After 14 years as the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg has resigned.
After 14 years as one of the most powerful figures at a company that transformed Silicon Valley, the chief operating officer saw Facebook through multiple controversies and transformed it into the profitable juggernaut it is today announced she will step down from her role as chief operating officer of Facebook on Wednesday.
She witnessed the company's rapid rise and ongoing storm of scandals throughout her time at Facebook, now Meta. Following the publication of her book Lean In, which became a key credo for women in the office, Sandberg became a divisive symbol for corporate feminism.
Facebook has faced attention in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data breach, the January 2021 attack on the US Capitol, and, most recently, documents obtained by whistleblower Frances Haugen that highlighted some of the platform's most damaging effects.
While the controversies have left her with a mixed legacy, her impact on Facebook's profitability – and the whole social media sector – is unmistakable, according to Debra Williamson, an analyst at Insider Intelligence who has followed the firm since its inception.
"There have been a lot of debates about Meta, but from a purely business sense, what she developed at Facebook is pretty significant, and it will go down in history," she remarked.
She aided in the transformation of the company's advertising business strategy, transforming it into the $117 billion revenue behemoth it is today in 2021.
The controversies that occurred during her tenure have prompted activists to ask for her resignation in recent years, calling her legacy as a women's rights pioneer into question. According to Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of women's rights group UltraViolet, under Sandberg's watch, Meta platforms became "a rightwing playground where misogyny, bigotry, and disinformation" spread.
According to Scott Galloway, a professor at the New York University Stern School of Financial, she will be remembered not only for her business legacy, but also for her tenure as a public figure for the corporation.
In her absence, up-and-coming Meta executives, such as Nick Clegg, the company's head of global relations, and Adam Clegg, the company's CEO, are expected to make more public pronouncements.
Meanwhile, according to the hate speech watchdog group Media Matters for America, the concerns at the centre of congressional investigations and public indignation are unlikely to alter after Sandberg's departure.
In reaction to her resignation, Zuckerberg announced a new focus on developing a content team that will depend more largely on artificial intelligence, despite activists' suggestions that the business invest more significantly in human moderators.
This transition coincides with Meta's larger shift away from social networking and toward virtual reality. After investing billions of dollars in the "metaverse," an augmented and virtual reality arena where individuals may communicate through avatars in a shared world, the company rebranded from Facebook to Meta in October 2021.
According to Williamson, the metaverse initiative comes as Apple's new privacy policies have upended advertising networks that are key to the company's business model.
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