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Management shuffle for Facebook Places

After overseeing launch of Facebook Groups, Justin Shaffer moves formally to head of company's Facebook Places product. His predecessor takes over other mobile initiatives.

Facebook's been launching lots of new products and making big changes to existing ones recently, and in conjunction the company has been moving around some of its high-profile employees to new roles.

CNET learned from several sources that Justin Shaffer, the Facebook product manager who most recently spearheaded the overhaul of Facebook's Groups, is now in charge of the company's Facebook Places geolocation service--something that was speculated this summer when Facebook acquired his "check-in" start-up, Hot Potato. Facebook confirmed the new role on Thursday.

Michael Sharon, who had been in charge of Places, will move on to different roles within Facebook's mobile team, which Facebook sees as a major strategic priority--the future of the company, really--going forward. Sharon joined Facebook in 2008 after co-founding an early geolocation service called Socialight.

Chris Cox, Facebook vice president of product, said he's thoroughly satisfied with the Places overhaul. "I think five years from now we'll look back, and (we'll consider that) one of the big, monolithic, important things we did this year was get Groups right," he told CNET. But the successful launch and Shaffer's subsequent move to Places do not mean that Facebook's through with it, Cox said. "We see everything as like 2 percent done. Groups is among them."

One recent high-profile arrival at Facebook who hasn't yet been formally assigned a role within the company is Sam Lessin, the CEO of Dropio, which Facebook just acquired and will shut down next month. "We're still sort of figuring that one out," Cox said of Lessin. "We just think Sam thinks about the future in a very sophisticated way, in a very principled way, especially the sort of economics of information that govern the business decisions that go in the platform."