Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg Says Leaving Company After 14 Years, Javier Olivan to Replace Her - world cultures

Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg Says Leaving Company After 14 Years, Javier Olivan to Replace Her


Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Meta, whose close partnership with CEO Mark Zuckerberg has fueled the growth of the world’s largest social network, is leaving the company after 14 years, she said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

The announcement initially sent the social media company’s shares down 4 percent, but the stock nearly settled after hours of trading.

She wrote, “When I took this job in 2008, I hoped to be in this position for five years. Fourteen years later, it was time to write the next chapter of my life.”

In a separate Facebook post, Zuckerberg said Chief Growth Officer Javier Olivan will take over as chief operating officer, although he added that he does not plan to replace Sandberg’s role directly within the company’s current structure.

“I think Meta has reached the point where it makes more sense for our product and business suites to be more integrated, rather than organizing all of our business functions and operations separately from our products,” he said.

Olivan has worked at Meta for over 14 years and led teams dealing with Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.

Sandberg’s departure marks the end of an era for Meta, which has shifted focus toward hardware products and the “metaverse” after years of scandals over privacy violations and the spread of conspiratorial content on its platforms, as well as stabilizing user growth on its main app, Facebook.

Sandberg, the second-in-command to founder Zuckerberg, who was 23 when he hired her, is one of the company’s most prominent executives and a key architect of the often-criticized advertising-based business model.

With her management experience and knowledge of the then-nascent digital ad industry, she transformed Facebook from a bustling startup into a revenue giant, while also positioning herself as the face of feminism in corporate America.

At the time, Facebook was generating $272 million (approximately Rs 2,100 crore) in revenue, for a net loss of $56 million (approximately Rs 430 crore), according to regulatory filings. By 2011, a year before the company’s initial public offering, its revenue had jumped to $3.7 billion (approximately Rs 28,700 crore) on $1 billion (approximately Rs 7,800 crore) in earnings.

Meta ended 2021 with revenues of $118 billion (~Rs 9,15,600 crore) and profits of $39.4 billion (~ Rs 3,05,700 crore).

Sandberg said in her post that she will continue to serve on Meta’s board of directors after leaving the company in the fall.

When asked about her next steps, she told Reuters she is focusing on philanthropy at a “critical moment for women”.

“We’ve hired a lot of great leaders. I feel really good about that. The next leadership team is ready to move the company forward,” she said, referring to Chief Business Officer Marne Levine and Head of Global Affairs Nick Clegg by name.

strong defender

Sandberg has been a staunch defender of Facebook over his many controversies, continually arguing that executives were learning from their mistakes and sharpening the company’s tools to better monitor harmful content.

She told Reuters last year that she and Zuckerberg were held accountable for fixing systems that had failed, while dismissing reports that she was losing power at the company.

“People love headlines about corporate drama, and I think it’s fair to say they especially like headlines about the marginalization of women,” she said in a January 2021 interview.

Sandberg’s tenure covered Facebook’s original settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission in 2011 for privacy violations and a subsequent $5 billion (about Rs 38,800 crore) settlement for violations of the previous deal.

She and Zuckerberg were among those then-Commissioner Rohit Chopra said they should have faced further investigation over their roles in the company’s behaviour.

Under her leadership, the company was shocked in 2018 that British consultancy Cambridge Analytica improperly obtained data on millions of its users in the United States to target election ads.

That same year, United Nations human rights investigators said the use of Facebook played a major role in spreading hate speech that fueled violence against the Rohingya community in Myanmar.

She came under additional criticism when she told Reuters early last year that she believed the events around the January 6 attack on the US Capitol were largely organized on other platforms, although researchers have identified similar activity on Facebook as well.

Whistleblower Frances Hogan late last year accused the social media giant of repeatedly prioritizing profit over clamping down on hate speech and misinformation, and said her lawyers have filed at least eight complaints with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Prior to joining Facebook, Sandberg was Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google and Chief of Staff of the US Treasury under former President Bill Clinton.

Sandberg graduated from Harvard University and is the author of several books, including the 2013 feminist manifesto Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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