What’s on Sheryl Sandberg’s mind?
Future. With her exit from Meta, Sheryl Sandberg leaves an outsized (and controversial) legacy. Having been CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s right-hand person since he was a wee 23-year-old, her vision has been part of nearly every step of Meta’s story. With big changes happening at the company — transitioning to a metaverse company, doubling down on short-form video, and pushing hard into AR wearables — Sandberg may have seen the writing on the wall that a chapter was closing for Meta… and figured she should step away at the same time.
Notes on the timeline
According to Insider’s discussions with insiders at Meta, Sandberg’s exit was inevitable.
- Sandberg seemed absent from Facebook’s big rebrand to Meta — a strange oversight for Zuckerberg’s longtime #2.
- The advertising business seemed to get passed on to the new Chief Business Officer, Marne Levine (who is apparently very good at handling Madison Avenue).
- Sandberg has been in the hot seat for a while, navigating company controversies such as election misinformation in 2016, the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, an advertising boycott, and the January 6 insurrection in 2020.
Additionally, WSJ reports that Meta is allegedly investigating Sandberg for how she used company resources and whether she pressured Daily Mail into shelving an article back in 2016 that was critical of her ex-boyfriend, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. Sandberg refutes those claims and says that she was just burnt out and tired of being a “punching bag for the company’s problems.”
Still, she’ll remain on Meta’s board for the foreseeable future.
Now, the big question on the mind of Silicon Valley, Madison Avenue, Wall Street, and all the media onlookers is, “where will Sheryl Sandberg go next?” Although once rumored for a position in political office (potential Treasury Secretary if Clinton had won in 2016 or VP for Michael Bloomberg if he had won the Democratic primary) or a high-profile CEO post (Disney was a potential), Sanberg told The Verge that she plans on focusing more on philanthropy and women’s rights, building on her work with Lean In.
So, where does that leave Meta? Javier Olivan, the company’s Chief Growth Officer, will step into Sandberg’s now-vacant role… but he won’t have the same influence that she had over Zuckerberg over the past 14 years. Zuckerberg himself wrote in a Facebook post that the position will now be a “more traditional COO role where [Olivan] will be focused internally and operationally.” Nonetheless, Olivan has his work cut out for him: Meta will apparently lose a “significant amount of money in the near term.