Sheryl Sandberg, the former chief operating officer of both Meta Platforms and Facebook, and one of the most high profile woman in the tech industry, is to step down from Meta’s board of directors.

She confirmed her departure from Meta’s board in a Facebook post, and it comes after she resigned from the chief operating officer position back in 2022.

Sandberg, aged 54, had joined Meta (formerly Facebook) in 2008, when it was still a relatively small company and Mark Zuckerberg was then a youthful 23 year-old Harvard dropout. Prior to that she had worked at Google for seven years.

Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg.
Image credit Sheryl Sandberg

Stepping down

In 2012 Sandberg was appointed to Facebook’s board of directors, and she was credited with ensuring that the day-to-day operations of the social networking giant were as smooth as possible.

Sandberg played a notable role dealing with the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal in 2018.

Sandberg was also 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.

But in June 2022 Sandberg announced that after 14 years, she was stepping down as chief operating officer of both Meta and Facebook.

She confirmed at the time that she would remain on the board of directors, but would focus on her foundation and philanthropic work in the future.

Then in a Facebook post on Wednesday, Sandberg confirmed she would not stand for the board reelection this May, but would leave Meta.

“With a heart filled with gratitude and a mind filled with memories, I let the Meta board know that I will not stand for reelection this May,” she wrote. “After I left my role as COO, I remained on the board to help ensure a successful transition.”

“Under Mark’s leadership, Javi Olivan, Justin Osofsky, Nicola Mendelsohn, and their teams have proven beyond a doubt that the Meta business is strong and well-positioned for the future, so this feels like the right time to step away. Going forward, I will serve as an advisor to the company, and I will always be there to help the Meta teams,” she said.

“Serving as Facebook’s – and then Meta’s – COO for 14 ½ years and a board member for 12 years has been the opportunity of a lifetime,” she added. “I will always be grateful to Mark for believing in me and for his partnership and friendship; he is that truly once-in-a-generation visionary leader and he is equally amazing as a friend who stays by your side through the good times and the bad.”

“I will always be grateful to my colleagues and teammates at Meta for all the years of working side by side and all they taught me,” she added. “And I am particularly grateful to my fellow Meta board members for their lasting friendships, the guidance they provided me for so many years, and their stewardship of products that mean so much to people all over the world.”

Mark Zuckerberg was the first to comment on the post and thank her for her service and commitment.

“Thank you Sheryl for the extraordinary contributions you have made to our company and community over the years,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Your dedication and guidance have been instrumental in driving our success and I am grateful for your unwavering commitment to me and Meta over the years. I look forward to this next chapter together!”

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 re-married.

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.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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