Meta Platforms Inc. Chief Operating Officer Sherly Sandberg announced today that she’s leaving Meta, a company she helped become a global phenomenon.
When Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook, he was just 23-years old, and Sandberg (pictured) was 38. She explained in a Facebook post today that back then Zuckerberg approached her at a party and explained what he had in mind for Facebook. “Mark’s belief that people would put their real selves online to connect with other people was so mesmerizing that we stood by that door and talked for the rest of the night,” she said.
Before accepting the position, she said she asked for three things. She wanted to sit next to Zuckerberg, have at least one one-on-one meeting per week, and that he always gave her honest feedback on her work. Zuckerberg agreed, and what was to become one of the most well-known tech partnerships was born. Even today, she said, the two stick to that deal.
Prior to taking the job, Sandberg had graduated from Harvard and gone on to work under the Clinton administration as the chief of staff to the Treasury Secretary, Lawrence H. Summers. Her time in tech started with helping Google LLC make a fortune with targeted advertising.
The work at Facebook was demanding, of course, and after fourteen years she’s seen the company’s user base reach a staggering 2.93 billion people. She’s been involved in countless dramas, acquisitions, and seen the release of a legion of products, but as Facebook morphed into Meta and Zuckerberg’s Metaverse plans came to the fore, she took more of a backseat.
“When I took this job in 2008, I hoped I would be in this role for five years,” Sandberg said. “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 – 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.”
Zuckerberg called her “amazing”, saying she’s been a “leader, partner, and friend” over the years. He said Sandberg has taught him a lot, not just in a professional way, but in terms of his life as a father and a husband. “I’m going to miss running this company with Sheryl,” he added. “But I’m glad that she’ll continue to serve on our board of directors so we can benefit from her wisdom and experience even after she transitions out of her day-to-day management role in the coming months.”
As for who will fill Sandberg’s boots, he said he’s not sure anyone will, stating that she has been such a “superstar” that it might not be possible. “I think Meta has reached the point where it makes sense for our product and business groups to be more closely integrated, rather than having all the business and operations functions organized separately from our products,” he explained.
Marne Levine, Meta’s Chief Business Officer, will on paper become the next Chief Operating Officer, but Zuckerberg said the role will be vastly different from what Sandberg did.