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Sheryl Sandberg, Metas second-in-command, leaves the embattled firm

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SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA

When i took this job in 2008, I hoped I’d maintain this role for five years, wrote Sheryl Sandberg on her behalf Facebook page on June 1st. With that the principle operating officer of Meta, the internet sites parent company, announced her resignation. The entire year she joined Facebook made $272m in revenue. This past year turnover reached $118bn. Apart from Mark Zuckerberg, Metas boss, nobody did more to create the tech behemoth, which boasts a lot more than 2bn users all over the world.

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In 2008 Facebook was in its infancy. Mr Zuckerberg, then 23 years-old, had no concrete plans to create it a viable business. Ms Sandberg have been running Googles advertising operation, after stints at McKinsey, a consultancy, and Americas Treasury. A compulsive organiser, she was induced to supply adult supervision. She handles things I dont desire to, Mr Zuckerberg once said. That included commercial strategy and staffing, along with politics.

Ms Sandberg flourished in the role. She masterminded the firms growth being an ad platform. By 2010 Facebook was profitable. This past year only Alphabet, Googles parent, earned more advertising revenue. Among her books, Lean In, became synonymous with female empowerment in the boardroom. All of this helped cement her place as Mr Zuckerbergs second-in-command.

But in the last couple of years speculation grew that the partnership was fraying. Mr Zuckerberg apparently blamed Ms Sandberg for a scandal which involved the sharing of Facebook users private data with third parties by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy. Other reports claim that the Trump years added extra strain. As a vocal Democrat she became less able to advocating for the firm in Trumpian Washington. Meta denies there exists a problem. Ms Sandberg says she actually is leaving to pursue her philanthropic work.

The departure comes at a tumultuous time for Meta. Fewer teenagers are registering to Facebook. Even Instagram, Metas youth-friendly platform, is losing out to TikTok, a hipper rival. New privacy rules introduced by Apple allow users to opt out of ad-tracking. Which makes Facebook less valuable to advertisers. Meanwhile lawmakers are increasingly worried about misinformation on social media marketing.

Mr Zuckerberg wants the firm to go all-in on the metaverse. In the last year, the firm has bulked up its virtual-reality teams, ploughing $10bn in to the effort. It plans release a four new headsets by 2024. As a digital-ads guru, Ms Sandberg could have found herself adrift at a company veering towards hardware.

The exit of Mr Zuckerbergs adult supervisor appears to alarm investors; Metas share price dipped by 3% on the news headlines. Also it leaves his firm looking such as a one-man show. He could be the only real founder still calling the shots at among Americas tech giants. Reports were already swirling that his management style had are more iron-fisted, taking big decisions with less counsel. Without his long-term partner, he might begin to cut a far more solitary figure.

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This short article appeared available portion of the print edition beneath the headline “Leaning out”

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From the June 4th 2022 edition

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