Metaplatforms related to Facebook Inc.
created a new role for its longtime chief financial officer, David Wehner, promoting him to chief strategy officer, an uncommon title for a former chief financial officer.
Mr. Wehner will start in his new role on Nov. 1, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based social media giant announced Wednesday. In his new role, he will oversee strategy and business development.
Mr. Wehner, who joined the company in 2012, has served as chief financial officer for the past eight years. Susan Li, the company’s vice president of finance since 2016, will succeed him.
It is rare for CFOs to advance to the role of Chief Strategy Officer, although this role is a natural transition given the variety of topics that CFOs deal with on a daily basis, such as closing deals and other tasks that go beyond balance sheet management, said corporate recruiters. A more popular route for CFOs is to take on the role of COO.
But over the past year, companies have added titles such as chairman and COO to the awards of top performing CFOs in a bid to retain them in a booming job market. At Meta, Javier Olivan, currently chief growth officer, will become chief operating officer following the departure of longtime executive Sheryl Sandberg, the company announced last month.
By creating a new role for Mr. Wehner, Meta is facilitating a transition for Ms. Li, whom recruiters have described as a rising star in corporate finance and someone who was on the shortlist of best finance jobs outside of Meta. In her current role, Ms. Li oversees financial planning, forecasting and budgeting. She joined the company in 2008 and worked in its finance division when it went public in 2012.
“My feeling is that it was a defensive move by Meta because they would have lost it if they hadn’t promoted it,” said Jamie Carter, a partner who focuses on recruiting chief financial officers at Lancor, a headhunting business. Mr Carter said his company had tried to recruit her on several occasions over the past few years.
Meta declined to make Mr. Wehner and Ms. Li available for interviews.
By keeping Mr. Wehner with the company, Meta retains his institutional knowledge, which is helpful in a CFO transition, even if he were to retire after a short time, recruiters said.
“I interpret this as a transparent way to plan for succession that doesn’t involve him leaving the company all together,” said Aaron Rouza, partner and co-head of the financial agent practice at recruiting firm True.
“We’ve been working on this succession plan for several years now and I’m confident that Susan is ready to take on this role,” Meta President and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
Yet the timing of the transition, after Ms. Sandberg’s departure, and the promotion of a chief financial officer with no previous experience as chief financial officer, caught some stock analysts off guard.
“It’s one of the biggest CFO jobs in U.S. public companies,” said Lloyd Walmsley, a research analyst at investment firm UBS Group AG, who said he was surprised the company didn’t. has not appointed a permanent CFO to this position. Mr. Walmsley Underlined Alphabet Inc.
CFO Ruth Porat as an example: Ms. Porat was CFO for five years at Morgan Stanley before taking her current role in 2015.
Among S&P 500 and Fortune 500 companies, 17% of serving CFOs who have been promoted from within have previously served as a corporate finance executive, making it the most common stepping stone to the job, according to data from recruitment firm Crist Kolder Associates. The rest held positions such as comptrollers, treasurers and divisional financial directors. A quarter of all CFOs in the same dataset had previously held the position of CFO before taking their current titles.
In his new role, Mr. Wehner – whose previous experience includes working at investment banking firm Allen & Co. – will likely focus on mergers and acquisitions, which is a key part of the company’s strategy. Meta’s growth, Walmsley said. This strategy likely became more difficult amid antitrust scrutiny in Washington. The Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday it was seeking to block Meta from acquiring Within Unlimited Inc. and its dedicated virtual reality fitness app, Supernatural.
On Wednesday, Meta posted its first quarterly drop in revenue from a year earlier as it grapples with a slowdown in advertising spending, which accounts for the bulk of its revenue. The company, which faces increasing competition from ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok, is among several tech giants slowing hiring as high inflation and an uncertain economic outlook contribute to slowing growth. industry.
Write to Kristin Broughton at Kristin.Broughton@wsj.com
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