For greater than a decade, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg started and ended every week by assembly collectively.
The symbolism of the ritual was clear. It was supposed to sign that Mr. Zuckerberg, the chief govt of Meta, and Ms. Sandberg, the chief working officer, had been in lock step with one another on the high of the corporate.
However when Ms. Sandberg, 52, mentioned on Wednesday that she would step down from Meta this fall, she crystallized an unstated change on the tech big: Mr. Zuckerberg now not has any clear No. 2.
Whereas Mr. Zuckerberg named Javier Olivan, a longtime govt, to take over Ms. Sandberg’s job when she departs, the significance of the chief working officer position has diminished at Meta, which was previously often called Fb. Mr. Zuckerberg, 38, as an alternative has 4 executives who’ve equally giant duties and who reply to and run main choices by him.
Mr. Zuckerberg made the structural shift as a result of he wished to consolidate his management over all arms of the corporate, three folks near him mentioned. Whereas Mr. Zuckerberg has at all times been the undisputed boss, with a majority of the corporate’s voting shares, he shared energy with Ms. Sandberg when he was a youthful businessman and wanted assist increasing the corporate. However with greater than 18 years of expertise underneath his belt, he needs to train all of his energy and be recognized extra clearly as Meta’s sole chief, the folks mentioned.
The 4 high lieutenants are Andrew Bosworth, the chief expertise officer; Nick Clegg, the president of worldwide affairs; Chris Cox, the chief product officer; and Mr. Olivan, who was the top of development, Mr. Zuckerberg mentioned in a Fb message about Ms. Sandberg’s exit on Wednesday.
Every of the 4 males has main duties. Mr. Clegg is the general public face and ambassador for Meta, whereas Mr. Bosworth is pushing the corporate into the immersive world of the so-called metaverse. Mr. Cox oversees Meta’s household of apps — Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and Fb — and Mr. Olivan will likely be accountable for analytics, infrastructure and development.
However none of them have as a lot energy as Ms. Sandberg used to, when she successfully ran the entire enterprise operations whereas Mr. Zuckerberg centered on growing Fb’s merchandise.
Mr. Zuckerberg alluded to the facility shift on Wednesday in his Fb submit. He mentioned he didn’t “plan to interchange Sheryl’s position in our current construction,” including that Meta “has reached the purpose the place it is smart for our product and enterprise teams to be extra carefully built-in, somewhat than having all of the enterprise and operations capabilities organized individually from our merchandise.”
R.A. Farrokhnia, a professor at Columbia’s Enterprise and Engineering Faculties, mentioned the shift in administration construction made sense as Meta invested within the metaverse and moved away from the social networking mannequin that Ms. Sandberg constructed an promoting enterprise for and championed for years.
“Transferring on this route requires a extra decentralized — and extra conventional — governance construction,” Mr. Farrokhnia mentioned. “You’ve a number of folks coming collectively the place the sum of the components turns into a lot bigger.”
A spokesman for Meta declined to remark and declined to supply interviews with executives.
For years, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg had clear-cut duties, which workers also known as the “Sandberg facet” and “Mark facet.” Ms. Sandberg ran the enterprise, coverage and authorized groups with quite a lot of autonomy, whereas Mr. Zuckerberg was liable for the engineering and product groups.
That started altering in 2020 after Fb handled scandals involving privateness, misinformation and different poisonous content material on the platform. Mr. Zuckerberg instructed his groups that he was accomplished apologizing and wished to focus extra time and a spotlight on revolutionary merchandise that the corporate was designing.
Since then, Mr. Zuckerberg has assumed extra management over public messaging and coverage choices, which Ms. Sandberg used to deal with. He additionally introduced in hires with public coverage experience and promoted longtime executives who had been loyal to his imaginative and prescient.
Three executives he promoted had been Mr. Bosworth and Mr. Cox, who’ve been on the firm for 16 years, and Mr. Olivan, who joined almost 15 years in the past. They had been amongst Mr. Zuckerberg’s earliest recruits, and had been instrumental in constructing the earliest variations of Fb.
Mr. Olivan, 44, who is understood internally as Javi, joined Fb as head of worldwide development and rose steadily by means of the ranks. He’s not a family title however oversaw Fb’s speedy enlargement and was carefully concerned with sustaining the corporate’s technical infrastructure.
Mr. Bosworth, 40, is seen as an enthusiastic and generally brash cheerleader for Mr. Zuckerberg’s imaginative and prescient. In January, he was promoted to be the subsequent chief expertise officer. He oversees the digital and augmented actuality labs, which make merchandise just like the Quest digital actuality headsets which are on the coronary heart of Mr. Zuckerberg’s push for the metaverse. He and Mr. Zuckerberg are additionally shut pals who trip collectively.
Mr. Cox, 39, who turned chief product officer in 2005, has typically been described by workers as the guts of the corporate. He left Fb in March 2019 however returned in June 2020, prompting hypothesis that Mr. Zuckerberg could have been signaling him as a successor.
Throughout Mr. Cox’s absence, a few of his groups had been reassigned to report on to Mr. Zuckerberg or different executives, mentioned two senior Meta workers who’ve labored with Mr. Cox since his return. They mentioned he had not assumed the kind of expansive position he as soon as had with 1000’s of engineers reporting to him.
Mr. Clegg, 55, joined the corporate in 2018 after a profession in British politics, together with a stint as deputy prime minister. Ms. Sandberg employed him to take over dealing with Fb’s thorny political points globally, a job that was as soon as hers. Over time, he has grow to be a form of de facto head of state for the corporate, coping with world governments and advocating for Meta at a regulatory degree. In February, he was promoted to president of worldwide affairs, reporting to Mr. Zuckerberg.
At Meta, insiders have lengthy speculated over who a possible successor to Mr. Zuckerberg could be, ought to he ever depart. Ms. Sandberg’s impending departure has now shortened that record and left no clear solutions.
“Through the years, few of us apart from Sheryl have emerged as a possible successor to Mark,” mentioned Katie Harbath, a director of public coverage at Meta who left the corporate final yr. “It is smart for Mark to need choices for attainable successors.”
She added: “It may be dangerous to solely concentrate on one individual.”