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Senior Meta ads exec departs amid efficiency drive

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Meta Platforms' business group is seen in Brussels

By Katie Paul

(Reuters) - A veteran Meta advertising product executive will leave the company in May, according to an internal announcement seen by Reuters, amid a months-long pruning of projects and staff that Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has dubbed the "year of efficiency."

Dan Levy, currently the social media giant's vice president of business messaging, said in a post to Meta's internal social network on Monday that he wanted to focus on family after losing a child to leukemia.

"I made this decision slowly (over the last 2+ years) and then all of a sudden," he wrote.

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A Meta spokesperson confirmed Levy's departure and said business messaging would remain a strategic priority and area of investment for the company this year.

Levy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Levy has been at Meta for 14 years. The business messaging project he heads has been flagged by Zuckerberg for growth potential, although he was replaced last year as overall head of ad and business products.

Previously, Levy ran Meta's ads and business products division, now called Monetization. He was replaced in that role last year by John Hegeman, another long-time executive who had managed ads product under Levy and, in his new role, became Levy's boss.

That larger unit oversaw Meta's adaptation to Apple Inc's iOS privacy changes in 2021, a costly disruption that cut Meta's access to the valuable user data around which it had built its targeted advertising business.

The division has tried to build in-app commerce features to make up for that "signal loss," while also using artificial intelligence to improve ad targeting precision, with mixed success.

Executives see business messaging as another part of the solution, as it could finally monetize the popular chat app WhatsApp, which Meta bought for $22 billion in 2014 but has yet to produce significant revenue.

Zuckerberg has said the business line - in which brands pay to use Meta's WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram chat services to sell products and manage customer interactions - is likely to be the company's "next major pillar" of sales growth.

Levy's departure comes amid a difficult season for Meta, which last week announced a second major round of layoffs tied to a restructuring plan to kill off lower-priority projects and "flatten" layers of middle management.

Another ads VP on the sales side, Michelle Klein, also announced this week that she was leaving. She led a marketing unit of around 1,000 people and steered the company's rebranding from Facebook to Meta, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Meta likewise confirmed her departure. Klein did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Katie Paul; Editing by Leslie Adler)