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Facebook makes top marketing hire

The social networking site has pulled in AOL veteran Chamath Paliihapitiya as vice president of product marketing and operations.

Facebook has hired Chamath Palihapitiya, a former AOL marketing executive to the post of Vice President of Product Marketing and Operations, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The 30-year-old Palihapitiya, who has been an investor at the Mayfield Fund venture capital firm since December 2005, will gradually make the transition out of his current job over the next two weeks before moving to his new role at Facebook.

Facebook, which still lags behind social networking leader MySpace in user numbers, has become a hotter Web property than ever since opening its service up to developers with its Facebook Platform initiative. But, as the Journal article notes, much of its advertising revenue still relies on a longstanding deal with Microsoft. Sources informed the newspaper that an internal advertising network and perhaps revenue-sharing with third-party companies using the Platform may be on the way.

The hire of Palihapitya follows other high-profile personnel acquisitions at Facebook, including IGN Entertainment veteran Mike Sheridan as chief financial officer and former executive Owen Van Natta as chief operating officer. The blogosphere has also been buzzing about Facebook's search for a stock options guru, taking it as a suggestion that the company may be exploring an initial public offering. Facebook representatives, however, have told us that the situation does not involve an IPO on the horizon.