As Originally Posted at the Wall Street Journal
Facebook Inc.'s chief financial officer, Gideon Yu, is leaving the Internet company, which has begun a search for his replacement, said a person familiar with the matter.
Mr. Yu, who joined Facebook in 2007, was previously the chief financial officer of YouTube, now a Google Inc. unit. He couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Mr. Yu is the latest in a string of executives to depart the five-year-old company, whose employees and investors remain anxious about when and whether it will go public. Facebook is looking for a CFO with "public company experience," the person familiar with the matter said.
The departure of the 37-year-old Mr. Yu and the ensuing search for a replacement are likely to renew speculation that Facebook, which has previously said it hopes to go public within the next few years, is stepping up plans to do so despite the rocky economy.
The person familiar with the matter said Facebook's financials are strong and that the company expects revenue growth of at least 70% in 2009 compared with 2008 revenue--far above the estimates of some outside analysts.
This person declined to say how much revenue Facebook is making, but added that the company has had positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, for the past five quarters and expects to be cash-flow positive in 2010.
The numbers suggest that Facebook's rapid climb to roughly 200 million users hasn't taken the toll some investors and analysts had been speculating about, and that interest in its online-advertising products is growing. But whether the company can grow fast enough to justify its high valuation, remain unclear.
Mr. Yu was an executive at Yahoo Inc. before joining YouTube, which he helped sell to Google. After Google bought YouTube, he accepted an offer to join the venture-capital firm of Sequoia Capital before landing at Facebook.
Mr. Yu helped seal a major round of investment for the company in late 2007. At that time, Microsoft Corp. bought a preferred 1.6% stake in for $240 million, valuing the startup at $15 billion. Other investors with different terms bought in that round at a lower valuation, however, according to investors.
Since the collapse of the economy last year, Mr. Yu's job has grown more difficult, as Facebook has struggled to raise money at even lower valuations.
In December, Facebook postponed a program to allow employees to sell some of their shares after the company struggled to raise money at around a $4 billion company valuation, according to people familiar with the plan. At the time, the company cited the "incredibly difficult" global economy.