Sheryl Sandberg, long-time lieutenant of Mark Zuckerberg and former COO of Meta, reportedly reached her limit with Zuckerberg’s decision to shift the company’s focus away from social media and towards the metaverse. The metaverse is an immersive virtual world accessible through virtual and augmented reality headsets, and Zuckerberg invested billions of dollars in this venture, causing dissatisfaction among shareholders as the company’s stock faced challenges.
Reality Labs, Meta’s division responsible for VR and AR technology, reported a substantial operating loss of $3.7 billion recently. Over the past year, Reality Labs has lost a staggering $21.3 billion, although Meta’s stock price has somewhat recovered due to Zuckerberg’s “year of efficiency,” marked by layoffs and restructuring. Despite this, Meta’s stock price rose by more than 156% in the last year.
Sandberg’s relationship with Zuckerberg also strained over time, partly due to the physical distance that grew during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, they would regularly meet in person at Meta’s headquarters, but that changed during COVID. As the pandemic hit, some Meta employees stayed at Zuckerberg’s estate in Hawaii, but Sandberg did not.
The disillusionment with the metaverse and the physical distance contributed to Sandberg’s decision to step down as COO last year after a remarkable 14-year tenure at Meta. She still serves on the board of directors but has become disengaged from the metaverse’s development.
During the same period, other long-time executives also left the company, and Zuckerberg replaced them with less high-profile figures, consolidating power within a small inner circle of advisors.
Meanwhile, Zuckerberg has been raising his public profile, showcasing his personal life, including becoming a father to a third child, engaging in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and publicly teasing a potential cage match with tech rival Elon Musk.
As Meta navigates the challenges of the metaverse and adapts to internal changes, the future remains uncertain for the company. The outcome of its ventures and its CEO’s high-profile endeavors will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of Meta’s success in the evolving tech landscape.