Facebook’s Matt Cohler Leaving for Benchmark Capital

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matt cohlerFacebook’s VP of Product Management, Matt Cohler, announced today that he is leaving Facebook to become a General Partner at leading Silicon Valley venture capital firm Benchmark Capital. Cohler will join Benchmark this fall, at which point he will still retain a formal advisory role at Facebook.

Cohler was one of Facebook’s earliest executive hires in 2005, and had worked closely with CEO Mark Zuckerberg to shape the product and company over the past three years. His departure comes soon after the arrival of COO Sheryl Sandberg, who reportedly tried to convince Cohler to stay. Apparently the move had more to do with Cohler’s desire to become a VC than any brewing issues in the Facebook front office.

“It is difficult to leave my full-time role at Facebook, but Benchmark provides an extraordinary opportunity to build on my experience helping great entrepreneurs and to work side-by-side with some of the best investors, technologists and strategists I have ever known,” said Cohler in a statement. “The values, investment philosophy and unique team structure at Benchmark are an ideal fit for me. I am enormously excited about the opportunities that lie ahead, and grateful that I can maintain my close ties to Facebook, one of the most exciting companies in the world, as it continues to evolve and grow.”

Also commenting on the move were Peter Fenton, General Partner at Benchmark, and Reid Hoffman, Chairman and President of Products at LinkedIn, with whom Cohler formerly worked:

“Matt truly stands out in his generation as someone with the potential to be a great venture capitalist,” said Fenton. “His experience at both Facebook and LinkedIn speaks to his instincts for new opportunities and to his ability to provide counsel to exceptional entrepreneurs, such as Mark Zuckerberg and Reid Hoffman. Matt has set his sights extremely high, and at his young age has already helped to fundamentally change the face of the Internet. We could not be more thrilled to add Matt’s talents, relationships and passion to Benchmark.”

“Matt has pursued the ideal path to be a great venture capitalist,” said Hoffman. “His natural abilities, together with his operational experience at LinkedIn and Facebook, are the exact ingredients entrepreneurs seek when partnering with an investor.”