A Woman’s Place: Can Sheryl Sandberg Upend Silicon Valley’s Male-Dominated Culture?

ken auletta

In 2007, the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, knew that he needed help. His social-network site was growing fast, but, at the age of 20-three, he felt ill-equipped to run it. That December, he went to a Christmas party at the home of Dan Rosensweig, a Silicon Valley executive, and as he approached the house he saw someone who had been mentioned as a possible partner, Sheryl Sandberg, Google’s 30-eight-year-old vice-president for global online sales and operations. Zuckerberg hadn’t called her before (why would someone who managed four thousand employees want to leave for a company that had barely any revenue?), but he went up and introduced himself. “We talked for probably an hour by the door,” Zuckerberg recalls.

It turned out that Sandberg was ready for a new challenge. She had even talked with Donald Graham, the C.E.O. of the troubled Washington Post Company, about becoming a senior executive there. After the holidays, Zuckerberg e-mailed her, and they had the first of many dinners. They met at the Flea Street Café, around the corner from her home in Atherton, but then decided that they needed more privacy. His tiny Palo Alto apartment—which had almost no furniture—wouldn’t work. So for six weeks they met for dinner once or twice a week at Sandberg’s six-bedroom home. Sandberg, who goes to bed early and starts e-mailing at 5 A.M., often had to usher the nocturnal Zuckerberg out at midnight. “It was like dating,” says Dave Goldberg, Sandberg’s husband and the C.E.O. of the online company SurveyMonkey. Sandberg says they asked each other, “What do you believe? What do you care about? What’s the mission? It was very philosophical.” Social networking seemed to have better prospects than newspapers and she didn’t want to move to D.C., so she gently turned down Donald Graham.

Read the rest of this article at the New Yorker.

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