Facebook has hired Amin Zoufonoun, Google’s director of corporate development, hinting at a more aggressive acquisition strategy in the face of its rival’s recent buying sprees.
Zoufonoun will lead the Palo Alto, Calif.-based social networking company’s mergers and acquisitions team as the two companies compete for talent and pursue start-up companies.
This development could signify Facebook’s push towards more aggressive acquisitions, intensifying its growing challenge to Google as the popularity of its site grows and advertising dollars shift toward social media. In 2010, Facebook became the most-visited in the U.S., displacing Google.com., according to Experian Hitwise.
In the past, Facebook has mainly pursued smaller start-ups for the talent at the companies. The company completed ten deals in last year, including Chai Labs and HotPotato, a location service.
Now the company is armed with deeper pockets to pursue more acquisitions, having recently raised $1.5 billion via a private offering to overseas investors, giving the private company a valuation of about $50 billion. But Facebook will need to be aggressive to acquire choice startups, especially against rival Google, which by comparison bought 48 companies last year.
Earlier this month, Google said that it plans to acquire up to 50 companies during the next year in a concerted effort to expand in mobile and other technologies, even as other tech giants maneuver to snap up promising start-ups. Google plans to target smaller innovative companies and start-ups which can provide new sources of revenue, technology and engineering talent.
Zoufonoun is not the first Google executive that Facebook has poached, as rivalry between the two companies has intensified. The company’s current chief operating officer, mobile chief, and vice president of advertising and global operations are all former Google executives.
While at Google, Zoufonoun was “mainly focused on strategy and deal execution, including evaluation, negotiating and executing Google’s mergers, acquisitions and investments,” according to his LinkedIn profile. He also mentioned that he worked directly on “key strategic acquisitions and investments” such as Feedburner, On2 and Grandcentral, known as Google Voice, and that is he is an inventor of several Google patent applications.