Sheryl Sandberg, who led online sales of Google’s AdSense and AdWords products, has left the search giant to join Facebook as chief operating officer.
In the role, Sandberg will help Facebook scale up its sales, marketing, public policy, and other operations, while facilitating the company’s global expansion, a major revenue priority for the firm. Facebook recently named Mike Murphy to lead its global ad sales efforts when it announced the departure of chief revenue officer Owen Van Natta. Murphy will now report to Sandberg.
Sandberg unofficially replaces Van Natta according to reports, though Facebook wasn’t available to confirm that by press time.
Sandberg oversaw Google’s online sales channels, which account for the great majority of the company’s AdWords and AdSense sales to small and mid-sized businesses. She also directed sales of its consumer products and its Google Book Search program.
Her success driving sales of the company’s AdSense contextual ad network may be of greatest interest to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. In a statement, 23-year-old Zuckerberg highlighted Sandberg’s experience “building new kinds of advertising networks.” While Facebook has not yet signaled any specific ad network ambitions, the company could be well positioned to deliver ads based on its users’ geographic, demographic, and behavioral data while they’re visiting partner sites.
Zuckerberg and company may also look to Sandberg to generate marketer adoption of the referral-based advertising product, Social Ads, introduced back in November. Anecdotal reports suggest the product has struggled to reach consumers in critical numbers typically demanded by large advertisers.
“Sheryl understands Facebook’s goal of connecting everyone in the world and is passionate about building a business that will enable us to realize this mission,” Zuckerberg added.
Sandberg joined Google six years ago after working the U.S. Treasury Department, where she was chief of staff during Bill Clinton’s administration. Before that she was an economist with The World Bank, where her work focused on addressing leprosy in India. She’s on the board of Google.org/the Google Foundation, and also holds board positions at ONE Campaign, The Ad Council, and eHealthInsurance.
When she starts on March 24, Sandberg will be the first woman to obtain a senior executive role at Facebook. She’ll report directly to Zuckerberg.
In a statement attributed to Global Sales SVP Omid Kordestani, Google said it promoted David Fischer to replace Sandberg as a VP of online sales and operations.
“Sheryl was a valued member of the Google team and we wish her well in her new endeavors,” said the statement. “We have a deep management bench at Google and are delighted that David Fischer, who has been such an important part of the growth of this world-wide organization, will assume responsibility for Google’s global online sales and operations.”
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