Facebook Nabs New Payments Director from Google

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prashant-fuloria-facebookThe Facebook Platform payments and monetization ecosystem continues to grow rapidly this year, and recently, Facebook has been getting more involved. A few weeks ago, Facebook started testing integration of its own virtual currency with Platform applications, and last week Facebook enabled payment support in 14 new currencies.

Now, we’ve learned that Facebook recently hired Prashant Fuloria, formerly a Director of Product Management at Google where he worked on Google Checkout amongst various other projects during his six year stint, as the new Director of Product Management responsible for Facebook payments. Highly regarded by colleagues, Fuloria left Google and started at Facebook last month.

With Fuloria’s hiring, the march of former Googlers two exits up the 101 to Facebook continues. At one point, nearly 10% of Facebook employees came from Google. Just a couple of weeks ago, Greg Badros, who headed up the AdSense engineering team for several years at Google, joined Facebook as a Director of Engineering.

Fuloria has his work cut out for him as he oversees the development, testing, and wider launch of Facebook payments services over the next several months. While Facebook only accepts credit card payments today, it is likely to expand its payments tests in the future, as the company seeks to monetize users across geographies and demographic profiles. Managing the integration of payments methods and systems into the Facebook experience is an increasingly important challenge for the company as it seeks to create a new, substantial direct-to-consumer revenue stream in a market that is known for its high operational costs, major fraud challenges, and international complexity.

Several companies have already launched major efforts to help developers accept payments from Facebook users – including mobile payment providers Zong and Boku, integrated credit card payment enabler Social Gold, and a variety of others – not to mention Paypal, Amazon, and Google Checkout. Even large developers like Slide are now building their own payment platforms. The Facebook Platform payments ecosystem has gotten crowded in the two years since the Platform launched – a good sign of its overall health.

Facebook opted for Platform growth over monetization in 2008, but it appears to be increasingly focused on building out its payment platform in 2009. We’ll let you know as Facebook’s monetization efforts continue to develop – though we somehow doubt they’ll include Google Checkout any time soon.