Sheryl Sandberg, one of the most senior women in corporate America, has announced her resignation as chief operating officer at Meta Platforms.

The Silicon Valley executive, who has served as Mark Zuckerberg’s principal deputy since the early years of Facebook, will leave the world’s largest social media group in the autumn.

Sandberg, 52, will step back from key duties “over the next few months” as Meta grapples with mounting regulatory scrutiny and concerns on Wall Street over an advertising slowdown.

“When I took this job in 2008, I hoped I would be in this role for five years,” she wrote in a Facebook post last night . “Fourteen years later, it is time for me to write the next chapter of my life.” The executive, who did not explain the reasons for her departure, said she is “not entirely sure” what the future will hold. She will remain on Meta’s board of directors and intends to focus more on philanthropic work.

Shares in Meta dropped $5, or 2.58 per cent, to close at $188.64 following Sandberg’s announcement.

Zuckerberg, 38, called it the “end of an era”. He said Javier Olivan, chief growth officer, will succeed Sandberg, but stressed he would not appoint a direct replacement with the same responsibilities she has accrued.

Other top executives, such as Sir Nick Clegg, the former British deputy prime minister, have been promoted in recent months. Clegg, 55, is now Meta’s president for global affairs.

Meta, based in Menlo Park, California, was founded by Zuckerberg in 2004 and has nearly 78,000 staff. It owns Facebook, the social network, Instagram, the photo and video sharing app, and the messaging services WhatsApp and Messenger. It went public in New York in 2012 and has a market value of $510.5 billion.

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Sandberg has been credited with leading the company’s transformation from a scrappy start-up established in a Harvard dorm into a global technology corporation. The former Google executive played a pivotal role in the construction of Meta’s advertising business, which generated revenue of almost $115 billion last year.

Announcing her decision to depart, she acknowledged the acute criticism the company has faced. “The debate around social media has changed beyond recognition since those early days,” Sandberg wrote last night. “To say it hasn’t always been easy is an understatement. But it should be hard. The products we make have a huge impact, so we have the responsibility to build them in a way that protects privacy and keeps people safe.”

In his own post, Zuckerberg said business partnerships rarely last as long as the one he has shared with Sandberg, who he said “deserves the credit for so much of what Meta is today.”

“I’m sad that the day is coming when I won’t get to work as closely with Sheryl. But more than anything, I’m grateful for everything she has done to build Meta. She has done so much for me, for our community, and for the world — and we’re all better off for it.”


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