How Jeff Weiner botched the top job at Facebook


Yahoos are still buzzing about Jeff Weiner's departure for the world of venture capital. Before he left, many of his coworkers thought he was a shoo-in for a CEO gig at Facebook. Now that he's an entrepreneur-in-residence jointly at Accel Partners and Greylock Partners — both investors in Facebook — the conspiracy theorists have changed their patter: Weiner's just in a holding pen until Accel and Greylock can boot founder Mark Zuckerberg, install Weiner as CEO, and take the company public. "Zuck is definitely out ... it's just a matter of time. It's clear as day," one tipster writes. Clear as mud, rather. It makes sense that Yahoos, bitter at Facebook's success and eager to have one of their own deliver a comeuppance to Zuckerberg, would be circulating this rumor. But here's what they don't know about Jeff Weiner and Mark Zuckerberg.

Weiner did meet with Zuckerberg over dinner to discuss a top position at Facebook — the COO spot that Sheryl Sandberg now occupies. But Weiner bombed, we're told, ordering a fancy bottle of wine (Zuckerberg's not a big drinker) and generally playing it slick. The two utterly failed to connect.

The notion that Facebook's venture capitalists could install a CEO over Zuckerberg's head is nonsensical. Greylock's David Sze doesn't even have a board seat; Jim Breyer of Accel is on the board, but he's easily overruled by Zuckerberg and Peter Thiel, the entrepreneur-friendly former PayPal CEO. Zuckerberg has the right to appoint two more board members, and one of the seats is rumored to have gone to Netscape cofounder Marc Andreessen, who strikes me as an extremely unlikely ally for Weiner.

So where does that leave Weiner? Zuckerberg may not like him, but Zuckerberg's VCs do, which leaves him with the consolation prize of an EIR job. And Yahoo's conspiracy theorists in need of something new to talk about. How about Flickr cofounder Stewart Butterfield's gonzo resignation email?