Sheryl Sandberg Offered To Help A Major Facebook Competitor Staff Up, And Her Timing Was Really Strange

In late 2013, Facebook offered to acquire Snapchat for more than $US3 billion. Snapchat turned Facebook down. An email written by Snapchat board member Mitch Lasky describes the decision as a difficult one.

“[Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel has] been oscillating back and forth between appearing to want to sell the business and wanting to go long twice a day,” Lasky sent to fellow board member Michael Lynton on October 31, 2013.

By November 18, the decision had been made. Snapchat would not be selling itself to Facebook. “[Zuckerberg] was disappointed that the deal didn’t get done…” Lasky wrote in an email then to Spiegel.

The emails were unearthed this week as part of a massive cyber crime on Sony, which leaked 32,000 confidential messages from executives at the company. The CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Michael Lynton, is on Snapchat’s board.

Another email, however, seems to suggest Facebook didn’t have many hard feelings about Snapchat’s rejection. 

On November 27 2013, about one month after Snapchat declined the $US3 billion+ offer, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg sent an email to Lynton.

The email generously offered to help Spiegel staff up his executive team with some of Sandberg’s many industry contacts.

“A few really good people are interested in working with Evan at Snapchat in a role like mine,” Sandberg wrote Lynton. “If he ever wants to hire anyone, let me know and I can give him names.”

A few really good people are interested in working with Evan at Snapchat in a role like mine. If he ever wants to hire anyone, let me know and I can give him names.”

Lynton took her up on it. “Can I put the two of you in touch directly?” he wrote back. “That is a very kind offer.” 

“A role like mine” would imply that Sandberg was offering to help Snapchat find a COO. And coincidentally, Snapchat found a COO one month later.

On December 3 2013, Snapchat announced that it had hired Instagram’s business lead, Emily White, to be its new chief operating officer. White and Sandberg are close; the pair worked together briefly at Google and White was her “protégé” there. Sandberg then offered White a job at Facebook, where she rose through the ranks to essentially become COO of Instagram, a top Snapchat competitor.

Why would Sandberg offer her contacts — and a star like White — to Snapchat?

To be nice and helpful, it seems. Sources familiar with the deal say the hiring of White just days after Sandberg’s email was a coincidence. White had already been in discussions with Snapchat, and Sandberg was surprised to learn about it.

Also, Sandberg’s note didn’t specifically offer up Facebook employees to fill missing chairs in Snapchat’s board room. It simply said “friends,” and Sandberg has a ton of those.

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