Ms Sandberg is now Facebook’s chief operating officer and worth an estimated $1.7billion (£1.3million). However, she began working for Google in 2001, the search engine giant that dominates most of the internet. She worked her way up to become a valued member of the tech team and reportedly even helped the firm organise an AOL deal to make Google its search engine. She was eventually promoted to be Google’s vice president for global online sales and operations. However, after seven years at the tech company, she started to ask for greater responsibility.
According to a 2019 Business Insider article, Google’s then-CEO Eric Schmidt, offered her the position of chief financial officer, but she declined.
Instead, she suggested she take on the position of chief operating officer. This idea was reportedly rejected so as not to disrupt the management system between Mr Schmidt and Google’s cofounders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
Facebook was just beginning to take off at the time, and Mark Zuckerberg stepped in to persuade Ms Sandberg to come to join his tech firm instead.
In a 2008 New York Times article, tech experts Brad Stone and Miguel Helft said: “Ms Sandberg’s departure is a blow to Google, where she was a well-regarded executive.”
Google’s senior vice president for global sales and business development said: “Sheryl was a valued member of the Google team and we wish her well in her new endeavours.”
Although Facebook was only two years old when she joined in 2008 and run by 22-year-old Mr Zuckerberg, Ms Sandberg has gone to become incredibly successful billionaire. She is widely believed to have helped the company boom into the worldwide platform it is today, bringing key organisational and people skills.
The tech commentators explained: “In building the online operations of AdWords and AdSense, the two programs that accounted for the overwhelming majority of Google’s $16.6billion in 2007, she saw the size of her department swell from four people to thousands of employees.
“She says that Facebook today reminds her of Google back then.”
She explained in the article: “For me that is part of the excitement. I’ve loved being part of the process of helping to build Google. The opportunity to help another young company to grow into a global leader is the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Mr Stone and Mr Helft also pointed out how Ms Sandberg is “only one of a handful” of top executives who have left Google.
“Ms Sandberg’s appointment compass the competition between Google and Facebook intensifies on a number of fronts. The two companies are growing rapidly and find themselves going after many of the same top engineering talent in Silicon Valley.”
An additional source of tension between the two firms was when Google “competed furiously” for some of Facebook’s advertising business last year and lost to Microsoft.
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Ms Sandberg however maintained “they are at their core very different companies”.
The COO is also known for her 2013 bestseller ‘Lean In: Women, Working the Will to Lead’ and her 2017 book ‘Option B’ which focused more on her personal life.
Facebook has endured a great deal of criticism over the last few years, such as when Cambridge Analytica were believed to have utilised the social media platform to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
Ms Sandberg was reportedly criticised when news of this scandal arose two years later, by Mr Zuckerberg for not tackling the troublesome content with greater aggression and authority. Allegedly, she then told friends she wondered if she should be concerned about keeping her job.
More recently, Facebook announced that it planned to ensure the messaging system had end-to-end encryption, so its users could enjoy greater privacy.
However, leading political figures – including Home Secretary Priti Patel – called upon Mr Zuckerberg to renounce such plans, fearing it would put children who use the social network at risk but the Facebook tycoon refused.