Facebook has suffered the first resignation of a top-flight executive since last month's controversial stock market flotation, adding to the headaches facing Mark Zuckerberg, who has seen the company's shares plummet since their debut.
Bret Taylor, chief technology officer, announced over the weekend that he was quitting to set up his own company with a senior Google engineer.
Silicon Valley experts have long predicted that Facebook's flotation could trigger a host of departures from the senior ranks who became millionaires overnight.
Mr Taylor's departure emerged amid reports that Facebook could ditch the Nasdaq stock market and move its shares on to the main New York Stock Exchange in protest at the debacle of its flotation last month. The company is known to have been furious about the technical glitches that marred its shares trading debut and has blamed Nasdaq. It has even appeared to suggest that the trading glitches contributed to the collapse in the share price since the float. Facebook floated its stock at $38 a share but they have tumbled to just over $30, wiping more than $20bn off the company's valuation.
If Facebook was to quit Nasdaq it would be a severe blow to the technology market, which has prided itself on being the world's leading technology exchange. On top of the threat of its most high-profile member quitting, Nasdaq also faces the prospect of a lawsuit from Morgan Stanley citing "reputational damage" arising from the float. That claim comes on top of the class action lawsuits being prepared by disgruntled investors over the way that the flotation was handled.
Mr Taylor has been a big figure in Facebook's new product developments such as Open Graph, which are seen as key to delivering revenue growth from its vast subscriber base.
Separately, Facebook agreed to pay $10m to charity to settle a lawsuit accusing it of violating users' rights to control the use of their own names and photographs.