Sandberg broke the news shortly before the close of trading on Wednesday, after which shares in the company that made her a billionaire fell sharply.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Sandberg reflected in broad strokes on her 14 years at the company and how much it, and the world at large, have changed.
“The debate around social media has changed beyond recognition since those early days,” she wrote. “To say it hasn’t always been easy is an understatement.”
Sandberg said she plans to leave the company this fall and will remain on the company’s board of directors, but didn’t describe her post-Meta plans in great detail.
In a separate post, CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged Sandberg’s move as “the end of an era” while thanking her for essentially building Facebook’s business operations from scratch.
The move signals a massive internal power shift at Meta. As Zuckerberg’s top lieutenant dating back to 2008, Sandberg oversaw a significant portion of the company’s sprawling – and scandal-prone – daily operations.
That includes when Cambridge Analytica, which had ties to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, improperly obtained and used the personal information of as many as 87 million users.
And the time Facebook hired Definers Public Affairs, a Republican opposition research firm, to smear billionaire philanthropist and frequent Facebook critic George Soros.
And the time Sandberg denied the violent Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol could have been “largely organized” on Facebook ― only to have leaked internal documents completely undercut that narrative.
Sandberg’s departure coincides with Meta seeking to reposition itself as a pioneer of what Zuckerberg describes as the “metaverse,” a nascent and somewhat ill-defined virtual reality push. (Critics argue that the rebrand has more to do with rehabbing the company’s well-earned and terrible public image.)
To that end, the new name will become official on June 9, when its stock ticker is scheduled to switch over from “FB” to “META.”