Sheryl Sandberg will step down as the COO of Meta Platforms after 14 years as its second-ranking executive, where she helped scale Facebook into the social media juggernaut it is today. Sandberg will leave her post as the company’s No. 2 leader in the fall after spending the next few months working with founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to transition her direct reports. She will retain a seat on Meta’s board.
Zuckerberg called the change an “end of an era” and said that he doesn’t plan to replace Sandberg’s exact role in the company’s structure. His current chief growth officer Javier Olivan, already one of the company’s most powerful but lesser-known executives, will take over as COO in what Zuckerberg says is a “more traditional” COO role. That move, combined with Meta’s chief lawyer and HR executive now reporting directly to Zuckerberg, further consolidates power under his control.
More recently, Zuckerberg has rebranded the company from Facebook to Meta and is investing heavily in taking its social technology beyond 2D to building the metaverse through virtual and augmented reality. Sandberg joined the company in 2008 to help the then-23-year-old Zuckerberg navigate the path to an IPO and build an ads business, which she has led since. Prior to that, she’d spent six years at Google building up its online sales channels, for AdWords and AdSense. At Meta, the ad business has in recent years been under assault on all sides as Apple and regulators crack down on Facebook’s ability to target ads, contributing to a sharp decline in its revenue growth and Meta’s stock price.
Sandberg’s departure has been a long time coming, according to numerous people who have worked with her. Her leaving “will be an incredibly non-shocking departure to basically everyone inside the company,” Drew Pusateri, a recently departed member of Meta’s communications department, said in a tweet Wednesday.
According to current and former executives, Sandberg has become less involved in the nuts and bolts of Meta’s ads business in recent years relative to earlier parts of Facebook’s history, though she’s remained the public voice of the business on company earnings calls. Meanwhile, she has steadily been elevating leaders on her team to more senior roles, namely by promoting Marne Levine to chief business officer and more recently elevating policy chief Nick Clegg to the role of president reporting to Zuckerberg.
Sandberg notified Zuckerberg of her intention to step down over the past weekend, according to a person familiar with the matter. Though she was recently accused of leveraging her position to squash negative reporting about her ex-boyfriend and Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, her decision to leave Meta was unrelated to that scandal, the person added, saying that Facebook’s internal review of the matter had recently been closed.
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