Sheryl Sandberg announced Wednesday she is stepping down as chief operating officer of Meta after 14 years. Sandberg announced her departure in a Facebook post, saying that she will spend the next few months transitioning before leaving the company in the fall.
"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," Sandberg wrote. "I am not entirely sure what the future will bring – I have learned no one ever is."
Sandberg joined Facebook from Google, tasked with transforming Mark Zuckerberg's wildly successful dorm room experiment into a going business. Sandberg led Facebook's efforts to develop an advertising business, and quickly became one of the most well-known female tech executives in the US. But in recent years, Sandberg's once sterling reputation has become tarnished, particularly in the wake of the Internet Research Agency scandal following the 2016 election.
More recently, The Wall Street Journal reported that Sandberg personally intervened in negative reporting about her ex-boyfriend Bobby Kotick. The Journal reported that Sandberg was facing an internal investigation over the matter.
Sandberg's post did not lend much clarity into why she decided now is the time to leave, instead, focusing primarily on her history at the company and her fondness for Zuckerberg, who she first met during a chance encounter at a holiday party.
"Mark is a true visionary and a caring leader. He sometimes says that we grew up together, and we have," Sandberg wrote. "He was just 23 and I was already 38 when we met, but together we have been through the massive ups and downs of running this company, as well as his marriage to the magnificent Priscilla, the sorrow of their miscarriages and the joy of their childbirths, the sudden loss of Dave, my engagement to [Tom Bernthal], and so much more."
In his own statement on Facebook, Zuckerberg wrote, "I'm sad that the day is coming when I won't get to work as closely with Sheryl. But more than anything, I'm grateful for everything she has done to build Meta."
Sandberg said she now plans to spend more time on philanthropy and family.
In recent years, there have been ample signs that she was taking a less prominent public role at the company. Recently, Nick Clegg was promoted to president of public affairs, a role that made him Meta's point person in conversations with world leaders and global governments.
Shortly after the news broke, former Meta employees began sounding off on Twitter. "I have no real thoughts on Sheryl as a person/leader but this will be an incredibly non-shocking departure to basically everyone inside the company," wrote former spokesperson Drew Pusateri.
Sandberg will continue to serve on Meta's board, but Zuckerberg said he will not be replacing her with anyone who does precisely what she does. "I'm not sure that would be possible since she's a superstar who defined the COO role in her own unique way," Zuckerberg wrote. "But even if it were possible, 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."
Instead, Javier Olivan will become chief operating officer, but with a different set of responsibilities, which Zuckerberg described as more akin to a traditional COO role, focused on making the company "more efficient and rigorous."