Another high-profile executive is leaving Facebook: Matt Cohler, a nearly four-year veteran who has been vice president of product management. He’s heading to Benchmark Capital as a general partner starting in the fall. But he also will continue what he characterizes as a close relationship with Facebook, serving as special advisor to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Clearly, Facebook would prefer not to lose the full-time services of Cohler, one of the company’s earliest executives. But Cohler says it’s strictly because of the opportunity at Benchmark, not because of any disagreement with Facebook management, which now includes former Google sales exec Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO. That’s a view confirmed so far by Boomtown’s Kara Swisher.
Cohler tells me he had actually discussed eventually becoming a venture capitalist when he first talked four years ago with Mark Zuckerberg. (A former colleague of his confirmed this with me.) So when Benchmark’s Peter Fenton approached him recently with an offer to look at Internet-related investment opportunities, he couldn’t turn it down. “It took me by surprise,” says 31-year-old Cohler, who was also a founding executive at LinkedIn. “But I always thought this would be my long-term trajectory.”
Cohler acknowledges that his new role might at times conflict with his continuing role at Facebook since, as he puts it, “a lot of what the Internet is about is social.” Although he doesn’t foresee a lot of conflicts emerging, I do wonder new ventures Cohler identifies inevitably could collide with Facebook’s clearly big and broad ambitions.
Meantime, Cohler’s departure means all the more that Facebook’s management team remains a moving target. Onetime COO Owen van Natta left early this year, and CTO Adam D’Angelo departed in May.