New York Times
February 22, 2011, 1:22 pm
Facebook has hired Alexandre Hohagen, the top Google executive in Latin America, to be its vice president for sales in the region, the company said in a press release issued in São Paulo last week. Mr. Hohagen had helped to establish Google’s Latin American offices some six years ago and later served as general manager of Google Brazil and then as vice president of Google Latin America.
Facebook said the appointment of Mr. Hohagen underscored its commitment to the region and said it planned to build a local advertising team there.
Brazil has plenty of significance in the battle between Google and Facebook. It is one of the few large markets where Google’s social network, Orkut, is still larger than Facebook’s. Facebook has been expanding aggressively overseas. In July, it pulled even with Orkut in India. (Facebook is still struggling in other countries, like Japan, but its rivals there, and in other countries, are home-grown.)
Facebook has been growing at a healthy rate in Brazil. As of December, it had 12.4 million users, according to comScore. But it trailed Orkut, which had 32.7 million users, by a nearly 3-to-1 ratio. A year earlier, Orkut’s Brazilian audience was seven times larger than Facebook’s.
“Millions of people in Latin America are using Facebook daily to connect and share with their friends and families, which is an integral part of the Latin American culture,” Mr. Hohagen said in the press release. “Facebook’s sales team for Latin America will be able to help companies here navigate this unprecedented reach and engagement to create campaigns that will impact their businesses in meaningful ways.”
Facebook declined to explain its push in Latin America in more detail, but it was safe to assume that a big part of Mr. Hohagen’s mission would be to close the gap with Orkut in Latin America’s largest country.