Here's How Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg Congratulated Marissa Mayer

Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer

That awkward moment where a really great thing happens to someone you know, but it’s kind of bad for you, but admitting that would be tacky, so what do you say?

Yeah, that just happened to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Twitter’s chairman and CEO, along with other tech luminaries, swiftly praised Yahoo’s decision to name longtime Google executive Marissa Mayer its new CEO.

Shortly after the announcement of Mayer as Yahoo’s CEO, Business Insider asked Facebook if Sandberg, who led the recent deal with Yahoo, was planning to make a statement.

After all, Sandberg and Mayer had worked together for years and Sandberg has championed the cause of women executives in the Valley.

Finding just the right thing to say took a while. At the end of the day, Sandberg posted a congratulatory note on her Facebook wall:

Congratulations to Marissa Mayer! Great news for women (and men!) across Silicon Valley. All of us at Facebook look forward to working with you in your new role.

We also want to thank Ross Levinsohn for his leadership in reestablishing an important relationship for Facebook and promoting innovation in the broader tech community.

Here’s why we think it took Sandberg a little longer to come up with a safe way to congratulate Mayer:

  • Mayer is naturally going to be more open to partnerships with Google than past Yahoo leadership. She knows the company’s leadership, products, and technology inside out. That’s not great for Facebook, which wants to keep Google isolated.
  • By hiring a product-oriented CEO, Yahoo’s board has signaled that it’s going to be a technology company first, not a media company. That’s not great for Facebook, which will now face more competition for talent and acquisitions.
  • With the patent settlement and related partnership announcement, Sandberg very firmly threw in her hat with interim CEO Ross Levinsohn. Now he’s not only not the permanent CEO, but his future status with the company is up in the air. That’s not great for Sandberg, professionally speaking.

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