What just happened? While Facebook parent company Meta continues to forge ahead with its vision for the metaverse, it will be doing so without one of its most tenured and influential employees. COO Sheryl Sandberg announced on Wednesday that she will be leaving the company after more than 14 years of service.
In a Facebook post published today, Sandberg briefly announced the news and briefly recapped her history at the company, describing some of the ups and downs of her 14-year career. In it, she recounts her first meeting with Mark Zuckerberg at a party in 2007, where she learned about -- and fell in love with -- the idea of "The Facebook." She didn't join the company until 2008, though, after "countless" conversations with Zuckerberg about her potential role.
Her job was to convert Facebook from a fun website where friends and family could connect to one that could actually turn a profit. She, along with the rest of Facebook's leadership team, decided to use advertising to make that happen -- and to great success. To this day, targeted ads and the massive, controversial data collection efforts needed to make them effective have remained two core pillars of Meta's business model (at Sandberg's behest).
Though the company has offered user's more control over their data in recent years following high-profile scandals like the Cambridge Analytica debacle, the shadow of its past missteps with data privacy continue to follow Meta and its high-profile executives -- Sandberg included.
Regardless, Sandberg's legacy goes beyond the realm of Facebook. She is also a well-recognized author, responsible for books like the feminist "Lean In" and "Ban Bossy," which have collectively sold millions of copies in their quest to encourage women and young girls to pursue positions in leadership.
Sandberg will be departing Meta this fall, but she intends to remain a member of the company's board of directors, which she first joined in 2012. Moving forward, she hopes to place a greater emphasis on her philanthropic work and the "Sheryl Sandberg & David Goldberg Family Foundation," which aims to support and inspire women in their professional careers.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg commented on the news in a Facebook post of his own, calling Sandberg a "good friend" who taught him how to run a company. He notes that while he's sad to see her go, he's grateful for "everything she has done to build Meta." Zuckerberg has no immediate plans to replace Sandberg's current role in the company structure, but that could change in the future.