Sheryl Sandberg steps down as Meta COO after 14 years

Sheryl Sandberg, Meta's COO
She will retain her role on the board after she leaves later this year. Photo credit: Getty Images

Sheryl Sandberg has announced she is stepping down as the chief operating officer of Facebook parent company Meta after 14 years in the role.

In a post Sandberg said she took the job in 2008 initially hoping to be in the role for five years, but will now leave some time in the northern autumn.

She said she doesn't know what her future holds, but will be focusing more on her foundation and philanthropic work, "which is more important to me than ever given how critical this moment is for women".

Javier Olivan, Meta's chief growth officer, will take over from Sandberg when she finishes with the company.

"I still believe as strongly as ever in our mission, and I am honoured that I will continue to serve on Meta's board of directors," Sandberg wrote.

"I am so immensely proud of everything this team has achieved. And I'm especially proud that this is a company where many, many exceptional women and people from diverse backgrounds have risen through our ranks and become leaders - both in our company and in leadership roles elsewhere."

She finished by thanking founder Mark Zuckerberg for giving her the opportunity and being "one of the best friends anyone could ever have".

In an interview with Tim Ferriss for his podcast in April, Zuckerberg said Sandberg's "unique" skill set was a key to the company's success.

"If you get someone who's great at strategy or great at product and they're not a great manager, that's great," he said.

"If you can have someone who's excellent at one of those things, you hire them every day. I think it's just exceptionally rare to find people who spike in both of those areas."

The reaction online to the news has been mixed, however.

Wired writer Tom Simonite pointed out that Sandberg's goodbye note said she first met Zuckerberg when she thought "the internet was a largely anonymous place to search for funny pictures".

"At the time she was VP for ad sales at Google," Simonite posted, pointing out that her recollection may not be entirely accurate.

Website Vice was on the nose with their review of Sandberg's tenure.

"Under Sheryl Sandberg's tenure, Facebook has helped incite genocide in Myanmar, and acted as a vehicle for white nationalism and white supremacy across the United States."

The tweet, linking to a story by Joseph Cox, said she "was directly responsible for some of the worst behaviour we've seen from any technology company in history".

Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business, was more kind in her tweeted tribute.

"Congrats Sheryl on a spectacular career. You've widened the path for generations of women who will come behind you," she posted.