"Over the next few weeks, Owen Van Natta will be transitioning out of his role at Facebook to pursue other opportunities," according to a statement from the fast-growing, ad-supported social network. "Owen has played an important role in getting Facebook to where it is today." The statement credits him with building the core infrastructure of the company, orchestrating Facebook's relationship with Microsoft, and recruiting sales and business-development talent.
Mr. Van Natta came to Facebook as one of its early employees (No. 32, he told the crowd at Ad Age's Idea Conference late last year) from Amazon, where he was VP-worldwide business and corporate development and part of the team that founded its web-search company, A9.
"At Amazon and Facebook, it's about trial and error and being willing to take risks," he said, describing the similarities between the two companies at the Idea Conference. One of Facebook's risks on Mr. Van Natta's watch was the controversial Beacon program, which the company eventually scaled back due to privacy concerns. The Beacon system, part of Facebook's new advertising platform, tells users' friends about their actions on sites outside of Facebook. Advertisers can buy ads to run against those alerts.
Mr. Van Natta's departure was first reported on AllThingsD.com.
Facebook, according to its statement, "will continue to expand its management team as it builds a social utility that connects the world. As part of this, we will be actively adding key people across the company in the coming weeks and months."
The company named Matt Cohler, previously VP-strategy and operations, to act as VP-product management, where he will be responsible for working closely with the engineering team. The company is giving VP-Sales Mike Murphy international duties in addition to his domestic ad-sales duties.