Kara Swisher

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Facebook's Longtime Ad Sales Head Mike Murphy to Depart Company

Mike Murphy, Facebook’s VP of Global Sales, is leaving the company.

Facebook said the well-known advertising exec decided to step down in order to take some personal time off, which Murphy reiterated was the case in an interview with BoomTown, noting that hundreds of nights on the road over the years have been enough.

“For the last five years of hyper-growth here, I have been focused on Facebook,” said Murphy. “Now, I felt it was time to shift that focus to my family.”

Murphy will stay on at the Silicon Valley social networking powerhouse until December, helping with the transition. His staff was told this morning in an email from him.

Both he and his boss David Fischer, VP of Advertising and Global Operations, have discounted any notion of tension between them, since Fischer came on board at Facebook in March.

Murphy said he had been planning his departure for a while, and wanted to get through the most recent quarter to finally pull the trigger.

“It is something I have been thinking about for quite some time and I discussed it with David early on,” said Murphy, who noted Facebook execs tried to come up with other options at the company for him. “I wanted [my departure] to come at a time when I knew the team was in good hands.”

Fischer said that there are no precise plans to replace Murphy yet, but that Facebook would “evaluate a lot of options.”

Interestingly, while he said he had no plans for now, Murphy is perhaps the dream candidate for Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz to run its ad sales business, which has been drifting of late due to a series of exec departures.

In fact, Murphy is an ex-Yahoo exec, having come to Facebook in 2006 directly from a stint as VP of Media Sales for the Western region at the Internet giant.

At Facebook, Murphy has led media strategy, advertising sales and account management. He came to the company five years ago, when it was not the social networking powerhouse it is today.

He is one of a handful of experienced online ad sales leaders in the business, and the affable exec is very well-liked in the industry.

Murphy also worked at Ziff-Davis Publishing and CMP Media.

Reflecting on all the changes that have gone on in online advertising, especially with the advent of social media, Murphy noted how quickly the landscape has changed.

“It’s been an amazing progression for marketers from how you launch a campaign to having a presence on Facebook to how you make an emotional connection with your customer,” said Murphy. “The momentum has been huge.”

That’s why Murphy said he expects to eventually return to the fray, once he has spent some quality time at home and has a “clear head.”

For a look back, here is a video interview I did with Murphy in 2007, back in the days when Owen Van Natta, also in the video, was COO at the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook:

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