Will Stephen Haines stay at Facebook UK?
It’s been one of the best kept secrets of the summer among the media elite, apparently; Facebook UK is soon to be under new management.
Discreet conversations with potential candidates for the role of a local managing director at the world’s largest social media network have been taking place while the rest of us were glued to London 2012.
The hunt for a new local leader makes sense from a global strategic point of view. The UK is Facebook’s largest commercial operation in Europe, and generally believed to be its second largest market outside the US.
For a US digital company like Facebook, its UK investment ticks all the right boxes. Here, the social network enjoys high penetration of around 40 million users and a leading e-commerce culture, with a higher percentage of GDP attributed to “the internet” than any G20 country.
Another known cornerstone to Facebook’s future is mobile, where ad spend is projected to reach £962m in 2014 – a 3000% increase since 2008.
So yes, Media Week’s news today of an incoming MD, and that the company’s creative chief – and client favourite – Mark D’Arcy, is relocating to London, makes sense. As does news that Joanna Shields is set to get another pair of hands at a regional level.
But the hunt for its first UK MD has already led some in the industry to question its impact. How easy will it be for anyone to take control and motivate a team whose senior management already have serious money in the bank? And it’s a bank that’s about to open its ATM for the first time.
Whether Facebook’s shares edge back towards IPO highs of $38, or remain at today’s $21 price, any staff with substantial stock remain multi-millionaires.
They are the ones being asked, ‘what still gets you up in the morning?’ They have been forced to watch as early investors cashed out last month at the first available opportunity. And soon they will be able to do the same.
Facebook employees with stakes in the company will be free to sell more than 1.4 billion shares when “Lockup” expirations arrive in October, November and December this year.
Among them is one Stephen Haines, the commercial director who was only the second person to join Facebook UK back in November 2007. Considered by many to be the archetypal sales professional, Haines has been a strong advocate for the brand and is believed to be on course to bring revenues of up to £270m this year.
But with the arrival of a new boss and a multimillion pound pay cheque, it is not unreasonable to question his motivation.
When asked about the pending changes today he remained the consummate sales man, upbeat and positive, he’d only add that he’s about to go on his first holiday in a very long time.
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