San Francisco Sheryl Sandberg is stepping down from the management of Facebook group Meta. She announced that on Wednesday. Sandberg had led the company as chief Operating officer (COO) alongside company founder Mark Zuckerberg. She is considered one of the most influential women in the global business world.
The 52-year-old wants to remain on the company’s board of directors. Long-time meta manager Javier Olivan is to take over the COO post from Sandberg. The handover of the post is to take place formally in the autumn. Sandberg did not give an exact date. After the announcement, the price of the meta share initially fell by almost four percent, but recovered somewhat.
The manager joined Mark Zuckerberg’s company in 2008. Under her leadership, the former start-up became the most powerful social network on Earth with around three billion monthly active users in the world. Facebook Instagrammed about 80 percent of global Internet users outside of China use at least one of the company’s products – such as Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram. In the People’s Republic of China, Facebook’s applications are blocked.
When she took the job at Facebook, she had assumed that she would stay with the company for maybe five years. “Today – 14 years later – it is time for me to start a new chapter in my life,” Sandberg wrote. Over the next few months, she will organize her handover with Zuckerberg and leave the company in the fall. “I am honored to remain a member of Meta’s Board of Directors,” Sandberg wrote.
Mark Zuckerberg said: “Looking ahead, I have no plans to replace Sheryl’s role in our existing structure. I’m not sure if that would be possible, because she is a superstar who has defined the role of COO in his very own way.“
Zuckerberg announced that with the transition from Sandberg to Olivan, the position of COO at the company could be limited. Zuckerberg said: “I think Meta has reached a point where it makes sense for our product and business groups to be more closely connected, rather than organizing all business and operational functions separately from our products.” Zuckerberg had previously focused more on the products at Meta, while Sandberg had focused on the business.
Olivian announced that, unlike Sandberg, he would rather stay out of the public eye. “I don’t anticipate that my role will have the same high-profile aspect, as we already have other executives at Meta who are responsible for this work,” Olivian wrote.
Analyst Mark Shmulik of investment bank Bernstein wrote: “The management structure will change slightly with the departure of Sandberg, as the position of COO will become more “traditional” and less far-reaching.“
Leaving in a crisis phase
With the announced departure of Sandberg, a number of positions in the Meta Group have been filled. Chief of Staff Lori Goler will report directly to Zuckerberg. And the head of Instagram’s operations, Justin Osofsky, will report to close Zuckerberg confidant Chris Cox in the future.
Trained at the elite Harvard University, economist Sandberg first worked for the management consultancy McKinsey. Then she moved to the Ministry of Finance during the presidency of Bill Clinton, and finally to the search engine operator Google in 2001. At Google, the highly profitable advertising business led before she finally switched to Facebook.
Sandberg had made the promotion of women a focus of her work during her time at Facebook. In announcing her resignation, she wrote: “When I started on Facebook, I had a two-year-old son and a six-month-old daughter.“ The message to her at the time was that she couldn’t be a good mother and a good manager at the same time.
She had stepped in to prove the opposite. She wrote the book “Lean In”, in which she called on women to take leadership jobs and built a career network of the same name for women.
At the same time, she allowed the public to participate widely in her personal life. This also includes the fact that in 2015 she reported extensively on the death of her husband Dave Goldberg, who suffered from arrhythmia and collapsed on a treadmill. Sandberg spoke at length about how she dealt with the grief over Goldberg’s death. In 2017, she published a book entitled “Option B”, which deals with this issue.
Sandberg is leaving the Facebook group Meta in a crisis phase. The company has lost around half of its value on the stock exchange since September 2021. In the USA and in Europe, proceedings are underway against the company by competition authorities. Zuckerberg has declared an internal austerity course and stopped new hires, as the Handelsblatt learned.
Last year, the number of users of the Facebook group had fallen for the first time. Zuckerberg stressed that the company will push for new growth opportunities. This includes, above all, the construction of digital worlds in the metaverse. Last year, however, the company posted a loss of more than ten billion dollars in this area.