Sheryl Sandberg, whose 14-year run at Facebook was marked by record sales and a string of controversies, is stepping down as chief operating officer of Meta Platforms Inc.
“Today, I am sharing the news that after 14 years, I will be leaving Meta,” Sandberg said in a Facebook post Wednesday.
In an interview with Bloomberg News, Facebook’s No. 2 executive said her decision didn’t come lightly “but it’s been 14 years. I want to make more room to do more philanthropically, to do more with my foundation.”
“It’s the end of an era. After 14 years, my good friend and partner Sheryl Sandberg is stepping down as COO of Meta,” Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a separate post.
Sandberg, 52, one of the most recognized faces in tech, helped transform the company into a multibillion-dollar advertising powerhouse valued at $524 billion, will remain on the board of Meta
the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, the company said.
Sandberg played a crucial role in transforming the social media giant into an advertising powerhouse that generated nearly $120 billion in revenue last year. She authored the best-selling “Lean In” in 2013 that led to a national conversation on women in the workplace. But she took her lumps along with Zuckerberg for Facebook’s numerous privacy and policy missteps over the years, leading to repeated vows by both to clean up Facebook’s ecosystem to assuage consumers and regulators.
Javier Olivan will succeed Sandberg as COO when she formally steps down in the fall, though Zuckerberg said his role would not be as substantial as the one Sandberg has played through the years.
“Looking forward, I don’t plan to replace Sheryl’s role in our existing structure. I’m not sure that would be possible since she’s a superstar who defined the COO role in her own unique way,” he wrote, before adding that Olivan’s task “will be a more traditional COO role.”
Sandberg’s move “allows Meta to focus on optimization and efficiency as they remain under tremendous pressure and dangerous competition” from the likes of Apple Inc.
and Alphabet Inc.’s Google
says Eric Schiffer, chairman of Reputation Management Consultants. “Zuckerberg will gain far more power at Meta, with Sandberg out of the picture. Sandberg’s leave derives from a desperate need for more significant product innovation, integration and optimization to stay competitive at a time of real and present competitive danger.”
“Sheryl Sandberg had an enormous impact on Facebook, Meta, and the broader business world. She helped Facebook build a world-class ad-buying platform and develop groundbreaking ad formats, which enabled the company to become the second largest digital ad business in the world behind Google,” Insider Intelligence analyst Debra Aho Williamson said. “However, Facebook also faced huge scandals under her watch, including the 2016 election, the Cambridge Analytica privacy debacle in 2018, and the Capitol riots that took place after the 2020 election. And in 2022, Meta is facing a slowdown in user growth and ad revenue that is now testing the business foundation that the company was built on. The company needs to find a new way forward, and perhaps this was the best time for Sandberg to depart.”
Facebook shares fell after the news hit just before the close of markets, pushing the stock to a daily decline of more than 2%. The company, which is pivoting to the metaverse, starts trading under the ticker symbol META on June 9.