Meta Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg will step down in the fall, she announced Wednesday, telling Forbes she has “full faith and confidence” in the tech firm but chose to end her 14-year tenure as one of its leaders because she wants to make philanthropic work her “top priority.”
Sandberg announced her departure in a Facebook post: She said she plans to spend more time with her family in addition to focusing on philanthropic endeavors like Lean In, a group co-founded by Sandberg to support women in the workplace.
In an interview with Forbes, Sandberg said she has enjoyed her time at Meta but “this is not a job that leaves a lot of room for much else,” and “I want some more control over what I do with my own time on a daily basis.”
Sandberg plans to start transitioning her direct reports at Meta over the summer and will depart the company at some point in the fall, she said.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post Chief Growth Officer Javier Olivan will serve as Meta’s new COO, but Zuckerberg doesn’t expect Olivan to fill Sandberg’s exact role, partly because “she’s a superstar who defined the COO role in her own unique way.”
Sandberg—who will remain on Meta’s board of directors—told Forbes she’s confident in the company’s future and believes it has “a very strong business both in the immediate and in the long term,” including its new focus on virtual metaverse technology.
“When I started talking to Mark at Facebook, I had joined Facebook the year before, but I didn’t really believe people would put their real selves and all their pictures and all their lives online and share it with other people. And it’s transformed who we are,” Sandberg told Forbes. “And can the Metaverse do this? I think so, and I think particularly so under Mark’s leadership.”
Sandberg came to Meta—which was previously known as Facebook—in March 2008, after working for Google and the Clinton-era Treasury Department. Over the last 14 years, she has helped grow the company into one of the tech industry’s most influential players. Zuckerberg said Wednesday that Sandberg met him when he was 23 and “barely knew anything running a company,” adding the outgoing Meta COO “architected our ads business, hired great people, forged our management culture, and taught me how to run a company.” Sandberg has also been a vocal advocate for women, including through her 2013 book Lean In, in which she encourages women to advocate for themselves at work and at home. As Zuckerberg’s deputy, Sandberg has been tied to some of Meta’s recent controversies, including allegations the company didn’t go far enough to fight the spread of misinformation ahead of the 2016 election. Following reports that Russian trolls worked to suppress Black voter turnout via targeted social media posts, Sandberg acknowledged to Congress in 2018 the company should “do more” to combat false information.
$1.6 billion. That’s Sandberg’s net worth, according to Forbes’ estimates, making her the world’s 1,823rd-wealthiest person.
Sandberg came under fire in April after the Wall Street Journal reported she pushed the online version of the Daily Mail not to publish an article about her former boyfriend, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. Sandberg reportedly worked with Facebook and Activision employees as well as outside advisors to press the tabloid in 2016 and 2019 not to report on a 2014 temporary restraining order that Kotick’s former girlfriend purportedly obtained against him. The outlet did not end up running the story. Facebook launched a review of Sandberg’s actions to investigate whether she violated company protocol, sources close to her told the Journal, but in a statement to the Journal, Meta said Sandberg didn’t use her influence at the company to pressure the Daily Mail.
Meta’s Sheryl Sandberg Pressured Daily Mail to Drop Bobby Kotick Reporting (Wall Street Journal)
Facebook parent Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg is stepping down (CNBC)
Top executive Sheryl Sandberg is leaving Facebook (Washington Post)
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