of consumers.

Thus, the search for a Murphy replacement was far-ranging, and included interest in a number of prominent ad execs from traditional media giants and also ad agencies.

The appointment is a big move for the dynamic Everson, who has mostly worked in the mainstream media for much of her career.

Everson came to Microsoft from a job as EVP of Strategy and Operations for the MTV Networks U.S. ad sales department.

Interestingly, she was also on the short list of candidates Yahoo was once perusing to fill the key U.S. ad sales job after Joanne Bradford departed for Demand Media.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald