Facebook Can't Seem To Hire A New Business Head For Instagram

Kevin systrom instagramReuters/Philippe WojazerInstagram founder Kevin Systrom.

Last December, Instagram’s Director of Business Operations Emily White resigned to join Snapchat. Seven months later, Facebook has still been unable to hire her replacement and it’s not for lack of trying.

Over the past few months, Facebook executives and an external recruiting firm have reached out to candidates about the position. One person who was approached and declined the interview tells Business Insider why the job wasn’t appealing.

White, who formerly held the position, was brought into Facebook by Sheryl Sandberg and could push Instagram’s business agenda through to hireups at Facebook easily. For new candidates who don’t have established clout within Facebook, it’s not clear how much power they’d really have in a similar role.

“Emily had a direct line to Sheryl to get things done,” this person says. “I think it spooks people to think, ‘What exactly is my responsibility here? Am I going to be just a middle manager?'”

Emily White InstagramEmily White, Director of Business Operations at InstagramEmily White announced her new role at Instagram in April on the photo-sharing platform. ‘Hello Instagram team- I am excited to join you! #lookingup,’ she wrote.

While Facebook has done a good job of letting Instagram operate independently from an engineering perspective, it’s not clear if it would offer the same freedom to a new Instagram business executive. “I don’t know if I’d be able to have the authority to do that job,” this person says.

Another consideration: Instagram has already gone through an explosive period of growth and despite testing a few ads, it doesn’t seem fully ready to launch its monetization efforts. This makes it unclear what impact a new head of Instagram could actually make.

When Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 it had 30 million monthly active users. Now it has 200 million and its still growing steadily, seemingly on its own. Most of its 150 employees are engineers, although there is a business team filling White’s void.

Facebook may be purposely stalling monetization until overall advertising revenue slows and it needs to add a new stream to impress investors. Ad revenue during the first quarter of 2014 was up 82% from the year prior.

The biggest deterrent for candidates may be that Facebook is a post-IPO company that’s trying to compete with hot startups for top business and growth talent.

“If you’re leading growth for Dropbox, for example, are you really going to go do that at Instagram?” this person asks. “Resumes get built working for the Dropboxes.”

Facebook’s big-company status isn’t a turn off for everyone, though. Former PayPal president David Marcus joined in the spring.

“At first, I didn’t know whether another big company gig was a good thing for me,” Marcus wrote in June of his decision to join Facebook. “But Mark’s enthusiasm, and the unparalleled reach and consumer engagement of the Facebook platform ultimately won me over.”

White did not return a request for comment. Facebook declined to comment.

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