Liz Gannes and Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

The Furious Five of Facebook? Meet Its New Product Princes and Their Domains.

Facebook confirmed our report that it has reorganized its technical teams around key product areas, naming Bret Taylor, Chris Cox, Greg Badros, Mike Schroepfer and Sam Lessin as leaders of product groups reporting to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

So who are these newly elevated execs and what are the details of their new roles?

Sources said the company is still figuring out what to officially do about shuffling the five mens’ titles. Currently, its public-facing management page remains unchanged and a press release is nowhere to be found.

Facebook seems to be trying to get the most out of every last second it has as a private company, not revealing important bits of information. That includes which person is assigned to which product area, and even what those product areas are.

If Facebook PR wants to get all cryptic about it, that won’t stop! (We’re like the War Operations Plan Response (W.O.P.R.) computer in “WarGames” — soon we’ll have all the launch code numbers and let loose the missiles.)

Before that, the first and most important thing to remember is that CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg remains the king of product power at Facebook. It all rolls up to him, seated at the dead center around which all these new spokes turn.

Of the new arrangement, what’s also key to keep in mind, as one source aptly describes it, is that this is a “verticalization” of Facebook, which had largely been horizontal before, with top execs covering a wider range of areas.

Now, it is more siloed and — presumably — more nimble, with more powerful lords of product areas in charge.

That’s a lot like the management rejiggering Google has done recently under its aggressive new CEO and co-founder Larry Page, although Facebook’s slicing and dicing seems to be more a matter of addressing internal growth and making the organization more functional.

Here’s the rundown that we have pieced together so far:

Privacy and Identity — a critical area for Facebook, since it seems to have an ongoing issue with it (or lack thereof) — will go to Lessin.

Communications and Apps — the real guts of the product — will get the leadership of Cox.

Infrastructure — the nuts and bolts of keeping the global megopolis of Facebook humming — will be the purview of Schroepfer.

Mobile and Platform — the big forward-looking areas — will be run by Taylor.

And Monetization — which includes advertising products and will pay for this whole shebang — will come under the sway of Badros.

But, until all is revealed by the social networking giant, here are some details of the newly named product potentates of Facebook — all men, it should be noted — you might want to know about:

Bret Taylor: As was previously reported here, Taylor is currently leading Facebook’s “Buffy” phone project, which is its HTML5-oriented smartphone effort.

Taylor was named Facebook CTO in June 2010 and has historically had no direct reports. His projects at Facebook have included platform, search, News Feed and mobile.

Taylor is a consistent presence at Facebook’s big public events. Even though he presents about technical stuff, his delivery is considered by many observers inside and outside the company as much smoother than his often awkward boss, CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Prior to Facebook, Taylor co-founded FriendFeed, a geeky social app aggregator bought by Facebook; the app’s influence is seen in many of Facebook’s social products today. Prior to that, while at Google he helped create Google Maps.

Taylor has a young family and is a really big Stanford football fan.

Chris Cox: Chris Cox is Facebook’s well-liked product head and the company’s only real home-grown management star. He joined Facebook in 2005, shortly after graduating from Stanford, and has worked on products such as News Feed early on in their gestation. At one point as a young staffer, he was promoted to be in charge of Facebook’s human resources and helped set a tone for the company’s culture.

Cox often appears at Facebook events to talk about the human impact of Facebook’s products, and the merits of “social design.”

The charismatic exec got married this year and has played in a reggae band.

Greg Badros: Outsiders have been less familiar with Greg Badros. Badros had been in charge of advertising engineering at Facebook for the past two years.

Prior to joining Facebook in June 2009, Badros worked at Google for six years, where he was particularly instrumental on its well-known AdSense and Gmail products.

“Star” is the word multiple of Badros’s acquaintances and former colleagues used to describe him.

Badros is technical, entrepreneurial, articulate and humble, said former Keval Desai, his Google colleague and current VC at Interwest Partners.

“He can speak to a crowd of engineers and sales people with equal ease,” he said. “He was a star at Google and instrumental in scaling the AdSense platform.”

Badros has a Ph.D. from the University of Washington and did his undergrad at Duke.

Mike Schroepfer: Along with Cox and Taylor, Schroepfer has been at the top of Facebook’s org for a while as VP of engineering.

Schroepfer, who’s known internally and externally as Schrep, was previously VP of engineering at Mozilla and, before that, at Sun Microsystems.

He’s recently done a bunch of traveling with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to encourage women in tech and to open Facebook’s New York engineering office.

The affable exec also has a young family and just bought a Nissan Leaf.

Sam Lessin: The most recent addition of the group to Facebook, Lessin joined last October when Facebook nominally acquired his start-up Along with other “acqhired” CEOs, he has been influential within Facebook as a product manager.

Lessin was the major driver of Facebook’s upcoming Timeline redesign, which makes users’ profiles into visual journals of their lives. Timeline has not rolled out as soon as Facebook said it would, but it’s a major ongoing project that it seems natural for Lessin to continue to lead.

While still at, he started a side project called for paid personal email newsletters. Before that, he worked at Bain & Company.

Lessin went to Harvard at the same time as Zuckerberg and seems to be tightly integrated into the inner Facebook social circle. He recently became engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Wall Street Journal tech reporter Jessica Vascellaro.

(Full disclosure: Dow Jones owns both The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones is owned by News Corp.)

Please see the disclosure about Facebook in Liz’s ethics statement.

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