Facebook Chief Technology Officer Adam D'Angelo has left the company and will not be replaced, a company spokesperson told eWEEK May 12.
The company confirmed it is looking to hire a vice president of engineering in his stead.
While the blog AllFacebook.com reports that the arrival of Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg from Google is causing dissension among the programming-minded executive ranks at Facebook, a person familiar with the company's plans told eWEEK that D'Angelo was simply burnt out and needed to take time off.
D'Angelo was responsible for "new product design and architecture," as well as leading the site's infrastructure to ensure expansion and scalability, according to his biography on the company's Web site.
But Facebook has experienced rocketlike growth, which often leads to an increase in bureaucracy. In the thick of this as a C-level executive, D'Angelo was feeling that pressure.
As a technologist, and formerly one of the top 24 finalists in the international Topcoder Collegiate Challenge, D'Angelo's interests are more in step with engineering and programming than helping to manage a rapidly growing company.
To be sure, Facebook's executives have a lot more pressure and demands since the company launched four years ago, particularly with the increase in competition for socially generated online advertising.
If D'Angelo wasn't ready to help CEO and high-school buddy Mark Zuckerberg and Sandberg in the company's war room as they strategize about how to beat Google, MySpace and a host of others in making money from social ads, the decision to leave was a wise one.
One less C-level executive means one less manager to consult in strategic decisions, and a vice president of engineering will align more consistently with Facebook's current technological tier of vice presidents.
The source also said D'Angelo did not say he was leaving to join another company. Moreover, he is not expected to return to Facebook when he is done taking his time off. At 23, D'Angelo's future remains wide open. Where will he end up?
Indeed, the departure turns a growing trend of executive reversals a bit on its ear. In the last six months, several Google executives, seeking new challenges or perhaps tired of an increasingly bureaucratic environment, left the company to join Facebook.
These include Sandberg, Gideon Yu, Ethan Beard and, most recently, Elliot Schrage, who is joining Facebook this week as vice president of global communications and public affairs.