The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.

One of the most successful American women in the world was called the symbol of evil.


Source: Medusa

2018 year was not just bad for Facebook, but the worst in history. As a result of a series of scandals related to the sale of user data, the company has lost almost 25% of its value since the beginning of the year (and when compared to its peak in July, the drop was 40%), while management’s attempts to settle the consequences of these scandals have failed. The main culprit of what is happening is most often not called the founder and head of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, but the operating director, Cheryl Sandberg.


A Harvard graduate who previously worked in senior positions in the US Treasury and Google, joined Facebook on 2008, and in two years made the company profitable. In just one year, Sandberg has become one of the most hated corporate executives in the world.

In 2014, Forbes magazine released the annual 100 list of the most influential women, placing Cheryl Sandberg, Facebook's operating director, in ninth place. Together with her, Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama were in the top ten of the rating. 45-year-old Sandberg was in this company not only for achievements in the field of IT and active charity work, but also as a symbol of women's success: a year before that she had published the book “Lean In” (in the official Russian translation - “Do not be afraid to act” , can be translated as "Navali" or "Push Up"). The book has become an international bestseller, and its title is the basis of the philosophy that a woman can succeed both in her career and in her family: if you “push”, nothing is impossible.

In 2017, Cheryl Sandberg ranked fourth in the list of influential women - second only to Merkel, Teresa May and Melinda Gates. Michelle Obama did not even hit the top twenty - but just a year later, while promoting her own book, the former first lady of the United States spoke about the failure of Lean In philosophy.

“The idea that you can get everything at once is a lie,” said Michelle Obama in December of 2018. - It is impossible to achieve everything at the same time. In life, it usually happens that no matter how hard you lean on, it still doesn’t work. ”

This phrase perfectly illustrates how Sheryl Sandberg developed the outgoing year. Over the past twelve months, from a man who aroused admiration and envy, from a woman who had to change American corporate culture forever, she became almost the most hated corporate manager in the United States, if not all over the world. All the same people who, a couple of years ago, called her books a universal recipe for success for all modern women, now consider Sandberg as flesh of the very same corporate culture - elitist and irresponsible.

Sheryl Sandberg was born in Washington 1969 in the family of an ophthalmologist and a French teacher. Since childhood, she was an excellent student, played sports (and even taught aerobics classes in high school), easily entered Harvard University after school, and in 1991 she received a bachelor's degree in economics, graduating with honors from one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

While studying at Harvard, Sandberg met Lawrence Summers, a professor of economics, who in 1990's worked as chief economist at the World Bank, and then as US Secretary of the Treasury. Summers became her friend and mentor; At the beginning of 1990, he called Cheryl to the World Bank as a research assistant (she was working on infectious diseases in India), and in 1996 she headed his staff at the Ministry of Finance. In the meantime, Sandberg managed to return to the university and graduate from Harvard Business School.

Photo: Facebook / Sheryl Sandberg

In 2001, when Summers resigned as minister, Sheryl Sandberg got a job at Google. At that time, the search engine just launched the Google AdWords contextual advertising service, which in the future will become the main source of profit for the Internet giant. Sandberg just dealt with the issues of monetization. In 2001, she had four people in her team, in 2008, when Sandberg left Google, four thousand specialists worked there.

After six years in the corporation and reaching the post of vice president for global online sales, Sandberg was ready to enter the top management of the company - but there was no place for her. Google CEO Eric Schmidt offered her the post of chief financial officer, she refused, considering this position not sufficiently responsible. “She was interested in the position of the operating director, but all the decisions at Google were taken by the three founders: Eric Schmidt, Larry Page and Sergey Brin,” wrote New Yorker magazine about Sandberg in 2011. “They did not want to complicate this structure in the company.”

Negotiations with Eric Schmidt, according to the magazine, took place in December 2007. In the same month, Cheryl Sandberg met Mark Zuckerberg.


The meeting, which determined the fate of both Sandberg and Facebook, took place on December 24 2007 at a Christmas party at the home of a businessman, former Yahoo operating director Dan Rosensweig. 38-year-old Sheryl Sandberg was by that time one of the most successful women in the American IT industry, and Mark Zuckerberg, in the words of the author Buzzfeed, was an “23-year-old child” who unexpectedly became the head of one of the world's most recognizable IT companies.

Facebook was growing at a tremendous pace, but did not make money. The founder understood that he lacks his own experience to lead such a corporation, and he devoted the second half of the year to finding people who could help him. As a partner, he was recommended, including the vice president of Google, but Zuckerberg did not dare to call the head of the four thousand department of the giant corporation with a proposal to move to a company that earns almost nothing. Only when he saw Sandberg at the Christmas dinner, he decided to go and meet. They talked for more than an hour and agreed to meet in the new year.

The first working meetings of Zuckerberg and Sandberg were held in the strictest secrecy and, according to journalists, were like secret dates. They could not meet in public places - in Silicon Valley such meetings would inevitably attract the attention of their industry colleagues - and Zuckerberg's bachelor’s apartment was not suitable for the reason that the head of Facebook lived at that time in a tiny studio without furniture. As a result, they met at Cheryl's apartment and didn’t stay up late: Google’s vice president got used to starting her day at five in the morning with checking the mail and every time put the future employer at the door no later than midnight.

