Photo: Sheryl Sandberg
Yesterday, Kevin Roose of New York Magazine predicted that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will leave the company within a year.Roose based his prediction on several factors, most of which are logical:
- Sandberg has done what she was hired to do at Facebook: Help the company build a massive, profitable, fast-growing, and mature business.
- Sandberg has made her fortune: She is now a billionaire.
- Sandberg obviously feels at least one additional calling in life beyond being a world-famous and extraordinarily successful executive: She wants to help women succeed, with the aim of developing full equality in the professional world. (Sandberg’s forthcoming book, Lean In, will quickly become an international best-seller).
- Sandberg has also demonstrated an interest in and talent for working in the public sector, and people have been speculating about a political future for her for years.
- Sandberg has climbed as high as she can climb at Facebook: Unless Mark Zuckerberg falls ill, it seems unlikely that the CEO job will open up (and it’s actually not clear that she would want the job in any case).
Roose also suggests that staying much longer at Facebook could only hurt Sandberg. A privacy scandal could develop, for example. Or the company could falter.
That’s one point in which I, for one, disagree. I think if Sandberg were to leave Facebook now, there would be a sense of unfinished business. The company’s stock is still about 30% below the level at which the IPO priced last spring, and my guess is that Sandberg would like to stay at the company until it is viewed as an unblemished success–or at least until the IPO has been completely forgotten.
(The stock price is not in any way Sandberg’s responsibility, and she probably understands this. But I’ll bet she still feels a sense that she has work left to do.)
So my guess is that Roose’s time frame is too short, that Sandberg will be at Facebook for more than another year–perhaps as long as 3-5 more years. But I would not be shocked if he were right and she left within a year.
One thing I definitely agree with Roose about is that Sandberg has a future in politics.
Whether she would be willing to put up with all the ridiculous crap that goes along with elected office remains to be seen. But there’s at least one big glass ceiling left to shatter in this country, and Sheryl Sandberg is in an excellent position to shatter it.
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