UPDATED: Shares of Meta Platforms climbed 5.4% Thursday, coming after longtime COO Sheryl Sandberg — one of the most powerful women execs in the tech industry — announced she was stepping down from the role.
The rise in Meta’s stock price came amid a broader uptick in tech stocks, as the Nasdaq Composite closed up 2.7% for the day. In after-hours trading Wednesday, Meta’s stock price had dropped as much as 3% on the news that Sandberg, a 14-year veteran of the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, was departing. Year to date, Meta shares are still down 41% amid the downturn in financial markets and a sustained sell-off in tech stocks.
On May 28, Sandberg informed Meta of her decision to resign from her position as COO “after a transition period,” according to an SEC filing. She will continue to serve on the company’s board of directors. Meta’s board expects to appoint Javier Olivan, most recently chief growth officer and VP of cross-Meta product and infrastructure, to succeed Sandberg after the transition period.
When Sandberg joined CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook in 2008, she helped build the platform into an advertising powerhouse — and one of the biggest and most profitable companies in the tech industry. But Sandberg is leaving as Meta’s growth has dramatically decelerated. The company in Q1 reported its slowest revenue growth in almost 10 years, amid “headwinds” including increased competition including from TikTok as well as from Apple’s iOS data-privacy changes and regulatory changes.
Sandberg also has been a source of controversy during her tenure at Facebook. She was criticized for mishandling the company’s response to the 2018 disclosure that Facebook user data was improperly obtained by Cambridge Analytica, a consulting firm used by Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Sandberg also drew criticism for her comments after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, saying that “I think these events were largely organized on platforms that don’t have our abilities to stop hate, don’t have our standards and don’t have our transparency.” Documents later leaked to the media showed that Facebook was unprepared for the events leading up to and including Jan. 6 and that company execs downplayed concerns about the spread of disinformation on the platform.
“When I took this job in 2008, I hoped I would be in this role for five years,” Sandberg wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday. “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. But I know it will include focusing more on my foundation and philanthropic work, which is more important to me than ever given how critical this moment is for women.”
Zuckerberg, in a post on Facebook, wrote that he doesn’t plan to replace Sandberg’s role “in our existing structure. I’m not sure that would be possible since she’s a superstar who defined the COO role in her own unique way. But even if it were possible, I think Meta has reached the point where it makes sense for our product and business groups to be more closely integrated, rather than having all the business and operations functions organized separately from our products.”