Sheryl Sandberg, Meta’s chief operating officer and the second in command of its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, said Wednesday he would step down after 14 years as the company continues to face questions about its networking platform. social and while navigating transition to the so-called metavers.
Ms Sandberg, 52, said she would leave Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and other apps, this autumn and planned to continue working on the company’s board of directors. In an interview, he said that joining Facebook was “the honor and privilege of a lifetime” and that he initially hoped to do so for about five years instead of the 14 he had been wearing.
Ms Sandberg said the job didn’t give her time for many other activities and she now wanted to focus on her personal philanthropy and her foundation, Lean In. She will also marry Tom Bernthal, a television producer, this summer.
“I believe in this business,” Ms. Sandberg said in the interview. “Did we get it all right? Absolutely not. Have we learned and listened, grown up and invested where we need to go? This team has it and will do it. “
Mr. Zuckerberg has named Javier Olivan, a longtime product executive, as Meta’s next chief operating officer. Mr. Olivan has overseen much of Facebook’s growth over the past decade and has managed WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger and Facebook.
Ms Sandberg is ending her term at Meta far from the top of the reputation she had reached last decade. As a key lieutenant of Mr. Zuckerberg, Mrs. Sandberg helped build Facebook’s business during the company’s early years and was considered the room’s adult. Facebook’s advertising business flourished beneath it, and Ms. Sandberg used her corporate fame to talk about other issues, such as what women could achieve in the workplace.
But after the 2016 presidential election, Facebook came under intense scrutiny for how misuse was made to fuel division and spread misinformation. Ms. Sandberg was in charge of the company’s policy and security team during those elections. The social network was also haunted by privacy questions following a scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, a voter profile company that misused Facebook data.
Ms. Sandberg, who was one of Facebook’s most visible executives, could not recover from those setbacks. In recent years, Mr. Zuckerberg had a higher public profile and a more important role in overseeing different parts of the company, many of which had been under the sole responsibility of Ms. Sandberg.
His departure also comes as Facebook moves in a new direction. Last year, Zuckerberg changed the name of the Meta company and announced that it would become a key provider of metavers, an immersive online world. But because the company has been spending heavily on metaverse products, its advertising business has stumbled, in part because of privacy changes made by Apple that have hurt targeted advertising.
In February, Meta’s market value fell by more than $ 230 billion, its biggest elimination a day after it reported financial results showing it was struggling to make the leap to the metaverse.
In the interview, Ms. Sandberg said Meta was facing short-term challenges, but she would withstand the storm as she did during previous challenges. “When we made it public, we didn’t have mobile ads,” Sandberg said, citing the company’s rapid transition from desktop to smartphone over the past decade. “We’ve done it before.”
Ms. Sandberg has flirted with leaving Facebook in the past. In 2016, she told colleagues that if Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, won the White House, she would most likely take a job in Washington, said three people who spoke to her about moving at the time. . In 2018, following revelations about Cambridge Analytica and Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, he once again told his comrades that he was considering leaving, but that he did not want to do so when they were in crisis.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Mr. Zuckerberg praised Ms. Sandberg.
“It’s unusual for a business association like ours to last that long,” he wrote. “Sheryl designed our ad business, hired great people, forged our management culture, and taught me how to run a business.”
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