Sheryl Sandberg To Leave Facebook After 14 Years

After fourteen years as chief operating officer at Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg confirms she will leave the firm in the Autumn

Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of both Meta and Facebook, and one of the most high profile woman in the tech industry, is to step down from her role in the Autumn.

Sandberg confirmed the decision in a Facebook post on Wednesday, saying “today, I am sharing the news that after 14 years, I will be leaving Meta.”

Sandberg was credited with ensuring that the day-to-day operations of the social networking giant were as smooth as possible, and played a notable role dealing with the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal.

Zuckerberg Facebook -Shutterstock - © Kobby Dagan

Sandberg’s statement

And it should be remembered that Sandberg joined Facebook when it was still a relatively small company and Mark Zuckerberg was then a youthful 23 year-old Harvard dropout.

Sandberg is credited with turning Facebook advertising business into a revenue generating powerhouse, and assisted as the company grew with the acquisitions of Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.

Javier Olivan, who is Meta’s chief growth officer, will take over Sandberg’s position in the Autumn.

In her post, Sandberg confirmed she will remain on the board of directors, but will focus on her foundation and philanthropic work in the future.

Sandberg said that when she joined Facebook in 2008 from Google, she made Mark Zuckerberg promise her three things.

First that they would sit next to each other; second that he would meet with her every week; and third he would give honest feedback when he thought she messed up.

Zuckerberg agreed to all three demands, but asked that she provide the same truthful feedback when she though he had messed up.

“To this day, he has kept those promises,” Sandberg wrote. “We still sit together (OK, not through COVID), meet one-on-one every week, and the feedback is immediate and real.”

“Sitting by Mark’s side for these 14 years has been the honour and privilege of a lifetime,” she added. “Mark is a true visionary and a caring leader. He sometimes says that we grew up together, and we have.”

“When I took this job in 2008, I hoped I would be in this role for five years. Fourteen years later, it is time for me to write the next chapter of my life,” she wrote. “I am not entirely sure what the future will bring – I have learned no one ever is. But I know it will include focusing more on my foundation and philanthropic work, which is more important to me than ever given how critical this moment is for women.”

And Zuckerberg replied to her post, thanking her for being a friend.

“The end of an era,” wrote Zuckerberg. “In the 14 years we’ve worked together, you’ve architected our ads business, hired great people, forged our management culture, and taught me how to run a company.”

“I’m going to miss working alongside you every day, but grateful to have you as a lifelong friend,” he wrote. “Thank you for all you’ve done for me and my family, for our company, and for millions of people around the world. You’re a superstar.”

Tough times

Sheryl Sandberg’s stint at Meta and Facebook has not been without some testing times for her personally.

In 2015, Sandberg’s husband David Goldberg died suddenly in a freak accident whilst they both were on holiday at a Mexican resort.

Goldberg suffered severe head trauma and blood loss after he slipped and fell off of a treadmill in the hotel’s gym;

Seven years after the loss of her husband, Sandberg is getting re-married this summer.

And Sandberg was also dragged into a row in 2018 over Washington-based PR firm that Facebook hired to allegedly smear critics of the firm.

Sandberg admitted at the time that she “didn’t remember” the PR firm Definers.