Sheryl Sandberg Touts Facebook's Role in Stimulating Economy

COO Also Announces Small Business Boost for European Businesses

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On the eve of an expected IPO filing, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg held forth on its role as a worldwide job and revenue engine for other businesses at the DLD Conference in Munich on Tuesday.

Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg

In her talk, Ms. Sandberg announced the Small Business Boost: $130 in free advertising to 50,000 small and midsize businesses in the U.K., France, Germany, Spain and Italy. The program is similar to a U.S. initiative announced in September, in which 200,000 small businesses were to receive a $50 credit.

Ms. Sandberg cited a Deloitte study released today that aims to quantify Facebook's economic effects in Europe. It states that the company's ecosystem supported 232,000 jobs in 2011, generated €32 billion in gross revenue and had a total impact on the region of €15.3 billion. The figures take into account increased sales by businesses that use their Facebook pages for marketing, the app ecosystem that Facebook supports (which Ms. Sandberg noted is especially strong in Germany) and Facebook's role in boosting demand for technology.

"This is the stuff that will drive our economy," Ms. Sandberg said. "Jobs are going to be added one at a time by small companies and by big ones that use social media and other technologies to drive business."

As examples of Facebook's acting as an engine for job creation and revenue growth, Ms. Sandberg cited Zynga and its 2,800 worldwide employees, as well as the German social-games developer Wooga, which launched its first game with a staff of five but has become the third-largest game developer on Facebook.

Ms. Sandberg also mentioned the local Bavarian clothing retailer Trachten Angermaier, which has credited Facebook with increasing its sales and enabling it to make eight hires last year.

She pointed out a recent University of Maryland study that estimates that Facebook and other social-media companies were responsible for 200,000 new U.S. jobs last year.

Facebook is working with various local agencies and groups, including the French Ministry of Labor, Germany's Bitcom and the U.K.'s Next Gen Skills, to administer the Small Business Boost.

The DLD Conference could be Ms. Sandberg's last speaking engagement for a while. Facebook is widely expected to file its S-1 for an IPO as soon as this week and will enter a "quiet period," during which its executives' public comments will be restricted.

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