Are Elliot Schrage and Sheryl Sandberg about to stage a policy-wonk reunion in Palo Alto? When she worked at Google, Sandberg, now Facebook's COO, helped recruit Schrage from the Council on Foreign Relations. Having taken charge of Facebook PR, Sandberg is looking to hire a VP of communications with experience in public policy. Since most Valley flacks are weak in knowing the ways of D.C., that job description is tailor-made for Schrage. Sources tell us he has already interviewed at Facebook. And we hear he's more than ready to leave Google, chiefly because of its philanderrific CEO, Eric Schmidt.
It's not the fact that the married Schmidt sleeps around that bothers Schrage (and most of his underlings in Google PR); it's how Schmidt mixes business and pleasure. His recent mistress, Marcy Simon, was temporarily installed in Google's New York office to head up PR for Google's still-nonexistent Googlephone. Simon's replacement, TV journalist Kate Bohner, has squired Schmidt, very publicly, to at least one political debate cosponsored by Google's YouTube and CNN. If Schrage wanted to deal with bimbo eruptions, he could have stayed in politics.
It's not clear Schrage is the best choice for the Facebook job, objectively speaking. One person who's worked with him says he's a disaster as a manager, and not particularly strong in the PR part of his duties, preferring the more high-falutin' policy work.
But that could make him the perfect yes-man to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's plans for world amelioration. At the South by Southwest conference, Zuckerberg talked, tongue not at all in cheek, about how Facebook could bring peace to the Middle East by preventing Arab teenages from turning into terrorists. He seems to believe sincerely in this stuff. And if it gets him a job at Facebook, Schrage is just slick enough to put on the illustion that he does, too.