Facebook CFO Gideon Yu Leaving, Facebook Says Financials “Strong”

Facebook CFO Gideon Yu is leaving the company today, the Wall Street Journal and AllThingsD report. Facebook has confirmed the departure, and says the company is looking for a new CFO with “public company experience.”

Yu joined Facebook as CFO in 2007, replacing former CFO Mike Sheridan. He has since overseen several major rounds of equity and debt financing, including $240 million from Microsoft in 2007 as part of a preferred equity investment and strategic alliance that valued the company at $15 billion, $100 million investment from Chinese billionare Li Ka-Shing in early 2008, $100 million loan from TriplePoint in May 2008, an undisclosed investment by Germany’s Samwer brothers also early last year, and another potential $100 million equipment lease line very recently.

In a statement today, Facebook said that its “financial performance is strong” and that the company has retained executive search firm Spencer Stuart to lead its search for a new CFO “with public company experience.”

Facebook confirms that CFO Gideon Yu will be leaving the company. Gideon has played an important role in helping us achieve our financial success, building a strong finance team and establishing the core financial operations of our company. We are grateful to Gideon for his contributions to Facebook and what we are trying to accomplish. Despite the poor economic climate, we are pleased that our financial performance is strong and are well positioned for the next stage of our growth.  We have retained Spencer Stuart to lead our search for a new CFO and will be looking for someone with public company experience.

VentureBeat reported this week that a source close to the company said Facebook did $300 million in revenues in 2008 and was nearly break even, and expects to do over $400 million this year. However, the company’s operational costs have been growing with the rapid increase in the size of Facebook’s active user base.

Yu was previously the CFO of YouTube and played a large role in its sale to Google. Before YouTube, he served as treasurer and SVP Finance at (publicly traded) Yahoo.

Update: Kara Swisher at AllThingsD has further updates on the story:

The company said in its internal memo to staff that it was on the path toward an IPO soon, with revenue growth up 70 percent in 2009, was EBITDA profitable this year and would be cash flow positive in 2010.

The memo also painted Yu’s departure as another step toward its much-anticipated IPO, although it is clearly an ouster of much more complex internal reasons about how Facebook is run…

But while Facebook can be a highly political place, with a high level of infighting among execs, it is also a place where Zuckerberg and his wishes firmly hold sway.

And those wishes included the fact that Zuckerberg has long and publicly maintained that Facebook’s growth was paramount over a total focus on monetization of the service.

70% revenue growth in 2009 is higher than most estimates we’ve heard. Yu was reportedly out of the office this afternoon.

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