“She brought rigor and structure to balance Mark’s creativity. She brought gravity to counter Mark’s occasional carelessness,” Elixirr partner Iliya Rybchin said.
“Replacing Sheryl is a difficult challenge because in many ways she is irreplaceable,” Iliya Rybchin, partner at Elixirr, told TheWrap. “Not just because she’s an outstanding leader, but because Meta and Mark’s needs today are vastly different than they had nearly 15 years ago when she joined.”
In a way, the company isn’t trying to find the next Sandberg. As Zuckerberg noted this week, new COO Javier Olivan, a 14-year veteran who now serves as chief growth officer, will focus on internal operations and become much less outspoken. Instead, the public face of business operations will be Marne Levine, chief business officer reporting to Olivan.
“Javi will become our next COO as he will now lead our in-app ads and commerce products in addition to continuing to lead our infrastructure, integrity, analytics, marketing, business development teams. and growth,” Zuckerberg wrote in his Facebook post. “But this role will be different from what Sheryl has done. It will be a more traditional COO role where Javi will focus internally and operationally, building on his strong background to make our execution more efficient and rigorous.
It’s a departure from the public face Sandberg introduced as Facebook’s first deputy, and the first major change coming to Meta. Alongside Zuckerberg, Sandberg has often shared the stage — and shared the blame — as the company navigated its many challenges over the years, from the Cambridge Analytica privacy breaches scandal to the star pitcher’s revelations. alert Frances Haugen on the company’s awareness of the harmful effects of its platforms. Especially in Facebook’s early days, Sandberg served as a counterweight to Zuckerberg’s business inexperience (she previously ran sales and operations at Google, served as the US Treasury Department’s chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, and worked for the World Bank).
“She brought rigor and structure to balance Mark’s creativity. She brought gravity to counter Mark’s occasional carelessness. During his time there, the business evolved and Mark matured,” added Rybchin. One wonders if Olivan or Levine — or any newbie recruited for a leadership role in the company — will be able to stand up to Meta’s headstrong founder-CEO.
Advertising needs a boost
The second — and perhaps biggest — business challenge for Meta’s new executives is protecting its advertising business. The company runs a global advertising empire, competing with digital advertising giant Google, but lately that revenue has been threatened by Apple’s privacy changes, competition from emerging players like TikTok, as well as macroeconomic factors impacting the technology industry. Apple’s iOS update alone slashed at least $10 billion from the tech giant’s projected 2022 sales, but the financial impact this year is now approaching $12.8 billion, or about 9.7% of the company’s total revenue, according to data firm Lotame.
“Sandberg’s successor will be dealing with a juggernaut that now needs to be optimized for performance without the cover of infinite growth, fixing under-monetized businesses like WhatsApp and Instagram, continuing to shed a TikTok juggernaut “, Mike Woosley, COO of Lotame, said, “and find a way to backtrack on the perplexity of the company in the nebulous world of virtual reality.
Define your metaverse pivot
Zuckerberg has charted a new course for the future of Meta with an ambitious but unproven plan to build the Metaverse, a new cyberworld that blends virtual and augmented reality. The company changed its name last year to reflect the centrality of these initiatives – which will cost billions of dollars of investment in the years to come with no certain promise of profitability. Last year, Meta’s AR and VR division generated $2 billion in revenue but lost $10 billion.
While Zuckerberg has assured investors that his Metaverse pivot is a short-term gamble that will pay off in the long run, many are skeptical or confused about whether the Metaverse will ever take off. “Pivots are great for early-stage startups, but Facebook’s ‘pivot’ to the metaverse has left many in the industry scratching their heads and wondering what that means,” Woosley added.
In the next phase, Olivan and his team will also face greater competition in the global advertising market – not just threats from TikTok and Snap, but from big retailers like Amazon who are becoming increasingly savvy. Marketers are bypassing middlemen like Facebook to go directly to consumers and publishers, said Jake Moskowitz, vice president of data strategy at learning platform Emodo.
“Retailers exhibit better ability to close the loop and greater negotiating leverage with marketers due to the power of shelf space,” Moskowitz said. “Maybe Meta has spent the last decade trying to prevent a new platform from taking its place, [by] the acquisition of rising platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp. But now the threat is not in the category, but rather on either side of their place in the middle of the value chain.
Fixing that other Sandberg legacy
For better or worse, Facebook and the rest of Meta today wouldn’t be where they are without Sandberg. She transformed the platform into a social giant and a global leader in advertising. Yet she has also been at the center of much criticism of Facebook and Instagram – including how they have enabled and even helped amplify hate speech, anti-vaccination and other dangerous and harmful content through a lax content moderation and uncontrolled algorithms. Trump supporters used Facebook groups to connect and organize the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, while Instagram has been accused of contributing to teenage depression, mental health problems and girls body image.
“Sheryl Sandberg knew this was a problem and – like CEO Mark Zuckerberg – she did not act,” Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, said in a statement. “Sandberg leaves Meta, and the social media environment that Facebook helped create, in a far worse place than she found it. Her legacy is to enable trolling, harassment, and abuse.
It wasn’t always an easy job being Sandberg, and as Rybchin pointed out, the question is no longer so much who will replace her – but whether it’s still an attractive job if Meta decides to bring in another COO or expand Olivan’s work. role in other ways.
“When she joined, the company was on the verge of exponential growth with every metric pointing upwards,” he said. “Today the company finds itself at a crossroads with many indicators pointing up or down. …While it is still a dream job in many ways, the challenges and the potential benefits may not make it as rewarding personally and financially as it was for Sheryl.
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