Sheryl Sandberg to step down from Meta board after 12 years

18 Jan 2024

Sheryl Sandberg in Davos. Image: Moritz Hager/World Economic Forum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 DEED)

Crediting CEO Mark Zuckerberg with ensuring Meta is ‘strong and well-positioned’ for the future, Sandberg said this feels like the ‘right time’ to step away.

Sheryl Sandberg, former Meta chief operating officer and one of the most recognisable figures in tech, will be stepping down from the company’s board this year.

Sandberg announced in a Facebook post yesterday (17 January) that she will not stand for re-election to Meta’s board of directors this May with “a heart filled with gratitude and a mind filled with memories.”

This comes less than two years after she stepped down from her role as COO after more than 14 years being second in command at the company formerly known as Facebook. She has been a board member for 12 years.

Sandberg said that she remained on the board after leaving her role as COO to help ensure a smooth transition and that, since then, teams under the leadership of CEO Mark Zuckerberg have “proven beyond a doubt” that Meta is “strong and well-positioned” for the future.

“So, this feels like the right time to step away,” she wrote.

Sandberg was first introduced to the company when it was simply The Facebook, a social network for US college students. She joined in 2008 when co-founder Zuckerberg was 23 and she was 15 years his senior. She came with experience working in US government and Google and expected to be in her new role for five years.

She was the architect of Facebook’s advertising model, which transformed the free-to-use social network into a revenue-generating engine. Zuckerberg also credited Sandberg with having forged the management culture at Meta and teaching him how to run a company.

The Meta founder thanked Sandberg for her “extraordinary contributions” to the company in a reply to her post on Facebook.

“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. I look forward to this next chapter together,” he wrote.

Sandberg, who is also a writer and founder of philanthropy organisation LeanIn.Org,  said she will continue to serve as an adviser to Meta and “will always be there” to help Meta teams.

“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 went on.

“I will always be grateful to my colleagues and teammates at Meta for all the years of working side by side and all they taught me. And I am particularly grateful to my fellow Meta board members for their lasting friendships, the guidance they provided me for so many years and their stewardship of products that mean so much to people all over the world.”

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Sheryl Sandberg in Davos. Image: Moritz Hager/World Economic Forum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 DEED)

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic