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Sheryl Sandberg steps down from Facebook’s Meta

Sheryl Sandberg steps down from Facebook’s Meta

Sheryl Sandberg steps down from Facebook’s Meta

Sheryl Sandberg, the leader of Facebook’s business side since its earliest days, is stepping down from her role as chief operating officer of parent company Meta Platforms Inc., she announced Wednesday.

As COO, — the No. 2 position behind only Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, at one of the most powerful tech companies in the world — Sandberg oversaw the construction of an advertising colossus that generated $118 billion in revenues last year. Her exit comes at a moment of flux for Meta, which has struggled with recent scandals and leaks while also attempting to pivot toward a nebulous new vision of social networking.

“When I took this job in 2008, I hoped I would be in this role for five years,” Sandberg wrote in a lengthy retrospective she posted — where else — on Facebook. “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, but I know it will include focusing more on my foundation and philanthropic work.”

Sandberg said there would be a transition process over the next few months before she departs in the fall. It won’t be a complete exit, though; Sandberg is slated to remain on Meta’s board of directors.

Facebook undertook a sweeping rebrand in 2021, reorganizing its titular social platform as well as Instagram, WhatsApp and other subsidiaries under a new umbrella conglomerate called Meta. The new name was a nod to the company’s growing interest in the “metaverse” — a trendy yet still quite abstract vision of the internet’s future which emphasizes virtual reality and interactive digital environments — but was also seen by some as an effort to distract from an ever-lengthening list of controversies and allegations and a core business that may be approaching maturity.

“Sandberg leaves behind a shameful legacy,” the Real Facebook Oversight Board, a watchdog group focused on the company, said in a statement Wednesday. “Her failed leadership enabled Facebook and its platforms to become the engine of disinformation that it is today.”

In February, the company reported that its number of daily users shrank for the first time ever.

Sandberg’s public image has been shaped in large part by her 2013 book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead,” which put forth a vision of career-centric feminism that’s been in turns heralded as empowering and criticized as overly corporate. She joined Facebook in 2008, four years before the social network went public, after having previously worked at Google.

In his own statementalso posted on Facebook, Zuckerberg deemed her exit the end of an era.

“When [Sandberg] joined me in 2008, I was only 23 years old and I barely knew anything about running a company,” the billionaire founder wrote. “Sheryl architected our ads business, hired great people, forged our management culture, and taught me how to run a company. She created opportunities for millions of people around the world, and she deserves the credit for so much of what Meta is today.”

Zuckerberg said that he doesn’t plan on directly replacing Sandberg’s role — “I’m not sure that would be possible,” he said, adding that the company is now at a place where it makes less sense to explicitly delineate business operations from product ones — but that Javier Olivan, his chief growth officer, will take the title of COO.

Olivan “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. Olivan’s current purview includes the company’s “growth efforts, integrity, ads and business platform, commerce and social impact efforts,” according to his company bio.

According to a Meta spokesperson, Sandberg told Zuckerberg this weekend about her plans to step aside. Her exit comes on the heels of a similar move by Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer, who stepped down from that position in April.

The Associated Press was used in compiling this report.

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