Facebook hires Google exec to lead M&A efforts

City A.M. Reporter
Facebook has hired one Google's business development executives to lead its fledgling merger and acquisition efforts.

In a sign the world's No. 1 internet social network has a growing appetite for deals, Amin Zoufonoun, a director of corporate development at Google, will join Facebook next week.

The move – the latest development in the rivalry between the two internet powers – comes as Facebook steps up its acquisitions, which to date have primarily been small start-ups it has bought for engineering talent rather than actual products.

"I think for sure over time they expect to do bigger and bigger deals," said a source familiar with the matter.

"They've certainly got the stock and cash to do those kinds of things. So I expect them to be more active."

Privately-held Facebook recently raised $1.5bn (£932m) from investors including Goldman Sachs and Digital Sky Technologies, as well as through a private offering to overseas investors conducted by Goldman Sachs, at a valuation of roughly $50bn.

Earlier this month, investment firm General Atlantic bought a stake in Facebook at a $65bn valuation, according to a report on CNBC.

Zoufonoun, who has worked at Google since 2003, according to a biography on LinkedIn, will report to Facebook's Vaughan Smith, who oversees the company's overall corporate development efforts.

But Zoufonoun will become the key person overseeing Facebook's M&A efforts, according to the source, who wished to remain anonymous.

"He's really going over there to build some professionalism into the team and to hire folks," said the source.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the move but declined to provide further comment. Google had no immediate comment.

Last year, Facebook acquired ten companies, its most ever, including location service HotPotato and Chai Labs. The blog Inside Facebook quoted Smith as saying the company hoped to do "doublish" the number of deals in 2011.

Zoufonoun's move is the latest sign of Facebook's ambitious expansion plans and underscores the rivalry between the social networking company and Google.