Monday, June 16, 2008

Jeff Weiner, CEO of Facebook?

It's pretty common for accomplished executive talent to join VCs in EIR positions -- with the 'E' being either 'Entrepreneur' or 'Executive' In Residence. But this may be the first time that I've seen someone join *two* VC firms in such a role simultaneously. The purpose of an EIR role is to help advance the agenda ( = fund returns) of the VC, while advancing the career of the exec. Hard to do that for two different VCs at once. So unless Weiner is such a rare talent that he got Accel and Greylock to agree to go halvsies on his potential future value creation, there must be some reason that that they're mutually interested in him.

The biggest thing that Accel and Greylock have going together is... Facebook. Now we all know that Mark Zuckerberg is firmly ensconced in the CEO role there. But is he really? A year later, Beacon is a failure. Jerry Yang has spent the last six months giving us all a lurid demonstration that even with fifteen years of seasoning, founding CEOs rarely are the right guys to manage public companies. Facebook has made no secret of its intentions to stay independent and go public. So... Jeff Weiner as CEO of Facebook? Don't be surprised.

Is Weiner a good fit for Facebook? It's a company with serious platform ambitions, which has been successfully recruiting senior technical talent from Google. It's a classic Web 2.0 company, scaled to the max. And it's a company that is poised to inherit the mantle of Yahoo as the biggest property of the social/personal web, as Yahoo continues to bleed away its birthright. Here's a snippet of Weiner's resume from the Accel release:
During his tenure, Weiner helped drive the Network’s Open and Social strategy and expansion of the company’s category-leading consumer web products... Prior to his Network role, Weiner was part of the Search leadership team that directed the acquisition and integration of Inktomi, AltaVista, FAST as well as the development of Yahoo! Search Technology. He helped launch the company's suite of social search products - including Yahoo! Answers - and led the acquisitions of and Flickr. He was also part of the leadership team formed to help revitalize the company's Search Marketing efforts.

Yeah, that experience might just apply to what Facebook is trying to do.

Kara Swisher has some thoughts on the implications of Weiner's departure from Yahoo, and she also wrote the magic 'Facebook' word before I did ;-)

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