13.4 C
Saturday, June 3, 2023

Sandberg’s legacy: ‘Facebook would not be Facebook without Sheryl’

Must read

Sheryl Sandberg supposed to spend simply 5 years at Facebook when she joined in 2008 as Mark Zuckerberg’s right-hand girl. Instead, she stayed 14 years, changing into one of the recognisable, and polarising figures, in Silicon Valley. 

When she steps down as chief working officer of Facebook, now referred to as Meta, this autumn, she is going to go away behind a blended legacy. On the one hand, she has constructed a picture as a seasoned govt and feminine position mannequin who helped develop a $538bn firm by supercharging its digital promoting machine. 

But Sandberg has additionally turn into a lightning rod for criticism, accused of trying to brush controversies over moderation and privateness beneath the rug, as Facebook lurched from scandal to scandal after the 2016 US election.

“Facebook would not be Facebook without Sheryl,” stated David Jones, chief govt of The Brandtech Group and former chief govt of promoting group Havas. “She built the foundation that allowed Facebook to grow into what it became — good and bad.” 

For Sandberg and Zuckerberg, the second marks a crossroads, as the ability duo, who’ve drifted aside in recent times, now search to remake their pictures individually after years of scrutiny.

Zuckerberg has been targeted on his imaginative and prescient for the metaverse, at a time when Facebook’s share value is flailing, progress is slowing and competitors is rising. Sandberg, a dedicated Democrat, has stated she intends to give attention to her household and philanthropic endeavours, amid hypothesis that she could enter politics. She will stay on Meta’s board. 

Sandberg additionally leaves beneath a cloud following a report by The Wall Street Journal alleging she had pressured the Daily Mail to drop unfavorable protection of her former boyfriend and Activision Blizzard chief govt Bobby Kotick. Meta stated the matter is now closed.

Separately on Thursday, the Journal reported an investigation into her use of firm sources to plan her forthcoming marriage ceremony to advertising and marketing govt Tom Bernthal. A Meta spokesperson stated of the report: “None of this had any impact on her personal decision to leave.”

Sandberg has been credited with reworking a scrappy start-up manned by twenty-something “tech bros” into an enviable digital advert empire in the course of the first half of her tenure. She proclaimed that she was “put on this planet to scale organisations” — and he or she did. According to Facebook’s preliminary public providing filings, in 2009 the corporate’s gross sales stood at $777mn. By 2021, Meta generated $117bn in income. 

Her success, partially, got here all the way down to her meticulous consideration to element and her prowess as a consummate networker, associates say. Marketers describe her spending extra time with promoting executives than her rivals did, similar to her former employer Google, and internet hosting glitzy dinners at her Menlo Park home to woo purchasers. She would hearken to, after which act on, their calls for, they stated.

“She played an important role in getting Mark Zuckerberg to take the advertising community very seriously,” stated Jones.

Sandberg additionally surrounded herself with shut allies, primarily ladies, from her earlier roles at Harvard, the Treasury and Google — dubbed “Friends of Sheryl Sandberg”, or FOSS. Many noticed the FOSS phenomenon as Sandberg championing ladies in alignment along with her company feminism manifesto, Lean In; others bemoaned the creation of such cliques.

“When you had her behind your back, it was incredibly empowering, but if you don’t have the Sheryl blessing, it can be very limiting,” one former senior staffer stated.

Sandberg’s potential to work the room introduced in enterprise, and was essential to her institution of Facebook’s public coverage and communications workforce. She personally took up the position of lobbyist-in-chief, assembly with regulators and lawmakers whereas Zuckerberg targeted on product innovation. 

As Silicon Valley boomed, members of Congress actively pursued conferences with Sandberg earlier than the 2016 election in a bid to embrace the tech sector, in keeping with former colleagues. But it didn’t final. 

Her public profile as Zuckerberg’s second-in-command left her within the line of fireside — in entrance of lawmakers, purchasers and the general public — as the corporate was hit by a collection of scandals following the 2016 election.

“Sheryl was always the soft power with the phone calls and charm offensive when Facebook faced a crisis,” one promoting company govt stated. 

The adverts enterprise mannequin she pioneered has additionally come beneath scrutiny. Critics and civil society teams have argued that poisonous and provocative posts have been rewarded in a bid to seize customers’ consideration, whereas its harvesting of person knowledge for concentrating on additionally contributed to privateness lapses. 

Sandberg additionally developed a popularity for failing to determine points then changing into defensive after they erupted into scandals, in search of to manage press narratives and push back regulators.

“It’s not about what she did — it’s about the response. Many of these things were unintended consequences. But you then have to turn around and act,” stated one other promoting govt. 

This so-called delay, deny, deflect method was utilized to her dealing with of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in addition to the revelations of Russian disinformation campaigns across the 2016 election, in keeping with a number of experiences.

At instances, it escalated into finger-pointing. When The New York Times in 2018 revealed that beneath Sandberg’s watch, Facebook employed Definers Public Affairs, a Republican-leaning consultancy, to unfold misinformation about opponents and critics.

More not too long ago, she precipitated a backlash for minimising the notion that Facebook performed a task within the occasions resulting in the January 6 storming of the US Capitol, arguing that it was “largely” organised on different platforms.

Some expressed sympathy for her place; Zuckerberg, in spite of everything, is the last word resolution maker. “She felt cornered around those things, which continued to increase the ‘deflect’ approach,” a former senior worker stated. “She could never get out of the crouching position because there’s just crisis after crisis after crisis coming up for the company.”

Her departure doesn’t come out of the blue, in keeping with insiders. In current years, Sandberg had stepped again from the limelight, and her affect has waned, as tensions with Zuckerberg simmered. 

“Year over year, the gulf between Sheryl and Mark and what they kind of thought should be done from a content moderation standpoint certainly grew,” the previous worker stated, including that Zuckerberg’s free expression stance was clashing with Sandberg’s need for tighter moderation. 

In his missive about Sandberg’s departure, Zuckerberg stated that Javier Olivan, the corporate’s chief progress officer, will tackle a “more traditional COO role” during which he shall be “focused internally and operationally”. 

Despite Sandberg being a “superstar who defined the COO role in her own unique way”, Zuckerberg wrote that “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 organised separately from our products”.

The shake-up consolidates Zuckerberg’s personal energy as he takes on most of the individuals who used to report on to her.

Zuckerberg described the transfer because the “end of an era”. But with it, he additionally signalled his intention to start out a brand new one — during which Sandberg’s earlier position, with all of its energy and breadth, will not exist. 

Source: www.ft.com

- Advertisement -

More articles

- Advertisement -

Latest article