Facebook COO on Gideon Yu’s Departure

Posted by: Douglas Macmillan on April 9, 2009

Facebook has yet to provide a clear explanation for why Gideon Yu resigned as Facebook’s chief financial officer on Mar. 31. In a statement issued that day, the company said it would be “looking for someone with public company experience,” suggesting that Yu lacked the right resume for the job (even though he previously had served as an executive at public company Yahoo!). Bloggers including Kara Swisher of All Things D say Yu left at least in part because he clashed with the company’s young founder Mark Zuckerberg.

BusinessWeek editor-in-chief Stephen Adler recently had a sit-down with Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, and asked her to clarify the reasons for Yu’s departure. Sandberg praised the outgoing CFO for the work he did, and said executive turnover is common in the evolution of a growing company.

But in responding to the question, Sandberg also pointed out that Zuckerberg is not your run-of-the-mill corporate boss:

One of the things I thought about the longest and the hardest when I first met Mark was, ‘Wow, I’m going to work for a CEO who is quite young.’ As he says sometimes at work, not only has he not been a CEO before, he didn’t graduate from college and he’s never worked anywhere. You know, he’ll say, ‘This is my first job,’ or ‘I have never worked at a company.’ So that’s a pretty serious decision for someone like me to make. […] Mark is a great leader, and not in an age-adjusted kind of way. He’s just a great leader. Mark has a really strong purity of vision of what he’s trying to accomplish, but he’s also a great manager. He brings people along with him. He’s really dedicated to helping the team be successful, and I think there are an enormous number of people, I amongst them, who have really enjoyed working with him.

As great as those management skills may be, they evidently weren’t strong enough to bring Yu and the other executives who have recently departed Facebook, including form er COO Owen Van Natta and product marketing director Ben Ling along with Zuckerberg’s vision.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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