Sheryl Sandberg, the longtime second-in-command at Facebook (now Meta), is stepping down as chief operating officer, leaving behind a complicated legacy at the world’s first dominant social network.
Sandberg made her resignation official today through a post on Facebook. “When I took this job in 2008, I hoped I would be in this role for five years,” Sandberg wrote. “Fourteen years later, it is time for me to write the next chapter of my life. I am not entirely sure what the future will bring—I have learned no one ever is.”
Meta has grown into an advertising juggernaut since Sandberg joined, when it had almost no ad revenue. In 2021, Meta brought in $115 billion from advertising, and it runs a portfolio of apps that reach 3.6 billion people a month. When Sandberg joined, the company was simply Facebook, but it bought Instagram in 2012 and went public. It also owns Messenger and WhatsApp.
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Last year, CEO Mark Zuckerberg renamed the company Meta. This is part of his plan to focus on services for the coming “metaverse,” which is supposed to be the next-generation computing platform, combining virtual and augmented reality, and it is partly accessible through devices like Meta Oculus gaming goggles and camera-equipped sunglasses.
Sandberg will remain on the board of directors, Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post on Wednesday. "You've architected our ads business, hired great people, forged our management culture, and taught me how to run a company," Zuckerberg said of Sandberg.
Javier Olivan, Meta’s chief growth officer, will step into the chief operating officer role, Zuckerberg said. But the role will be different from the one Sandberg crafted as the No.2, where she was initially hired as the so-called “adult in the room” to help guide Zuckerberg, who at the time of her hiring was only 23 years old.
“Javi will become our next Chief Operating Officer since he will now lead our integrated ads and business products in addition to continuing to lead our infrastructure, integrity, analytics, marketing, corporate development and growth teams,” Zuckerberg said. “But this role will be different from what Sheryl has done. It will be a more traditional COO role where Javi will be focused internally and operationally, building on his strong track record of making our execution more efficient and rigorous.”
Now, Meta is restructuring much of the company’s leadership. Meta lost one of its longest-serving ad leaders, Carolyn Everson, who was the head of global business group, last year after she joined Instacart.