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June 24, 2024

Sandberg Steps Down From Meta Board After 14 Years As Company Pivots To Metaverse

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Jan 18, 2024

Meta Platforms Inc. announced on January 17th, 2024 that Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg will be stepping down from the company’s board after a 14 year tenure. Sandberg has been one of the most prominent female executives in Silicon Valley and her departure comes as Meta struggles with slowing revenue growth and mounting costs as it transitions from social media to the metaverse.

Sandberg Leaves Lasting Impact As Meta’s #2 Executive

Sandberg, 54, has worked at Meta for 14 years and has been widely credited with building Facebook’s lucrative digital advertising business and helping transform Meta into a $1 trillion company. As Meta’s second-in-command behind CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Sandberg oversaw the company’s day-to-day operations and was deeply involved in key decisions.

During her time at the company, Sandberg helped grow Facebook from a private college-based social networking site into a global tech titan with 3.85 billion monthly active users across Meta’s family of apps which includes Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.

“Sheryl devised the winning strategy that allowed a fledgling social network to survive, then thrive,” said analyst Jack Gold. “She has been key to making Facebook the advertising juggernaut it has become.”

Sandberg departs Meta in a very different position than the one she joined in 2008. While Meta remains hugely profitable thanks to its ad business, the company faces revenue growth headwinds and its stock has plunged over 50% in the past year as it spends billions transitioning to CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse. Meta is also contending with increasing government regulation over privacy, harm, and competition in social media.

Sandberg said leaving Meta’s board was “not an easy decision,” but says now is “the right time” for her next chapter to focus more on her foundation and philanthropic work. She will remain employed at Meta through the fall before shifting to an advisory role.

Meta Struggles With Shift To Metaverse Sparking Executive Shakeup

Sandberg’s resignation from the board follows Meta’s worst stock wipeout on record last year and comes as the company makes a hard pivot to the metaverse, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg staking the company’s future on an immersive virtual reality version of the internet.

But Meta’s investments in its metaverse platform has been accompanied by rapidly declining profits. Meta posted two consecutive declines in quarterly sales for the first time last year and profits are projected to sink 36% in 2023. Revenue growth is expected slow to its lowest pace in over a decade at just 4%.

The steep drop in profits and revenue growth reflects Meta’s heavy spending to fund Zuckerberg’s ambitious plan for the loosely defined metaverse amid rising competition from rival tech platforms like TikTok.

Transitioning from social media to the metaverse is costing tens of billions of dollars as Meta rushes to hire engineers and hundreds of other workers to develop the software, hardware and content needed to support an immersive version of the internet. At the same time, Meta is losing social media users to competitors and struggling with lower advertising spending as businesses trim budgets in preparation for a potential recession.

Meta’s disappointing growth has sparked an exodus of employees and executives. Last fall, Meta announced it was laying off 11,000 employees – 13% of its workforce. And other high profile executives like Meta’s head of Reality Labs and chief technology officer have also recently departed.

Sandberg’s resignation reinforces the challenges Meta is facing with its metaverse pivot, which depends on technologies like virtual and augmented reality that remain unproven at Meta’s scale – if they end up being broadly adopted at all.

There is also uncertainty around who may eventually succeed Zuckerberg whenever he does depart as CEO given Sandberg’s key role as Zuckerberg’s second-in-command.

Sandberg Faced Controversy But Leaves Positive Legacy Promoting Women in Tech

While recognized for helping drive Meta’s success, Sandberg’s career has not been without controversy. She faced backlash for some of Meta’s missteps around protecting user privacy and preventing platform harms. Sandberg was also criticized after reports she asked Facebook staff to investigate financier George Soros after he criticized tech companies at a global forum.

But her advocacy for women in the workplace will be a key part of her legacy. Sandberg is the founder of Lean In, a non-profit focused on supporting women in their careers. Her 2013 book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” urged women to be more assertive in their careers.

Sandberg also helped implement more female-friendly policies at Meta such as extending parental leave and offering onsite childcare. Meta recently reported that women make up 44% of its global workforce – a very high percentage for tech firms.

What Comes Next for Sandberg and Meta

While stepping down from Meta’s board, Sandberg will remain a company employee through the fall before transitioning to an advisory role under a consulting contract. People close to Sandberg say she plans to focus more time on philanthropy work.

For Meta, key questions remain around what’s next for the company as its core social media business shows signs of maturation while Meta’s metaverse bet racked up more than $36 billion in operating losses in the past three years.

There are also questions around whether Zuckerberg can lead Meta to success in the metaverse without Sandberg as his key deputy. While Zuckerberg is assuming more direct responsibility for key parts of the business as Meta downsizes, he still faces tremendous uncertainty over whether virtual and augmented reality platforms can deliver profits at Meta’s scale.

Meta’s board will also look different without one of its longest serving directors. New perspectives could bring renewed accountability and governance, or spark more volatility as Meta looks to reinvent itself.

Year Key Events
2008 Sandberg joins Facebook as COO
2012 Facebook IPO valuing company at over $100 billion
2021 Facebook changes name to Meta
2023 Meta announces 11,000 layoffs as profits plunge
2024 Sandberg steps down from Meta board

In summary, Sheryl Sandberg’s resignation from Meta’s board closes a significant chapter for the company as it pivots its business towards an uncertain metaverse future led by Mark Zuckerberg. Sandberg helped transform Facebook into a wildly successful advertising business, but leaves Meta in a period of slower growth and declining profits. Her departure also raises further questions around Meta’s executive leadership as Zuckerberg assumes more direct responsibility across the company. While Sandberg departs after 14 impactful years that made Meta one of tech’s most valuable companies, significant challenges remain around pivoting to new platforms with largely unproven business models.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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