Sheryl Sandberg is stepping down from Facebook’s meta

When Sheryl Sandberg first joined Facebook in March 2008, the tech startup had a CEO in his 20s, several hundred employees, a business model that advertisers didn’t quite understand, and a work culture that still bore its mark Origins of student housing. The company earned $150 million a year; 100 million people sign up every month.

Captivated by founder Mark Zuckerberg’s vision, Sandberg agreed to come on board as chief operating officer – becoming her deputy at what is now, 14 years later, one of the most powerful companies in the world. Today Facebook claims to have almost 80,000 employees; generates more than $100 billion in revenue annually; and hosts several billion monthly active users. Throughout its astronomical rise — and its recent stumbling blocks — Sandberg has been Facebook’s most visible advocate and defender, even more so than Zuckerberg himself.

Until now.

Sandberg announced Wednesday that she will soon be stepping down as COO of Facebook parent company Meta Platforms Inc., leaving behind a company hardly recognizable from the one she joined.

“When I took this job in 2008, I hoped I would stay in this role for five years,” Sandberg wrote in one lengthy review she posted – where else – on Facebook. “Fourteen years later, it’s time for me to write the next chapter of my life.

“I’m not exactly sure what the future will bring … but I know I’ll be more focused on my foundation and philanthropic work.”

Sandberg’s exit comes at a moment of upheaval for Meta, which is grappling with recent scandals and leaks while trying to embrace a nebulous new vision of social networking. It also comes amid speculation that Sandberg’s power within the company has been curtailed and that tensions between her and Zuckerberg have increased.

Sandberg told Zuckerberg about her plans to step down this weekend, according to a meta spokesperson. Her exit follows a similar move by Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer, who ceded from this position in April.

Sandberg said there will be a transition process over the next few months before she leaves in the fall. However, it will not be a complete exit; The outgoing executive is to remain on the Meta board.

Facebook did one extensive rebranding in 2021, the reorganization of its titular social platform, along with Instagram, WhatsApp and other subsidiaries, under a new umbrella conglomerate called Meta. The new name was a nod to the company’s growing interest in the “metaverse” – a trendy but still fairly abstract vision of the future of the internet that emphasizes virtual reality and interactive digital environments – but was also seen by some as an attempt to distract from an ever-growing list of controversies and allegations, let alone a core business that may be nearing maturity.

Sandberg has received criticism for this initial silence via the platform’s Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal in 2018, for example, and their slow response to concerns about Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In the fall of 2018, company insiders told The Wall Street Journal that Zuckerberg hired Sandberg to prevent more such scandals, leaving her in a difficult, thankless position where any failures are obvious to outside critics. Because Sandberg was responsible for public relations for landmine disposal, Zuckerberg was free to focus on strategic and technical issues.

Sandberg became “increasingly isolated” during Donald Trump’s presidency, according to the New York Times reported last summer: “Her role as deputy CEO was less secure as he rose to several other executives and her influence in Washington waned. … It felt like Facebook was no longer of a #1 and #2, but a #1 and many.”

She was also under investigation for reports that she tried to put pressure on the Daily Mail to kill an article about a restraining order a woman issued against Bobby Kotick, executive director of video game company Activision Blizzard and Sandberg’s former boyfriend. Kotick has faced with allegations that he created a toxic, sexist work environment at Activision and had known about allegations of sexual misconduct within the company for years.

“Sandberg leaves behind a shameful legacy,” the Real Facebook Oversight Board, a watch group focused on the company, said in a statement Wednesday. “Their failed leadership enabled Facebook and its platforms to become the engine of disinformation that it is today.”

In February, the company reported that the number of its daily users shrank for the first time.

Sandberg’s public image was shaped in large part by her 2013 book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, which presented a vision of career-oriented feminism that was alternately heralded as empowering and criticized as overly corporate. She joined Facebook four years before the social network went public, having previously worked at Google.

The unexpected death of her late husband Dave Goldberg – CEO of SurveyMonkey, another web platform – formed the basis a second book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy.

Since then she has engaged to Tom Bernthal, founder of a consulting agency in Los Angeles. “As Tom and I are getting married this summer,” her post-Facebook life will include “parenting.” [their] Extended family of five children,” Sandberg wrote in her announcement.

Sandberg was a former member of the Clinton administration who also had a relationship with Hillary Clinton

floated as a potential Treasury secretary were the latest to be elected president – although Sandberg slammed those rumors and claimed she was “very happy” on Facebook.

in the his own statementwhich was also posted to Facebook, Zuckerberg viewed her departure as the end of an era.

“When [Sandberg] came to me in 2008, I was only 23 and knew very little about running a business,” the billionaire founder wrote. “Sheryl designed our ad business, hired great people, forged our management culture and taught me how to run a business. She created opportunities for millions of people around the world, and she deserves credit for so much of what Meta is today.”

Zuckerberg said he has no plans to directly replace Sandberg’s role – “I’m not sure that would be possible,” he said, adding that the company is now at a point where it makes less sense to explicitly separating business operations from product those – but that Javier Olivan, its chief growth officer, will assume the title of COO.

Olivan “will now lead our integrated advertising and business products and will continue to lead our infrastructure, integrity, analytics, marketing, business development and growth teams,” Zuckerberg said. Olivan’s current responsibilities include the company’s “growth efforts, integrity, advertising and business platform, commerce and social impact efforts,” he said company bio.

The Associated Press was used in compiling this report.

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