A household name in the adtech and business world, Sheryl Sandberg, former Chief Operating Officer of Meta, officially resigned from Meta this week. Think what you will of her, and her work at Meta over the years, her resignation is still a regrettable day for women’s representation across C Level leadership. When a pivotal female leader steps down from the second largest advertising company in the world, it is a bitter blow for female leadership – whether you like it or not.

 

If you don’t know Sheryl’s CV, let me give you a quick rundown. Joining Facebook at the tender age of 23 (yes just 23!), the ex-Google employee quickly set about transforming then Facebook, now Meta over the next 14 years from a company of 400 employees to 77,000 today. Along the way, amongst many hurdles, there have also been many triumphs for Sandberg. Not only did she help facilitate the purchase of two of Metas hugely successful products (Instagram & Whatsapp), she created a hugely successful advertising business. Sandberg’s leadership saw Meta’s revenue soar to $117 billion last year, of which approximately 97% came from it’s ad revenue business. If that isn’t a successful businesswoman, I don’t know what is.

 

It’s no secret that women are good for business (no bias over here at ADMATIC). If you listen to the 2020 report from the federal government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), it was found that businesses led by a female CEO had a “12.9% increase in the likelihood of outperforming the sector on three or more performance and profitability metrics.” Not bad.

 

However, success doesn’t come easy; and Sandberg is no exception. Among the many criticisms and pitfalls over the years, she has been heavily criticised of data mining Meta’s users. That is, utilising users’ personal data for profit, in exchange for a value offered by Meta, in the form of a ‘’free’’ social media platform – that I dare say everyone one of you reading this uses. Meta is pretty open about this value exchange, and says you’re free to leave its platforms if you disagree – a sentiment I do tend to agree with. No one is forcing any one of us to use Facebook at the end of the day. Sandberg has successfully created a billion dollar advertising business by providing something billions of people want – a ‘free’ social media platform, and happily signed up for.

 

What does Sandberg’s departure mean for Meta?

Firstly, she’s not being replaced in a direct sense, although her replacement has been announced. The advertising legacy platform has been built, the major work is done. Of course, there are always advancements to be made in the world of advertising but certainly not in the same giant leaps seen in Sandberg’s time. Moreover, with Facebook rebranded into Meta, it signals a new era for the tech giant into the metaverse, long term moving away from advertising reliance as it’s major source of revenue. I’m sure you’ll join Mark in recognising Sandberg for her pioneering success as a female leader, and smart business acumen.