Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg’s partnership did not survive Trump


For Ms Sandberg, the switch to Facebook, a business run by a clumsy 23-year-old dropout, was not as counterintuitive as it might have seemed. She was vice president at Google, but she had hit a cap: there were several vice presidents at her level, and they were all competing for promotions. Eric Schmidt, then chief executive, wasn’t looking for a number 2. Men who weren’t as good as she was being recognized and receiving higher titles, former Google colleagues said.

“Despite leading a larger, more profitable and faster growing company than the men who were her peers, she did not receive the title of president, but they were,” Kim Scott recalled, leader of the advertising sales division. Mrs. Sandberg was looking for something new. She said yes to Facebook.

Mr Zuckerberg appealed to Ms Sandberg to deal with growing unease about the business in Washington. There, she professionalized the motley office, which had been opened by a recent college graduate whose main job was to help lawmakers set up their Facebook accounts. She represented Facebook as a member of President Barack Obama’s Jobs and Competitiveness Council, as well as other union executives and leaders. After a board meeting, she accompanied Mr. Obama on Air Force One to Facebook headquarters, where the president held a town hall to discuss the economy. But soon there were cracks in the facade.

In October 2010, she met with FTC Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz to try to hush up a privacy investigation. In her office, the relaxed and confident Ms Sandberg started the meeting by claiming that Facebook has given users more control over their data than any other internet company and that the company’s biggest regret was not clearly communicating the operation of its privacy policy.

FTC officials immediately challenged her, according to people who attended the meeting. Mr Leibowitz noted that, on a personal level, he had seen his middle-aged daughter struggle with Facebook’s privacy settings, which automatically made it easier for strangers to find users like her. “I see it at home,” he said.

“It’s so awesome,” Ms. Sandberg replied. She went on to describe the social network as “empowering” for young users. Mr Leibowitz had not meant to say that was good news – and pointed out to him that the FTC was deeply concerned about confidentiality.

Ms. Lever, a spokesperson for Facebook, called the meeting “substantial,” with a detailed explanation of the company’s privacy policies. She added that the characterization of the tension in the play “distorts what really happened.”

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