Sheryl Sandberg, the No. 2 executive at Facebook owner Meta, is stepping down. Sandberg helped transform the company from a startup to a digital advertising empire while also taking responsibility for some of its biggest mistakes.

Sandberg has been the social media company’s chief operating officer for 14 years. She joined Facebook from Google in 2008, four years before the company went public.

“When I took this job in 2008, I hoped to stay for five years.” “Fourteen years later, it is time for me to write the next chapter of my life,” Sandberg said on Facebook on Wednesday.

Sandberg oversaw Facebook’s — now Meta’s — advertising business, growing it from its infancy to a $100 billion-a-year powerhouse. Sandberg, the company’s second most-recognized face after CEO Mark Zuckerberg, has also become a polarizing figure following revelations about how some of her business decisions for Facebook contributed to the spread of misinformation and hate speech.

As one of the most visible female executives in the technology industry, she was frequently chastised for not doing enough for women and others harmed by Facebook’s products. Her public speaking skills, as well as her seemingly effortless ability to bridge the worlds of technology, business, and politics, stood in stark contrast to Zuckerberg, particularly in Facebook’s early years.

But Zuckerberg has since caught up, preparing for the several congressional hearings in which he has been called to defend Facebook’s practices.

Neither Sandberg nor Zuckerberg hinted that Sandberg’s resignation was not her choice. However, she has appeared somewhat sidelined in recent years, with other executives close to Zuckerberg, such as Chris Cox, who returned to the company in 2020 as chief product officer after a year away, becoming more visible.

“Sheryl Sandberg had a huge impact on Facebook, Meta, and the business world in general.” “She helped Facebook build a world-class ad-buying platform and pioneering ad formats,” said Insider Intelligence analyst Debra Aho Williamson. She did, however, add that Facebook faced “huge scandals” under Sandberg’s leadership, including the 2016 US presidential election, the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal in 2018, and the 2021 riot at the US Capitol.

Meta is currently “facing a slowdown in user growth and ad revenue that is now testing the business foundation that the company was built on,” she explained. “The company needs to find a new path forward, and this may have been the best time for Sandberg to leave.”

Sandberg will leave Meta in the fall but will remain on the company’s board.

Javier Olivan, who currently oversees key functions at Meta’s four main apps — Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger — will serve as Meta’s new COO, according to Zuckerberg’s own Facebook post. However, it will be a different job than Sandberg has held for the past 14 years.

“It will be a more traditional COO role, with Javi focusing on internal and operational priorities, building on his strong track record of making our execution more efficient and rigorous,” Zuckerberg wrote.

While Sandberg has long been Zuckerberg’s No. 2, even sitting next to him in the company’s Menlo Park, California, headquarters — pre-pandemic, at least — she also had a very public-facing job, meeting with lawmakers, holding focus groups, and speaking out on issues such as women in the workplace and, most recently, abortion.

“I believe Meta has progressed to the point where it makes sense for our product and business groups to be more closely integrated, rather than having all of our business and operations functions organized separately from our products,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Sandberg, who unexpectedly lost her husband Dave Goldberg in 2015, stated that she is “not entirely sure what the future will bring.”

“However, I know it will include focusing more on my foundation and philanthropic work, which is more important to me than ever given how critical this moment is for women,” she wrote, adding that she is also getting married this summer and that parenting their expanded family of five children will be a part of this future.


Sandberg, now 52, first assisted Google in creating what quickly became the internet’s largest – and most profitable – advertising network. But she left that position to take on the challenge of turning Facebook’s freewheeling social network into a profitable business while also mentoring Zuckerberg, who was 23 at the time.

She proved to be exactly what Zuckerberg and the company needed at the right time, paving the way for Facebook’s highly anticipated initial public offering of stock a decade ago.

While Zuckerberg remained Facebook’s visionary and controlling shareholder, Sandberg became the engine of a business powered by a rapidly growing digital ad business that has become nearly as successful as the one she helped build around Google’s dominant search engine.

Facebook’s business, like Google’s, has thrived on its ability to keep its users coming back for more of its free services while leveraging its social networking technology to learn more about people’s interests, habits, and whereabouts – a nosy model that has repeatedly entangled the company in debates about whether a right to personal privacy still exists in an increasingly digital age.

Sandberg, as one of the top female executives in technology, has been held up as an inspiration for working women at times – a role she appeared to embrace with a best-selling 2013 book titled “Lean In Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.”

However, “Lean In” was met with immediate criticism. Sandberg has been described as a “PowerPoint Pied Piper in Prada ankle boots” by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, and critics have suggested she is the wrong person to lead a women’s movement.

She responded to some of the criticism in a subsequent book about the death of her husband, Dave Goldberg. When Goldberg died in an accident while working out on vacation in 2015, she became a symbol of heartbreaking grief, leaving her widowed with two children while continuing to help run one of the world’s most well-known companies.