Meta Platforms Inc Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, whose close partnership with Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg powered the growth of the world’s biggest social network, is leaving the company after 14 years, she said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
The announcement initially sent the social media firm’s shares down 4%, but the stock was nearly flat in after-hours trade.
“When I took this job in 2008, I hoped I would be in this role for five years. Fourteen years later, it is time for me to write the next chapter of my life,” she wrote.
Chief Growth Officer Javier Olivan will take over as chief operating officer, Zuckerberg said in a separate Facebook post, although he added that he did not plan to replace Sandberg’s role directly within the company’s existing structure.
“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 said.
Olivan has worked at Meta for more than 14 years and has led teams handling Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger.
Sandberg’s departure marks an end of an era for Meta, which is shifting focus toward hardware products and the “metaverse” after years of scandals over privacy abuses and the spread of conspiratorial content on its platforms, as well as plateauing user growth on its flagship app Facebook.
The second-in-command to founder Zuckerberg, who was 23 years old when he hired her, Sandberg is one of the most visible executives at the company and the lead architect of its often-criticized ads-based business model.
Bringing management experience and knowledge of the then-nascent digital ads industry, she transformed Facebook from a buzzy startup into a revenue behemoth, while also positioning herself as the face of feminism in corporate America.
At the time, Facebook was making $272 million in revenue, for a net loss of $56 million, according to regulatory filings. By 2011, a year before the company’s initial public offering, its revenue had shot to $3.7 billion on $1 billion in profits.
Meta ended 2021 with revenue of $118 billion and earnings of $39.4 billion.
Sandberg said in her post that she will continue to serve on Meta’s board after leaving the company in the fall.
When asked about her next steps, she told Reuters she was focusing on philanthropy at a “critical moment for women.”
“We’ve hired so many great leaders. I feel really good about that. The next leadership team is in place to take the company forward,” she said, mentioning Chief Business Officer Marne Levine and President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg by name.