Who is Mark Zuckerberg's new number 2? This is a trick question.

For more than a decade, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg began and ended each week by meeting. The symbolism of the ritual was clea...


For more than a decade, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg began and ended each week by meeting.

The symbolism of the ritual was clear. It was intended to signal that Mr. Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Meta, and Ms. Sandberg, the chief operating officer, were in step with each other at the top of the company.

But when Ms Sandberg, 52, said on Wednesday that she would leave Meta this fall, she crystallized an unspoken change at the tech giant: Mr. Zuckerberg no longer has a clear No. 2.

While Mr. Zuckerberg has appointed Javier Olivan, a longtime executive, to take over Ms. Sandberg’s job when she leaves, the importance of the role of chief operating officer has diminished at Meta, formerly known as Facebook. . Mr Zuckerberg, 38, instead has four equally important executives

responsibilities and who report to it and direct important decisions.

Mr Zuckerberg made the structural change because he wanted to consolidate his control over all parts of the business, three people close to him said. Although Mr. Zuckerberg has always been the undisputed boss, with the majority of the company’s voting shares, he shared power with Ms. Sandberg when he was a young businessman and needed help to develop the business. But with more than 18 years of experience under his belt, he wants to wield his full power and be more clearly identified as Meta’s sole leader, the people said.

The top four lieutenants are Andrew Bosworth, the chief technology officer; Nick Cleggthe President of Global Affairs; Chris Cox, the product manager; and Mr. Olivan, who was the head of growth, Mr. Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post about Ms. Sandberg’s departure on Wednesday.

Each of the four men has important responsibilities. Mr. Clegg is the public face and ambassador for Meta, while Mr. Bosworth pushes the company into the immersive world of so-called metaverse. Mr. Cox oversees Meta’s family of apps – Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and Facebook – and Mr. Olivan will be responsible for analytics, infrastructure and growth.

But none of them have as much power as Ms. Sandberg, when she effectively ran all business operations while Mr. Zuckerberg focused on developing Facebook’s products.

Mr Zuckerberg alluded to the power shift on Wednesday in his Facebook post. He said he had “not planned to replace Sheryl’s role in our existing structure”, adding that Meta “has reached the point where it makes sense for our product and business groups to be more tightly integrated, rather than having all business and operations functions organized separately from our products.

RA Farrokhnia, professor at Columbia’s Business and Engineering Schools, said the change in management structure made sense because Meta invested in the metaverse and moved away from the social media model that Ms. Sandberg started an advertising business and championed for years.

“Moving in this direction requires a more decentralized and more traditional governance structure,” Farrokhnia said. “You have multiple people coming together where the sum of the parts becomes much greater.”

A spokesperson for Meta declined to comment and declined to provide interviews with executives.

For years, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg had well-defined responsibilities, which employees often referred to as the “Sandberg side” and the “Mark side.” Ms. Sandberg led the business, policy and legal teams with significant autonomy, while Mr. Zuckerberg was responsible for the engineering and product teams.

Credit…Meta

That started to change in 2020 after Facebook dealt with scandals involving privacy, misinformation, and other toxic content on the platform. Mr. Zuckerberg told his teams that he finished apologizing and wanted to devote more time and attention to the innovative products the company was designing.

Since then, Mr. Zuckerberg has assumed more control over public messaging and political decisions than Ms. Sandberg used to. He also recruited people with expertise in public policy and promoted long-serving executives who were loyal to his vision.

Three executives he promoted were Mr. Bosworth and Mr. Cox, who have been with the company for 16 years, and Mr. Olivan, who joined the company nearly 15 years ago. They were among Mr. Zuckerberg’s earliest recruits and were instrumental in creating the early versions of Facebook.

Credit…Meta

Mr Olivan, 44, known internally as Javi, joined Facebook as head of international growth and has steadily risen through the ranks. He is unknown but oversaw Facebook’s rapid expansion and was closely involved in maintaining the company’s technical infrastructure.

Mr. Bosworth, 40, is seen as an enthusiastic and sometimes brash leader of Mr. Zuckerberg’s vision. In January he was promoted to next chief technology officer. He oversees the virtual and augmented reality labs, which make products like the Quest virtual reality headsets that are central to Mr. Zuckerberg’s push for the metaverse. He and Mr. Zuckerberg are also close friends who vacation together.

Mr. Cox, 39, who became chief product officer in 2005, has often been described by employees as the heart of the business. He left Facebook in March 2019 but returned in June 2020, suggesting Mr Zuckerberg may have named him as his successor.

During Mr. Cox’s absence, some of his teams have been reassigned to report directly to Mr. Zuckerberg or other executives, said two senior Meta employees who have worked with Mr. Cox since his return. They said he hadn’t taken on the kind of expansive role he once had with thousands of engineers reporting to him.

Credit…Meta

Mr Clegg, 55, joined the firm in 2018 after a career in British politics, including a stint as Deputy Prime Minister. Ms. Sandberg hired him to take over handling Facebook’s thorny political issues globally, a task that was once hers. Over time, he became something of a de facto head of state for the company, dealing with world governments and defending Meta on a regulatory level. In February he was promoted to the President of Global Affairs, reporting to Mr. Zuckerberg.

At Meta, insiders have long speculated who a potential successor to Mr. Zuckerberg would be, should he ever leave. Ms Sandberg’s impending departure has now shortened that list and left no clear answer.

“Over the years, few people other than Sheryl have emerged as a potential successor to Mark,” said Katie Harbath, director of public policy at Meta, who left the company last year. “It makes sense that Mark would want options for possible successors.”

She added: “It can be risky to just focus on one person.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Who is Mark Zuckerberg's new number 2? This is a trick question.
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