Chandlee takes top sales job at Facebook

Facebook has hired Yahoo! UK and Ireland commercial director Blake Chandlee as its UK sales director and first employee outside the US.

Chandlee resigned from Yahoo! late last week, as revealed exclusively on Mediaweek.co.uk, to lead the UK operation of the burgeoning social network, based at its office in Soho, London.

He is understood to be taking some time off before starting at Facebook.

Chandlee's role will be to build the UK sales team and work directly with advertisers and agencies to develop commercial opportunities on the site, according to sources.

In a statement, Yahoo! said: "Blake Chandlee has decided to leave Yahoo! UK & Ireland. We are already in the process of recruiting his replacement. In the interim, Glen Drury, vice-president Northern Europe, and Javier Zapatero, vice-president of sales for Europe, will assume direct responsibility for our UK media sales operations.

"Together with a world class media sales team, Yahoo! is in a strong position to drive the further growth of its UK sales operations."

Yahoo! hired Chandlee as category development officer for consumer packaged goods in October 2003, before promoting him to commercial director for UK and Ireland in 2005.

It is believed that Chandlee is keen to work for an emerging brand and Facebook fits the bill, having yet to take commercial advantage of its dominant position in the UK marketplace.

Facebook has enjoyed a high rate of growth this year and August saw it overtake MySpace as the most popular social network in the UK, according to research firm Nielsen//NetRatings.

Facebook attracted 6.5 million unique users in August 2006 compared to MySpace's 6.4 million, Nielsen//NetRatings revealed.

Facebook is also believed to have hired Netanel Jacobsson as director of international business development, also based in London. Jacobsson, a director at Beijing-based web browser Maxthon, knows the internet industry, having worked in business development at AOL.

Facebook was set up by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004 as a networking site for students, but it is in the last 12 months that the social network has enjoyed rapid growth, having scrapped its student-only policy in September 2006.

Microsoft supplies ad listings and search for Facebook in the US, but no such deal has been struck in the UK.

Chandlee and Facebook were not available for comment as Media Week went to press.

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