Source: World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 25, 2013. Copyright by World Economic Forum Photo Michael Wuertenberg

14 years ago, Mark Zuckerberg was a 23-year-old Harvard dropout with a social networking service that he started with his college roommates. In the same year, he was joined by a woman who would go on to revolutionize the business into a multi-billion dollar empire and ensure that its advertising business would go on to churn out billions.

That woman is Sheryl Sandberg, a veteran of Google and Meta’s Chief Operating Officer. After being part of Meta (erstwhile Facebook) for 14 long years, she has decided to leave the company, to almost everyone’s shock. Her announcement via a Facebook post saw Meta’s shares tumble by 4%.

Meta’s current chief growth officer, Javier Olivan, will be taking her role in the multi-billion dollar company, after a transition period this summer. Sandberg will, however, continue to serve on Meta’s Board of Directors. Zuckerberg, for his part, said that her departure marked the “end of an era” and that he does not plan to replace Sandberg’s role in Meta’s existing structure.

“She has taught me so much and she has been there for many of the important moments in my life, both personally and professionally,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post. “I’m going to miss running this company with Sheryl.”

Sandberg wrote that “sitting by Mark’s side for these 14 years has been the honor and privilege of a lifetime,” adding that she was “beyond grateful” to the many “brilliant, dedicated people” at Meta whom she worked with over the past 14 years.

What’s next for one of the most influential women in Silicon Valley? Sandberg wrote, “Fourteen years later, it is time for me to write the next chapter of my life. I am not entirely sure what the future will bring — I have learned no one ever is.”

She went on to add that it will include an increased focus on her foundation and philanthropic work, “which is more important to me than ever given how critical this moment is for women.”

Sandberg has played a crucial role in implementing benefits programs for women employees, such as paid and bereavement leave, support for employees who want to delay having a family, and paid leave for employees who are survivors of domestic violence.

This announcement comes after Sandberg was facing internal scrutiny at Meta. The reason? She had allegedly told the Daily Mail in 2016 and 2019 to not report a damaging story about Activision Blizzard chief executive Bobby Kotick. tw