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In Surprise Move, Sheryl Sandberg Leaves Facebook After 14 Years

Sheryl Sandberg stands in a navy dress in front of a bright red background with the word Facebook at the top left in white
Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg announced on Wednesday she is stepping down from the company after 14 years at the Silicon Valley giant.
(Lino Mirgeler
DPA/AFP via Getty Images)
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Sheryl Sandberg, one of Silicon Valley's most prominent executives and who helped build Facebook into a global tech juggernaut, is stepping down as chief operating officer of Meta, Facebook's parent company.

Sandberg, 52, made the surprise announcement in a Facebook post on Wednesday, writing that: "When I took this job in 2008, I hoped I would be in this role for five years. Fourteen years later, it is time for me to write the next chapter of my life," Sandberg wrote. "I am not entirely sure what the future will bring — I have learned no one ever is."

Sandberg will stay on the board of Meta, according to the company. Javier Olivan, another executive at the company, will take over as chief operating officer when Sandberg departs the role this fall.

Her exit comes two months after The Wall Street Journal reported that Sandberg urged a British tabloid to back away from reporting on her former boyfriend, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.

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The story, which was never published, was reportedly on court filings showing that an ex-girlfriend of Kotick's had received a temporary restraining order against him after harassment allegations.

The Journal reported that Sandberg's advisors worried the story could hurt Sandberg's image as an advocate for women, so a team including Facebook employees worked to have the story killed.

Facebook was reviewing whether Sandberg's actions violated company rules, according to the Journal.

Earlier this year, Kotick announced he was stepping down from Activision Blizzard amid a sexual harassment scandal. At the same time, Microsoft announced it would be acquiring the video game company.

A Meta spokeswoman said Sandberg's departure is unrelated to reports about the Kotick incident.

"She was not pushed out or fired," Meta spokeswoman Nkechi Nneji said.

Sandberg was a pivotal figure in helping the social network become one of the most dominant social media platforms in the world, with nearly 3 billion users around the globe.

Beyond serving as the No. 2 at Facebook, Sandberg has become a celebrity author, penning "Lean In," a book that became a touchstone in the push for greater gender equality in the workplace.

She has also served as the public face of the company as it reeled from crises over the years, including in the months following the Cambridge Analytica scandal over how the data-mining firm breached the personal data of millions of Facebook users in 2014. The firm would later assist the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump.

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