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Having poached management talent from Google in the persons of Sheryl Sandberg and Elliot Schrage, not to mention Gideon Yu from YouTube, Facebook has now hired Mozilla's VP of engineering, Mike Schroepfer, as its new director of engineering.
"I'm moving on from my role at Mozilla Corporation to head up the front-end and platform development at Facebook," Schroepfer said in a valedictory blog post.
Schroepfer brings with him years of experience as CTO of Sun's data center automation business, not to mention his role overseeing the launches of Firefox 1.5, 2, and 3. His hiring is likely to assuage worries that Facebook's fortunes depend too heavily on the fresh-faced and starry-eyed.
Adding Schroepfer to the seasoned engineering talent it has already wooed and won from Google, including Benjamin Ling and Justin Rosenstein, Facebook should be ready to meet the technical challenge it faces as it tries to field a development platform that can compete with the likes of Google, MySpace, and a host of smaller social networks.
At F8, the Facebook developer conference held last week, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Ling, now director of platform product marketing, offered a refined vision of Facebook as a development platform. The new world order at Facebook calls for trust and utility, quite a change from the shady frivolity that characterizes many ad-supported viral apps.
Faced with questions about how Facebook will make money, when its payment platform will be available, and whether it will adopt the OpenSocial API backed by Google, Zuckerberg clearly has plenty of work to throw Schroepfer's way.
And as Schroepfer works to get Facebook's platform into fighting form, Microsoft will be footing a large part of the bill. Having invested $240 million in Facebook last year, Microsoft said last week that it had struck a deal to provide search and search ads on Facebook.
During his days at Mozilla, Schroepfer's indirect benefactor was Google, which provides most of Mozilla's revenue through royalties from Google ad clicks that follow from Firefox searches.