Jan 17, 2024 - Business

Exclusive: Sheryl Sandberg to exit Meta's board

Sheryl Sandberg at the 2022 Women's Media Awards in New York City. Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Former Meta chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg plans to leave Meta's board of directors, Axios has learned. She will become an informal adviser to the company in May.

Why it matters: Sandberg joined the firm when it was a small startup named Facebook and helped it become one of the most powerful companies in the world.

Details: “With a heart filled with gratitude and a mind filled with memories, I let the Meta board know that I will not stand for reelection this May,” Sandberg wrote In a Facebook post announcing her departure.

  • "After I left my role as COO, I remained on the board to help ensure a successful transition," Sandberg said.
  • Acknowledging CEO Mark Zuckerberg's leadership, Sandberg said he and Meta's current leadership team "have proven beyond a doubt that the Meta business is strong and well-positioned for the future, so this feels like the right time to step away."
  • "I will always be grateful to Mark for believing in me and for his partnership and friendship; he is that truly once-in-a-generation visionary leader and he is equally amazing as a friend who stays by your side through the good times and the bad," Sandberg added.
  • She also expressed gratitude to her colleagues and teammates at Meta as well as Meta's board members.

What they're saying: In a comment, Zuckerberg thanked Sandberg "for the extraordinary contributions you have made to our company and community over the years." 

  • "Your dedication and guidance have been instrumental in driving our success and I am grateful for your unwavering commitment to me and Meta over the years," he added.

Catch up quick: Sandberg left the company she helped build as an executive in September 2022 after 14 years. She remained on Meta's board following her departure, a seat she held for the past 12 years.

  • In announcing her departure, Sandberg said she aimed to focus on more philanthropic work.
  • In the time since leaving the company as an executive, she has focused more her time on her women's leadership philanthropy, Lean In.
  • More recently, Sandberg has also focused on the conversation around rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war, particularly as it pertains to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The big picture: Under Sandberg's business leadership, Meta's revenue grew 43,000% from $272 million in 2008 to nearly $118 billion in 2021.

  • In the months following her exit, a pandemic-driven advertising slowdown caused the entire ad-supported tech sector to suffer, but in the past year, Meta has been one of the few companies that's been able to regain its momentum, thanks to key investments in artificial intelligence.
  • Sandberg's sales and operations responsibilities were divided among three executives: chief operating officer Javi Olivan, online sales head Justin Osofsky, and global business lead Nicola Mendelsohn.
  • The company's revenues under that new leadership team hit an all-time high in the third quarter of last year, the latest to bepublicly reported.

Between the lines: Sandberg's legacy as a business leader also includes her work advocating for workplace reform in Silicon Valley.

  • She played a key role in modernizing Meta's policies around issues like bereavement leave, paternity leave and family planning support. Those changes have since been adopted by most major U.S. tech firms.

Go deeper: Axios interview: Sheryl Sandberg on her future

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment by Mark Zuckerberg.

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