Facebook’s CFO, David Ebersman, is one of the most respected executives I’ve ever asked about.I haven’t met Ebersman personally yet, but in the context of doing some research on Facebook, I asked a lot of people about him.
And they love the guy!
Specifically, here’s what they told me:
A former Wall Street analyst, Ebersman worked for 15 years at biotech giant Genentech before he joined Facebook in 2009. Competition for the Facebook CFO slot was fierce, but after meeting Ebersman, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg knew he had found who he was looking for.
For starters, like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Ebersman was young—39 at the time—which meant that he might be around for a while (Facebook didn’t want a CFO who wanted to cash in on the IPO as a final lucrative career stop and then bolt). Second, he understood how important Facebook’s culture and sense of mission were, because Genentech had shared the same qualities. Third, prior to being promoted to CFO at Genentech, Ebersman had been in an operating role, so he wasn’t just a numbers guy—rather, he knew how finance could serve the rest of the organisation. Fourth, like Sheryl Sandberg, he was already wealthy, so he wasn’t just looking for a quick score from the IPO.
Ebersman also had other qualities that appealed to Facebook. He plays bass in a band called “Feed Bomb,” which apparently gives him cred with Facebook’s engineers. He’s described as smart and unflappable:
“In a sea of craziness, a colleague says, ‘even the way he talks is cool. It always feels like there’s a there’s a quarter-second pause before he answers… because it feels like he’s deliberating.'”
So that was all good.
Then, today, I was chatting with someone who I learned knew Ebersman in high school–at Trinity in New York.
So I asked what Ebersman was like back then.
Here’s the answer I got:
Serious, smart, great at maths, emotionally detached. Conversationally challenged but a nice kid, unthreatening in that way that can make high-school boys popular with girls. He was Zuckerbergian, actually — I was so not surprised when he went to Facebook.
Zuckerbergian! And a hot commodity in high school.
No wonder he’s so successful.
[Know anything more about Ebersman? Please send me info and anecdotes! [email protected]]