Sheryl Sandberg and the Death of ‘The Deal’

5 years. That’s how lengthy Sheryl Sandberg figured she’d be spending at Fb, now known as Meta, when she took the job as chief working officer and Mark Zuckerberg’s much-ballyhooed accomplice in 2008. Sufficient time to modulate the corporate’s swaggering tradition into one thing sustainable.

Construct a wildly profitable advert enterprise, and arrange a coverage operation in DC. And to determine herself as a world normal setter for feminine executives. Then she’d be off—perhaps to run for workplace or to move an enormous firm like Disney.

But it surely wasn’t till at present, 14 years later, that Sheryl Sandberg has announced she is leaving the corporate. For an bold company celebrity like Sandberg, 14 years on the identical publish—and never the highest one—is an eternity. Most observers pegged her as leaving a while in the past, both pressured out by the collapse of the corporate’s fame within the wake of relentless privateness and content material administration scandals or just wearied by having to defend it on a regular basis. However she caught round so lengthy that even the corporate’s identify modified.

So who can deny her the flowery prose of her 1,529-word farewell publish—appropriate for a Medium “I’ve acquired private information” essay however loyally posted on the Fb blue app Feed—the place she profusely thanked her colleagues and boasted of all the great issues her firm did for its customers and small enterprise house owners. She even cited some random girl in Poland who sells stuffed animals on the platform. Like each different public communication coming from her, it was rigorously crafted, to the purpose that you would hardly inform the corporate is among the many world’s most castigated. The scathing a part of the information got here not in her upbeat resignation letter, however in Zuckerberg’s farewell to her.

Sandberg’s tenure would at all times be shadowed by the deal she made with Zuckerberg when she joined. Whereas she reported to Zuckerberg, the then-23-year-old CEO gave her large autonomy over sure elements of the corporate—the non-product domains that him the least. It made sense for Sandberg to take cost of promoting adverts. However in response to The Deal, her world additionally included communications, lobbying, coverage, and different non-engineering areas. At one level, the chief safety officer reported to the overall counsel, who reported to Sandberg. When issues fell aside after the 2016 election, the troubles in Sandberg’s world have been gradual to seek out their approach to Zuckerberg. The implications have been disastrous. Zuckerberg later defined to me that he didn’t see The Deal as a mistake, however a necessity. “It will have been unattainable, not having the life expertise in all these areas, to internalize all of the completely different elements of what working an organization might be,” he advised me.

In his publish at present, Zuckerberg dolloped out acceptable gratitude and reward for his departing COO. However whereas Sandberg’s essay painted her tenure within the rosiest tones possible, Zuckerberg’s assertion was an enormous company course correction. He proclaimed that Sandberg’s departure marked the top of an period—after which he mandated modifications to Meta’s group to verify nothing like that period will ever occur once more. Sandberg’s putative successor, Javier Olivan, will assume “a extra conventional COO function,” he wrote. Olivan, who lower his enamel on the corporate’s runaway development group, received’t be working elements of the corporate on his personal, as Sheryl initially did.

A few of that had already been in movement. The primary large change got here final yr when Zuckerberg gave the responsibility for coverage and communications to senior VP Nick Clegg, who previously reported to Sandberg. The chief authorized officer, Jennifer Newstead, was additionally shifted to a Zuckerberg direct report. However at present, whilst Zuckerberg celebrated Sandberg, he ripped up her group and put it extra instantly beneath his management. The top of HR, Lori Goler, will report back to him as properly. That places Maxine Williams, the chief range officer, additionally in Zuckerberg’s area.

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