Sheryl Sandberg, Meta’s second most powerful CEO, announced her departure on Wednesday, ending a 14-year tenure that involved steering scandal-prone Facebook to ad domination.
Sandberg, 52, was one of Silicon Valley’s most powerful women, and her exit comes as the social media behemoth confronts a bleak future and severe competition.
Her departure from Facebook parent Meta will take effect in the fall, she said on the site, adding that she intends to stay on the board of directors.
Sandberg, a Harvard-educated executive, joined Facebook as a company in 2008 and played a key role in its growth into a multi-billion dollar advertising empire.
“It’s time for me to write the next chapter of my life,” Sandberg stated after fourteen years. “I’m not sure what the future holds — no one ever is,” says the narrator.
Her work earned her a national figure, courtesy to her 2013 book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” which made her not only a familiar face in tech but also a household one.
The best-selling book encouraged women to “lean in” to their jobs in order to maximize their potential and overcome barriers in the workplace.
It has elicited praise from supporters for articulating a fresh modern feminist perspective, as well as harsh condemnation from critics who claim that her exalted position has rendered her unacquainted with the arduous human costs of balancing work and family life.
The social network has redesigned itself to reflect its conviction that the internet is evolving into an immersive virtual environment known as the metaverse.
The image of the Silicon Valley behemoth has been tarnished by charges that it prioritized business before user privacy and even the benefit of society.
“Sandberg leaves Meta, and the social media environment that Facebook helped to establish, in a significantly worse state than she found it,” said Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America.
“She has a history of allowing trolling, harassment, and abuse to flourish.”
Meanwhile, since the Facebook platform is increasingly perceived as a destination for older people, TikTok, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and even Apple compete with Meta for people’s online attention.
Sandberg’s job at the firm will be reshaped, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, with Javier Olivan taking over as Meta’s chief operational officer.
According to Zuckerberg, the next COO will be more traditional, as opposed to Sandberg’s close second-in-command status.
In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg stated, “She has taught me so much and she has been there for many of the significant milestones in my life, both personally and professionally.”
“Sheryl built our advertising firm, hired amazing employees, established our management culture, and taught me how to operate a business.”
According to Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi, Zuckerberg’s departure to Sandberg gave the impression that he believes he has outgrown her.
“It doesn’t feel like that relationship is needed or functional anymore,” Milanesi told AFP.
Sandberg, who has long been seen as the firm’s “adult,” has found herself at the focus of a controversy over her role in responding to criticism of the social media behemoth.
Sandberg drew fire in particular over an embarrassing effort to probe George Soros, the billionaire investor, after he assailed the online network as a “menace to society.”
Facebook has acknowledged that Sandberg asked her staff to conduct research on the Hungarian-born billionaire following his remarks, out of concern that he held a “short” position that would profit from a decline in shares.
Among the tech whiz kids, Sandberg offered a steadier hand as a result of her background working for former US Treasury secretary Larry Summers and the philanthropic arm of Google.
Sandberg in 2015 was devastated by the sudden death of her husband, US tech executive David Goldberg, at an upscale resort in Mexico.
Two years ago she announced her engagement to marketing executive Tom Bernthal.