After 14 years at Facebook, COO Sheryl Sandberg has announced that she is leaving the company. One of the most powerful women in the technology industry, the executive has established herself as number two in the company’s hierarchy of command – second only to Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Meta.
Sandberg is also known as “the face of Facebook” for having represented the company during its main scandals, such as the data leak of 50 million users of the social network, misused by the British consultancy Cambridge Analytica. The news of her departure has been reverberating since Wednesday (1st).
Meta’s shares fell 4% after the change was announced, which comes amid a slowdown in the group’s ad revenue.
Second Sandberg, she now wants to focus on her foundation and philanthropic work. The reason for her departure would also be the fatigue of the work that the position requires.
At the same time, there is information that she is being investigated for allegedly using the company’s money to pay for her wedding (she has been engaged since 2020), according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
A spokesperson for Meta told the newspaper that this investigation has nothing to do with the executive’s resignation as COO.
Either way, his departure came as a surprise to many who work with the company. Here’s what we know so far:
According to sources close to Sheryl Sandberg interviewed by the WSJ, she had been complaining for years that she had become something of a “punching bag” for the company’s problems. She even questioned, for example, if a man would go through the same questions that she faces.
The decision to leave the company is voluntary, according to these same sources. And, despite leaving the position, Sandberg will remain on the board of Meta.
The company’s recent name change has to do with the change in the focus of the business, which is no longer on social networks and started to be on the construction of virtual worlds, the so-called metaverse.
In this new model, the company must rely less on revenue from advertising, one of Sandberg’s specialties. Currently, this revenue represents 98% of Meta’s annual revenue.
career and controversies
Sandberg had been with the company since 2008, when she was hired by a Silicon Valley competitor, Google. In her early years, she was hailed as a representative of women in business, giving lectures and even publishing a book on the topic.
Around 2016, rumors even started about a possible entry into politics. But those aspirations quickly ended when that year’s US presidential election put Facebook at the center of the debate.
At the time, the company was accused of not having fought Russian interference in the dissemination of fake news on the platform, which, according to some political analysts, would have resulted in Donald Trump’s victory.
In addition, in March 2018, The Guardian and The New York Times revealed a scandal: the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica had illegally accessed the data of millions of Facebook users. The company used some of this data to influence elections, as in Donald Trump’s digital campaign.
In both cases, Sandberg was found by Zuckerberg to be the culprit, according to multiple reports at the time. Therefore, she was chosen to represent Facebook and testify before Congress in Washington, becoming an easy target for criticism among the public and the press.
Who will enter the place?
Meta’s new COO is Spanish Javier Olivan, known as “Javi” among the company’s employees, according to information from The Verge.
In the past, Zuckerberg has referred to him as “one of the most influential people in the history of Facebook”.
Unlike Sandberg, Olivan, who has been with the company for 14 years, has stayed out of the spotlight — and, he says, should continue to do so.
In the announcement of your promotion to the position, oliver stated that he “does not foresee” that his position will have the same role of “facing the public” as had his predecessor.
When he joined Facebook, the executive’s mission was to expand the social network’s customer base beyond the United States. Since then, he has taken on roles in marketing, analytics, infrastructure and corporate development.
Olivan even pointed out that one of Facebook’s challenges was to work on cheaper and basic smartphones, with slower internet networks, within the aspect of global expansion. In 2014, he told Time magazine that he forced his employees to use bad smartphones: “they need to feel this pain.”