David Ebersman waited for the good times before saying goodbye to his friends at Facebook Inc., and he’s got almost $50 million worth of shares because of it.
Ebersman, who will be replaced as chief financial officer by former Zynga Inc. CFO David Wehner on June 1, navigated the social-networking company through the largest Internet initial public offering in May 2012. He then dealt with the blowback as the stock plunged by half over the next three months.
Government probes and more than 40 lawsuits followed, as Facebook went from being a Web darling started by a college kid to the poster child for corporate hubris. That’s all in the past now. Facebook shares have more than doubled in the past year as mobile advertising became the primary business, and the company yesterday reported first-quarter profit and revenue that sailed past analysts’ estimates. Ebersman is going back to the health-care industry, where he worked prior to Facebook.
“He feels very confident in where we are and so this was a good time to move on,” Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said in an interview. “He’s going to do something he really loves, which is health care.”
Ebersman, 44, earned $10.5 million in compensation last year, mostly through stock awards, down from $17.5 million in 2012 and $18.8 million the year before, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. He owns $47.8 million worth of Facebook shares.
From 1994 until joining Facebook in 2009, Ebersman worked at Genentech Inc., including a four-year stint as CFO. He got into Facebook by watching his own sons interact with the site. Though he’s kept a low profile, he has been instrumental in explaining the social-media business model to investors.
“I’m confident that Facebook’s best days lie ahead and I’m excited about the path,” Ebersman said yesterday on a conference call. “My decision is a personal one based on my desire to get back into health care, where I spent my entire career before Facebook. After 10 years as a CFO, half of them here, I’m ready for a different role and challenge.”
Ebersman, a bass guitar player who enjoys playing Texas Hold ’Em, is known for his calm demeanor, attention to detail and ability to explain complicated subjects. A graduate of Brown University and former analyst at Oppenheimer & Co., he’s been central to telling the story of the business of social media.
Within Facebook, he pushed the company to strengthen its financial planning, even when it wasn’t clear how volatile the nascent business model could be, Sandberg said.
“I remember when he wanted to do a three-year budget,” she said. “We were like, we can do a three-year budget? And he did it. We’ve had very strong financial planning.”
Facebook shares climbed as much as 6 percent to $65.04 in extended trading yesterday. As of the close in New York, the stock had gained 61 percent since the IPO.
Wehner, who joined Facebook in 2012, spent nine years at investment bank Allen & Co. before going to social-gaming company Zynga in 2010.
Ebersman “set us up to make the long-term investments we need and most importantly he’s built an incredibly strong team, including Dave Wehner,” Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said on the conference call.