Facebook Fires CFO as It Looks Ahead to an IPO


Facebook today dismissed its chief financial officer, Gideon Yu, as the social networking phenomenon is sending signals about its plans to go public.

“Despite the poor economic climate, we are pleased that our financial performance is strong and we are well positioned for the next stage of our growth,” the company said in a statement. “We have retained Spencer Stuart to lead our search for a new CFO and will be looking for someone with public company experience.”

Facebook’s finances have been a closely guarded secret and a favorite topic of speculation in the blogosphere, but a source familiar with the matter told InternetNews.com that the company has enjoyed five straight quarters of profitability by the measure of EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

The source said that at this early stage in the year, Facebook is on track to see annual revenues jump 70 percent from last year, and that the company expects to be cash flow positive next year.

Facebook is still looking ahead to an IPO, but the source said there is no timetable for going public.

In the past year, Facebook has jumped from around 400 employees to nearly 900 as it continues to grow domestically and beefs up its operations overseas. Yu, 37, had an impressive resume but was generally thought of as someone best suited to bringing along young companies as they mature.

Prior to joining Facebook, Yu had served as CFO of YouTube, where he helped negotiate the sale of the video-sharing site to Google for $1.65 billion.

Previously, Yu was a senior vice president of finance at Yahoo, where he also held the title of treasurer. Yu’s executive bio on Facebook’s site (still available as of this writing) credits him with engineering more than 30 acquisitions and investments at Yahoo, including the purchases of Delicious Flickr and the partial acquisition of Asian e-commerce sites Alibaba and Taobao. Yu also led Yahoo’s first round of financing since its own IPO.

Yu was one of the early high-profile Google executives to wind up at Facebook. The company has also poached Sheryl Sandberg to step in as COO and Eliot Schrage to head up the company’s public relations efforts.

Yu’s dismissal, announced by internal memo, comes amid speculation that Facebook has been actively seeking — and struggling to secure — an additional round of financing. The source disputed that characterization, saying that some of the reporting had been confused and that Facebook is not actively looking to sell an equity stake to an investment group, but that it would consider a deal if the price was right.

Microsoft famously paid $240 million for a 1.6 percent stake in the company in 2007, giving it a valuation of $15 billion, a figure that exceeded analysts’ most generous estimates, and by all measures has come down considerably.

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