Despite plagues of locusts, hurricanes and tsunamis, 2004 was not a preamble to the world ending. 🦗 But, was it the beginning of a new ‘dystopian’ world forged by a Harvard drop-out? Facebook, now Meta (FB), was born in an era of heady liberal optimism aiming to do good in the world, all while clipping the ticket. First, Meta made hundreds of millions. Then in 2008, mother of two, Google exec Sheryl Sandberg - instigator of Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) lucrative advertising model fueled by the phrase ‘don’t be evil’ - was headhunted as Meta’s COO. Frying pan, fire? 🔥
As the adult in the room, Sandberg was a steady hand on 23-year-old CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s shoulder, paving the way for the global platform to reach beyond just being a social network. Within three years of two ‘bergs at the helm, with Sandberg's advertising prowess, Meta saw titanic revenue growth, from US$150 million to US$3.7 billion. Then in 2012, the company that torpedoed MySpace and Bebo from the metasphere listed on the US share markets. This elevated Sandberg to the billionaires club alongside 103 other women, a mere 8% of all billionaires at the time. 🙄
Having domesticated the Facebook frat pack, the ‘PowerPoint Pied Piper in Prada ankle boots’ penned her Lean In corporate feminist manifesto. 📝 Despite Lean In launching a global community, critics labelled her pompom feminism ‘naïve’, calling out failings to tackle societal systemic issues, particularly for women of colour.
After 14 years at the top table, Sandberg now joins The Great Resignation, leaning out of Meta, and her legacy is ‘mixed’. Sure, in 2021, of Meta’s US$117 billion revenue, 97% came from advertising. But under Sandberg’s watch, Zuckerberg was prompted to say ‘I’m sorry’, the company is today facing fresh scrutiny after data management doxxing, and she leaves behind a yawning gender gap for females in tech. …Could the last adult to leave the room please turn out the light? 💡