One of the most powerful women in tech, Sheryl Sandberg is stepping down from her role as Chief Operating Officer of Facebook after 14 years with the social media giant.
She made the announcement on Facebook, saying she will focus on her philanthropic work and foundation.
Meta’s share price immediately fell following the announcement, dropping four per cent.
“When I took this job in 2008, I hoped I would be in this role for five years,” she wrote. “Fourteen years later, it is time for me to write the next chapter of my life.”
Sandberg will continue on the Meta board, after becoming the first woman appointed to the board back in 2012 following significant backlash over the previously all male board.
Sandberg steps down after a number of controversial years at Facebook/Meta, most recently including internal research Facebook undertook on the harmful impacts of Instagram on teenage girls, that was leaked to the Wall Street Journal.
Earlier on in her tenure, Sandberg was praised for her work aiming to get women to “lean in” including the book she wrote by the same name. She has long been celebrated for breaking glass ceilings in tech, although many of the lessons she penned back in 2012 are often now criticized for their focus on corporate feminism, and on attempting to fix women, rather than the system of work itself.
Sandberg also penned a book about grief, following the sudden death of her husband in 2015.
She appeared on the cover of TIME Magazine in 2012 under the headline, “Don’t hate her because she’s successful”.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has long described Sandberg as key to the growth of the business. “Sheryl has been my partner in running Facebook and has been central to our growth and success of the years,” he said back in 2012.
In 2021, Journalists at the Wall Street Journal reported on an internal presentation from Facebook in 2019, showing their research that indicated the platform, which has roughly one billion monthly active users globally, is harmful for a large proportion of users, especially teenage girls.
“We make body image issues worse for 1 in 3 teen girls,” one of the slides presented.