Facebook executive Mike Vernal, who supervised search and developer products at the social networking giant, announced his departure from the social media giant to join venture capital firm Sequoia Capital. The social networking site said the product team will continue to be run by their individual leaders and that it is not planning to replace Vernal.
Vernal was important to Facebook
Vernal, who worked for the social media giant for eight years, directly reported to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Vernal joined Sequoia as a partner, and there, he will invest in early-stage startups. Vernal, who was the vice president of search, local and developers’ products, announced his departure on Monday afternoon.
In a statement, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company said, “Mike Vernal has been an integral part of the Facebook team. While we’re sad to lose him, we’re happy for him to take the next step in his career and wish him all the best.”
At Facebook, Vernal helped the social networking site’s efforts to turn its search function into more of a resource for people to find public posts on current events and not just a place to find profiles of friends.
The news of Vernal’s departure came just a week after Facebook’s annual developer conference in San Francisco. The conference drew about 2,500 attendees to hear about the company’s 10-year vision, which is focused on artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots and virtual reality.
Not an easy decision to make
In an interview with Re/code, Vernal said it was not easy to come to this decision, especially when Zuckerberg laid out a grand vision at the developers’ conference which included things like Internet-beaming drones and towers and connecting humans inside virtual reality.
“The company is so mission driven, and that mission is so good that it’s hard [to leave],” he said. “It’s a pretty exceptional place with pretty exceptional leaders.”
Vernal told the website he has interest “across a lot of industries” and didn’t particularly tell about the verticals he will pursue at Sequoia. Since the departure of Michael Goguen, a longtime partner who left last month after a former exotic dancer filed a lawsuit alleging abuse and breach of contract, Vernal is the first partner to be added to the firm. Goguen invested in later-stage growth companies.
Vernel is not new to investing in companies; he has done a sort of angel investing in the past – something he calls investing in “friends and friends of friends.”