Jun 10, 2022 - Business

Meta's Sheryl Sandberg takes a tour of the Triangle

Meta's COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg speaks at the Step Up Together Digital Summit on September 09, 2021. Photo: Getty Images for Step Up.

Sheryl Sandberg, Meta’s outgoing chief operating officer, lavished praise on the Triangle Thursday during her first stop on a planned visit to the area.

Why it matters: Sandberg’s visit comes just days after WRAL reported that Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is planning an expansion to Durham.

  • Meta declined to comment on the report to Axios, and Sandberg did not address it during an appearance in Raleigh Wednesday.

What's happening: Sandberg spoke at an N.C. Chamber event in downtown’s City Market. She is scheduled to tour Durham Friday, where she will meet with small businesses.

What she said: “Obviously you can’t go everywhere so you have to go to the places that matter the most — and this area has been a leader in technology and a real source of innovation around the world,” Sandberg said at the event.

  • "What we see coming out of this area," she added, "are great opportunities for investment, great opportunities for hiring people as employees, but also really solid opportunities to invest in creators and small businesses."
  • Sandberg gave shout-outs to several local businesses, like 321 Coffee, and creators, such as North Carolina native and internet superstar Mr. Beast.

Also notable was Sandberg's appearance on stage with N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein, who — along with 47 other U.S. attorneys general — sued Facebook in 2020 over claims it abused its market power.

  • Stein and Sandberg met privately following their remarks. Stein’s office declined to comment on what the two discussed.

State of play: Sandberg focused heavily on struggles faced by small businesses, including rising costs and impacts of the Omicron variant, which kept customers away and snarled supply chains.

  • 24% of North Carolina small businesses laid off workers in January, Sandberg said, citing Meta’s most recent survey of small businesses.
  • Sandberg said many small businesses depend on Facebook’s targeted advertising, “because they can’t advertise to the whole country or whole world.”

Yes, but: Facebook’s targeted advertisements have been negatively impacted by ad-tracking changes Apple put in place on its devices last year.

  • Regulators and consumers have also become more critical of target ads, Axios reported.
  • Sandberg said that was part of the motivation for meeting with small businesses across the country.

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