Sheryl Sandberg Will Become COO of Facebook
Facebook will announce that it will hire top Google executive Sheryl Sandberg as COO this afternoon, in a major move that is sure to shake up the company and also deliver a blow to rival Google.
At Google (GOOG), Sandberg is the vice president, Global Online Sales and Operations, a major post in which she runs a large swath of the search giant’s ad operations.
Sandberg is responsible for online sales of Google’s ad and publishing products, bringing experience Facebook sorely needs. She is also politically savvy, having been the chief of staff at the Treasury Department in the Clinton administration.
“She has just about the most relevant industry experience for Facebook, especially since we need to scale our operations and scale them globally,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “And we also share the same values.”
Zuckerberg said there was never a formal search to find someone, but he had always been “looking for someone of Sandberg’s caliber.” They met at a Christmas party and Zuckerberg was impressed.
In addition, many Silicon Valley figures, including Facebook investor Roger McNamee, suggested Sandberg. “What was funny was that I was already thinking about her as a perfect person for this role,” Zuckerberg said.
The pair also spent a lot of time together in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which further solidified Zuckerberg’s resolve to hire her.
At Facebook, Sandberg will oversee a large part of the company, including all sales, human resources, marketing and communications, and business development. The CFO and the technology and product divisions will report directly to Zuckerberg.
Sandberg, who is married to former Yahoo music head David Goldberg and has two small children, also becomes Facebook’s first major executive hire who is a woman.
As to approaching the much larger Google to fill one of its top posts, Zuckerberg said, “I think Google is an amazing company, and we share a lot of values,” adding that “it would be a nice thing” if hiring Sandberg would lead to more cooperation between Facebook and Google.
Last week, BoomTown broke the news that the hot social-networking company was looking for someone to replace the departing longtime Facebook executive Owen Van Natta. In a related post suggesting candidates, I recommended Facebook hire a woman, because of its paucity of top female executives, and named Sandberg as an obvious choice.
Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.