Sheryl Sandberg quits Facebook owner Meta after 14 years

Sheryl Sandberg, the woman dubbed Mark Zuckerberg’s most treasured friend, has quit her role as deputy at Facebook owner Meta after 14 years.

In a post on Facebook, Ms Sandberg said she is stepping down as chief operating officer of the company she’s credited with transforming from a startup into a multibillion-dollar tech titan.

Meta’s shares plummeted almost 4 percent after the announcement.

Ms. Sandberg, who has not given a reason for leaving, remains on the company’s board of directors and will be replaced by Javier Olivan, Meta’s chief growth officer, in the fall.

In a separate post on Facebook, Mr. Zuckerberg, the company’s CEO and founder, called Ms. Sandberg’s departure “the end of an era.”

Mr. Zuckerberg hired Ms. Sandberg in 2008 as the social media giant’s first chief operating officer. She was key in making Facebook an advertising powerhouse, generating nearly $120 billion (£96 billion) in revenue last year.

She also responded to Facebook’s privacy and policy failures over the years and sought to mend its relationship with the public and regulators.

Along the way, she became an influential author, published Lean In in 2013, and was the company’s most recognizable face alongside Mr. Zuckerberg.

She has also been the public political face of Meta, meeting with lawmakers, holding focus groups and speaking on issues such as women in the workplace and most recently, abortion.

The couple met in 2008 when Mr. Zuckerberg was 23 years old. She left a senior position at Google to lead the operations of the then fledgling online platform.

Ms. Sandberg was brought in to oversee business functions including advertising, partnerships, business development and operations so that Mr. Zuckerberg could focus on the products.

Meta now has four products with more than 1 billion users, and its advertising business generated $27 billion in revenue in the first quarter.

Ms Sandberg said on Wednesday night: “When I started this job in 2008, I hoped I would stay in this role for five years. Fourteen years later, it’s time for me to write the next chapter of my life.

“I’m not exactly sure what the future will hold – I’ve learned that no one ever is. But I know I will be more focused on my foundation and philanthropic work, which is more important to me than ever given how critical this moment is for women.”

Mr. Zuckerberg said Mr. Olivan will not replace Ms. Sandberg’s role as chief operating officer in Meta’s existing structure.

He added: “I’m not sure that would be possible as she is a superstar who has defined the role of COO in her own unique way.

“Javi will be our next chief operating officer… But that role will be different than Sheryl.”

It is believed Sir Nick Clegg, former Deputy Prime Minister, now Meta’s President for Global Affairs, will now report solely to Mr Zuckerberg.

Ms. Sandberg’s departure comes as Mr. Zuckerberg seeks to refocus his company on the “Metaverse,” a series of online worlds accessible via virtual reality.

He renamed the company Meta last year and is spending billions to stay ahead of competitors like Apple and Microsoft in the new space.

Meta posted a bumpy first quarter of 2022 as daily active users on Facebook beat expectations, but revenue growth was the slowest ever.

Its core social networking business is suffering from competition from video-sharing giant TikTok, while its advertising arm has been hampered by changes Apple has made to the iPhone, making it harder to target ads.

In February, the stock plummeted 26.4 percent, shedding $230 billion in market cap, breaking the record for the largest one-day fall in value by a company.

It came after daily user counts fell for the first time since Facebook’s inception in 2004, falling by 1 million late last year. Sheryl Sandberg quits Facebook owner Meta after 14 years

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