After working at Meta for 14 years, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg is stepping down from her role, she announced on Wednesday.
Following this announcement, the social media platform’s shares were down 4%, per Reuters.
Facebook’s parent company saw explosive growth under her leadership, but that hasn’t prevented her from being involved in controversy.
Sandberg became the face of many of Facebook’s scandals, including “Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election, the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal and most recently the leaked document trove known as the Facebook Files,” wrote Axios reporter Sara Fischer.
What did Sheryl Sandberg say in her exit letter?
In a lengthy Facebook post, Sandberg reflected on her partnership with Mark Zuckerberg.
“He was just 23 and I was already 38 when we met, but together we have been through the massive ups and downs of running this company, as well as his marriage to the magnificent Priscilla, the sorrow of their miscarriages and the joy of their childbirths, the sudden loss of Dave, my engagement to Tom, and so much more,” she said, calling Zuckerberg a “true visionary and a caring leader.”
Sandberg’s husband unexpectedly passed away in 2015 from cardiac arrhythmia. Two years later, she wrote about coping with his death in the book “Option B,” according to CNBC.
In her post, the billionaire COO described the process of building Facebook from the ground up, and the commitment it took to get there.
As soon as she joined Facebook, Sandberg said that she “asked Mark for three things — that we would sit next to each other, that he would meet with me one-on-one every week, and that in those meetings he would give me honest feedback when he thought I messed something up. Mark said yes to all three but added that the feedback would have to be mutual.”
Sandberg said that they have kept that promise to this day.
The mom of two also described the “challenges women face in the workplace” and said that Zuckerberg stood by her. “My hope was to make this a bit easier for others and help more women believe they can and should lead,” she said.
Her passion for helping other women took the front seat when her 2010 TEDTalk became a success, setting her up to co-write the 2013 book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” with Nell Scovell, encouraging women to be more assertive at work and at home.
Pointing to the future, Sandberg noted that she only wanted to be in the role for five years and she’s ready to start the next chapter, which will include “focusing more on my foundation and philanthropic work,” she said.
Sandberg also said that she is planning to stay on Meta’s board of directors.
In her post, Sandberg also wrote that she and Tom Bernthal plan to get married this summer and focus on their family of five. Her exit from Facebook is expected this fall.
What did Mark Zuckerberg say about Sheryl Sandberg’s exit?
Zuckerberg said that Sandberg had “architected our ads business, hired great people, forged our management culture, and taught me how to run a company,” in a comment on her Facebook post.
“I’m going to miss working alongside you every day, but grateful to have you as a lifelong friend. Thank you for all you’ve done for me and my family, for our company, and for millions of people around the world,” he said, adding, “You’re a superstar.”
In a separate Facebook post, Zuckerberg said he doesn’t plan to replace Sandberg’s role, since she “defined the COO role in her own unique way.”
Javier Olivan, the current chief growth officer, will step in as COO, leading the “integrated ads and business products” as well as the “infrastructure, integrity, analytics, marketing, corporate development and growth teams,” the Meta founder said.
“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,” Zuckerberg added.