Longtime Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, who announced earlier this week she was stepping down after a 14-year run at the company, was under an internal investigation into whether she used company resources to plan her wedding, according to a report.
Sandberg was chief operating officer and No. 2 to Mark Zuckerberg for most of her time at the company, which changed its name to Meta last year. When she announced her departure on Wednesday, she made no mention of the internal probe, saying only she intended to focus on philanthropy.
“I am beyond grateful to the thousands of brilliant, dedicated people at Meta with whom I have had the privilege of working over the last 14 years,” Sandberg said on Facebook. “Every day someone does something that stops me in my tracks and reminds me how lucky I am to be surrounded by such remarkable colleagues. This team is filled with exceptionally talented people who have poured their hearts and minds into building products that have had a profound impact on the world.”
But Sandberg, who helped build Facebook into one of the world’s most valuable companies, reportedly resented a review by Meta into her upcoming wedding to marketing CEO Tom Bernthal. Company officials were still investigating as of May whether she misappropriated Meta resources to plan the ceremony, sources told the Wall Street Journal. Previously, the company investigated whether Sandberg pressured the Daily Mail to drop a story about her then-boyfriend, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.
— Anthony DeRosa (@Anthony) June 3, 2022
A Meta spokeswoman denied that either probe factored into Sandberg’s decision to leave.
“None of this has anything to do with her personal decision to leave,” said Caroline Nolan, a Meta spokeswoman.
Sandberg, who joined Facebook in 2008 when founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was 23 years old, runs a nonprofit called Lean In, which campaigns against sexual harassment in the workplace and the purported “gender wage gap” while advocating for paid family leave.
Zuckerberg lauded Sandberg’s work at the company in another post to Facebook.
“Sheryl architected our ads business, hired great people, forged our management culture, and taught me how to run a company,” he said. “She created opportunities for millions of people around the world, and she deserves the credit for so much of what Meta is today.”
Sandberg — who will remain a member of Meta’s board of directors after leaving her position in the fall — was hired at Facebook after working as Google’s vice president of global online sales and operations. She has also worked at the World Bank and served in the Clinton administration’s Treasury Department. In the past, Sandberg financed Democratic candidates and made a $1 million donation to Planned Parenthood’s political arm in 2019.
“When Sheryl joined me… I barely knew anything about running a company,” Zuckerberg remarked. “We’d built a great product — the Facebook website — but we didn’t yet have a profitable business and we were struggling to transition from a small startup to a real organization.”
Last week, businessman Peter Thiel stepped down from Meta’s board to pursue other projects — namely, helping to elect Republican candidates in the midterm elections. In total, Thiel is backing four Senate candidates and 12 House candidates.