Sheryl Sandberg stepping down from Facebook parent company Meta

When Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebookrecruited a Google executive named Sheryl Sandberg to his social network in 2008, he said he had hired her because “she has just about the most relevant industry experience for Facebook, especially since we need to scale our operations and scale them globally.”

Sandberg answered in kind. “The opportunity to help another young company to grow into a global leader is the opportunity of a lifetime,” she said at the time.

Zuckerberg was 23, and Sandberg was 38.

Today Zuckerberg is the same age that Sandberg was when he brought her on board, and Facebook has ballooned into a behemoth. Over the past year, Zuckerberg has begun taking the social network into a new direction — toward the immersive online world of the so-called metaverse — and renamed the company Meta. And Sandberg, 52, has increasingly lowered her profile as Zuckerberg has taken over more of her responsibilities and reorganized the company for its new chapter.

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On Wednesday, Sandberg said she was leaving Meta — which also owns Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger — this fall. She said she had expected to be at the company for roughly five years rather than the 14 she has served. She added that she planned to focus on her personal philanthropy and her foundation, Lean In, and that this summer she would marry Tom Bernthal, a television producer.

“I believe in this company,” said Sandberg, who will remain on Meta’s board. “Have we gotten everything right? Absolutely not. Have we learned and listened and grown and invested where we need to? This team has and will.”

Sandberg’s decision to leave Meta was her own, and she informed Zuckerberg in a phone call over the weekend, two of her employees said. Sandberg wanted Zuckerberg, who was in Hawaii, to be the first to know, one of the people said.

In a Facebook post Wednesday, Zuckerberg praised Sandberg, saying it was “unusual for a business partnership like ours to last so long.” He named Javier Olivan, a longtime product executive who has overseen much of Facebook’s growth over the past decade, as Meta’s next chief operating officer.