Facebook, Inc. (FB)  

​Facebook Hires Key Executive to Develop Messenger Platform

Rebecca McClay | FlashRatings | Monday, September 19, 2016 2:28 PM EDT
Facebook Inc. (FB) has hired an ex-Yahoo Inc. technology executive to help it develop the company’s Messenger app, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing “people familiar with the situation.”

Anand Chandrasekaran, who has experience in Silicon Valley and ties to India, will have a global leadership role in developing the text-messaging service, which, with more than 1 billion users, is becoming increasingly crucial to Facebook’s social media strategy.

Facebook has not made an official announcement on the hire, but is expected to do so this week. Analysts did not react directly to the report.

Facebook is focused on improving Messenger’s mobile features. Chandrasekara, who also previously worked for India telecom Bharti Airtel and ecommerce company Snapdeal, has significant experience in mobile design that Facebook hopes can benefit its Messenger platform.

Facebook reported second-quarter earnings in late July that easily beat analyst projections with its soaring ad revenue, and the popular Messenger platform is poised to generate even more advertising opportunities.

Five analysts have reported on FB in the past 30 days, with all five issuing positive ratings. Their median price target is $159 per share, representing a 22% upside from recent trading prices.

Among them, Citigroup maintained a “buy” rating on FB on Sept. 19 while increasing its price target to $158 from $148 per share. On Sept. 7, Morgan Stanley maintained an “overweight” rating while increasing its price target to $160 from $150 per share, noting Facebook’s growing user base as giving it a solid position for attracting ad revenue.

“FB’s growing base of engaged users gives it more ad impression opportunities and data to serve higher quality ads,” Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a note. “We see a 26% upside and view FB as our top pick in online advertising.”