Kara Swisher

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Google’s PR Head Elliot Schrage Heads to Facebook

The Googlefication of Facebook continues, as Elliot Schrage, the search giant’s vice president of global communications and public affairs, takes the title of vice president of communications and public policy at the popular social-networking site.


Schrage confirmed his new job to BoomTown, right after he friended us on Facebook last night, using its new chat feature.

Way to go native quickly, Elliot!

The move to hire Schrage (pictured here) was announced to Facebook’s employees late this evening.

In a memo that BoomTown obtained (entire text below) to Facebook troops from India, where he is traveling, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said about the Schrage hire:

“This is a really important role for us and one that we’ve been trying to find the right person for a while. Elliot’s role will be critical to helping us scale based on our culture that values transparency, openness and honest internal communications.”

Valleywag said Schrage had interviewed for the job at Facebook in a post earlier today about the possibility of Schrage working there.

At Facebook, Schrage will report to Sheryl Sandberg, another top-level Google exec who was hired as COO by Facebook, which is seeking to beef up its management ranks.

Other Googlers who have recently moved to Facebook include: Ben Ling, who is Facebook’s director of platform product marketing and Ethan Beard, who is its business development director.

Schrage is a big name to defect to Facebook from Google (GOOG), a trend that is probably becoming irksome to its top execs.

But Google’s deep bench of execs are enticing to many companies, even as the burgeoning size of Google makes it harder to hold onto more entrepreneurial employees. In addition, Google can no longer offer as lucrative a stock package to its staff as start-ups can, even though most of those smaller companies are not likely to pay off.

With a $15 billion valuation, Facebook is a safer bet, but still has to prove its worth and remains a risky move for execs like Schrage.

Still, according to sources, he contacted Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg directly and did not go through Sandberg. When she left Google, as is typical for departing execs, Sandberg agreed not to solicit Google employees.

A Harvard-trained lawyer, Schrage had extensive public-policy experience before heading to Google two years ago, where he was in charge of the “company’s public-facing communications, including media relations, policy strategy and stakeholder outreach, as well as internal communications.”

He will have his work cut out for him at Facebook, which has already faced some PR snafus and vexing public policy issues, including controversy around privacy and advertising practices.

Sources said Schrage was interested in Facebook, because it was a company poised for explosive growth, much like Google in its early days. In addition, unlike Google, which has grown large, Schrage would have more of an ability to make an impact in arenas he favors like public policy.

Here is the text of Zuckerberg’s memo to Facebook employees about the hiring of Schrage (with start date and new email address missing), which was released tonight at 8:55 p.m. PDT:

Hey Everyone–

I’m writing from India to share with you the good news that Elliot Schrage will be joining our management team as VP Communications and Public Policy. In this role, he will be responsible for developing the key messages we want people to understand about our products, our business and the growing global importance of social networking and what we do. The goal here is to help people understand how the internet can strengthen people’s relationships. Elliot will direct our efforts to work with users, media, governments and other entities around the world to ensure that Facebook’s policies are transparent, responsive, effective and are recognized as being those things.

Elliot is joining us from Google where he has been their VP Global Communications and Public Affairs since 2005. At Google, he broadened the company’s messaging from a focus on only product PR to include all aspects of corporate, financial, policy, philanthropic and internal communications. Before that, he served as a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a public policy think tank, as a professor at Columbia Business School and as SVP at Gap. Early on, he began his career as a Harvard-trained lawyer.

This is a really important role for us and one that we’ve been trying to find the right person for a while. Elliot’s role will be critical to helping us scale based on our culture that values transparency, openness and honest internal communications.

Elliot will be starting on __, although you may see him around the office before then. If you want to send him a note to congratulate him on joining, his email is __ and I’m sure he’d love to hear from you.


Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.