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Former Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg to leave board amid AI boom

Part of a thinning generation of Silicon Valley female leaders, Sandberg stepped down as chief operating officer of Meta in 2022 — after more than 14 years in the role

Sheryl Sandberg in 2019. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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Former Meta chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg is leaving the company’s board of directors after 12 years, marking the end of her leadership of the transformative — and often controversial — social media giant.

Sandberg, who helped turned the company from a viral social media site for college kids into one of the most profitable digital-advertising businesses in the world, announced she was stepping down from her role as COO in 2022. She left Meta during a difficult financial period marked by multiple rounds of layoffs and revenue losses.

Since Sandberg’s departure from the C-suite, the company has evolved into a dramatically different entity. Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, after laying off tens of thousands of workers, has sought to remake its culture to become more efficient and focused. Meanwhile, Meta has thrust its resources toward big bets of generative artificial intelligence and virtual-reality-powered services — and away from its original big blue app.

“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 Wednesday. “After I left my role as COO, I remained on the board to help ensure a successful transition.”

Sandberg wrote that she plans to continue to serve as an adviser. Javier Olivan, a longtime Meta executive, replaced Sandberg as chief operating officer but took on a less outwardly visible role.

Zuckerberg commented on the post that Sandberg’s contributions had been “instrumental in driving our success.”

“Thank you Sheryl for the extraordinary contributions you have made to our company and community over the years,” he wrote. “I am grateful for your unwavering commitment to me and Meta over the years. I look forward to this next chapter together!”

Sandberg, who spent 14 years at Meta as COO after a stint at Google, was also often the company’s face in Washington during its most controversial moments. She defended the company after the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal, when a Trump-affiliated consultancy siphoned data from millions of Facebook users, as well as the revelations that Russia attempted to use Facebook to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Sandberg, who championed women’s empowerment in the workplace, is leaving the board at a time when a generation of top female leaders in Silicon Valley is thinning out.

Since stepping down, Sandberg has increased her political activity. Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, she announced a $3 million donation to the American Civil Liberties Union to fight abortion restrictions in statehouses. Most recently, she has spoken against sexual violence against women during the Israel-Gaza war.