Meta’s second most powerful executive Sheryl Sandberg made the shock announcement Wednesday she will leave after a 14-year tenure that included helping steer scandal-prone Facebook to advertising dominance.
Sandberg, 52, has been one of the most influential women in Silicon Valley and her departure comes as the social media juggernaut faces an uncertain future and fierce competition.
Sandberg said on her Facebook page that she is stepping down as chief operating officer, but would remain on the board of parent company Meta.
“She has taught me so much and she has been there for many of the important moments in my life, both personally and professionally,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.
“I’m going to miss running this company with Sheryl.”
Sandberg’s departure news comes as what started as an online social network rebrands itself to pivot toward the virtual vision it sees for the internet in the form of the metaverse.
The Silicon Valley colossus has since seen its image tainted by accusations it has become of doing harm, putting profit over user privacy and even the good of society.
Meanwhile, the likes of TikTok, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and even Apple now vie with Meta for people’s online attention as Facebook social network is increasingly seen as a place for older people.
Zuckerberg said that Sandberg’s role won’t be replaced as it was at the company, but that Javier Olivan will become Meta’s next chief operating officer.
But the next COO will be more traditional, different from the close second-in-command status Sandberg holds, Zuckerberg said.
“I don’t plan to replace Sheryl’s role in our existing structure,” Zuckerberg said.
“I’m not sure that would be possible since she’s a superstar who defined the COO role in her own unique way.”
Meta shares fell more than two percent on word that Sandberg is leaving, another blow to a stock value that has plummeted after worries emerged the company’s regular growth was coming to an end.