By February, they agreed: Sheryl Sandberg will become the operational director of Facebook and will be engaged in the monetization strategy. Despite Google’s efforts to dissuade it, Sandberg retired from the corporation in March 2008, and went to work for Zuckerberg. Already in 2010, Facebook was a plus.

Photo: Facebook / Mark Zuckerberg

Sheryl Sandberg's arrival on Facebook is most often described as the appearance of an “adult person” in a company. Prior to 2008, yesterday's students managed the largest social network under the guidance of a prodigy prodigy (Mark Zuckerberg left Harvard in his second year to focus on developing his social network). Sandberg by this time was not just a good manager: in her person the company received a manager with an economic education, work experience in Washington and a thorough understanding of how the network economy works.

Back in February, 2008, the Facebook leadership, formulated its strategy in the following way: “You need to make the coolest site, and then the money will appear.” By the end of spring - the third month of the work of Cheryl Sandberg - the company adopted a monetization strategy through advertising and sponsorship content.

When Facebook began to make a profit, Sandberg actually became the second person in the company - she was engaged in sales, marketing and development, and was also responsible for personnel, relations with the media and the public. In 2012, Sheryl Sandberg joined Facebook on the board of directors, becoming the first woman in its composition - and soon became a billionaire: as of the beginning of 2012, she owned more than 40 million shares of the company. After Facebook went public, Sandberg sold most of it. Now Forbes estimates her fortune at a half billion dollars.

Sheryl Sandberg is considered to be the main responsible for the fact that Facebook has become the only technology company that received the status of “super-lows” (unicorns are called IT start-ups whose market value is estimated at one billion dollars and higher; Facebook's score as of 2012 year exceeded 100 billions). According to Buzzfeed, Sandberg herself turned out to be in the world of IT companies with something like a unicorn: her name has become a household name, and every large company wants to get its Cheryl.

Photo: Facebook / Sheryl Sandberg

“It’s unique in that it combines extremely high IQ with very high emotional intelligence. In one person, this is very rare, ”Mark Zuckerberg said about Cheryl Sandberg to Time magazine in 2013.

These qualities Sandberg recalled by journalists who wrote at the end of 2000's that a new operating director could not only make Facebook profitable, but also change the company's corporate culture (and, more broadly, the entire Silicon Valley) - a culture that is now often described as “male student hostel".

At the beginning of 2010, Sandberg, who while studying at Harvard, dealt with women's issues and even founded an organization at the university called Women in Economics and Government, had the opportunity to talk about these issues at the national level. In 2013, she published the book “Do not be afraid to act”, 2017 published her second bestseller - Option B (in Russian translation it is called “Plan B. How to survive a misfortune, gather strength and begin to live again”). It contained tips and advice on how to remain steadfast in the face of professional, family, and other life difficulties.

Photo: Facebook / Sheryl Sandberg

Two years before the release of Option B, Sandberg's husband and father of two of her children, businessman Dave Goldberg, general director of SurveyMonkey, died in the past, he was a top manager at Yahoo. Cheryl often spoke about him in public speeches, emphasizing the importance of the family (and at the same time about the principles of equal marriage, in which both partners equally share responsibility for providing for the family, raising children, financial costs and even time for rest).

By the beginning of 2018, the reputation of a real modern woman was firmly established for Cheryl Sandberg, who not only succeeded in career and in the family, but was really ready to change the world around herself - in matters of both professional and public relations - to change the situation other women in modern society.

Photo: Facebook / Sheryl Sandberg

After 12 months, no trace of that reputation remained. Despite the fact that Sheryl Sandberg is still a rich and influential woman, she has become a symbol of everything that is wrong with this industry from the savior of Facebook and the reformer of the IT industry.

17 March 2018, the British The Observer and the American The New York Times, published investigations that Facebook provided Cambridge Analytica with millions of users of its users for political research - the results of these studies were allegedly used during the 2016 presidential campaign of the year; Cambridge Analytica’s targeting technologies applied Donald Trump’s campaign headquarters.

To assess the effectiveness of these developments and the degree of their influence on the election result, a special commission was created in the US Congress. In April, Mark Zuckerberg spoke to her. Facebook began to lose users - and the market value. Since then, there have been several scandals - it turned out that the company provided user data to manufacturers of smartphones; hackers broke into 400 thousands of accounts; data from users of foreign countries were used for commercial purposes (Sheryl Sandberg herself reported to the commission of the Congress).

In November 2018, The New York Times published a new investigation, claiming that the scandals surrounding Facebook users led to the actions of the operating director: it was Sandberg who determined the company's policy in protecting user data (and, in particular, allowed them to be sold to , not thinking too much about the consequences and risks); it was Sandberg who refused to attach importance to the internal reports about the political activity of the “Russian trolls” using the social network during the 2016 campaign of the year; it was she who refused to recognize the depth of the crisis in which the company found herself in March 2018.

Moreover, the proposed response policy was as far as possible from the ideals of transparency. For example, according to The New York Times, Sandberg instructed her subordinates to hide and conceal information about the provision of user data to third parties, deliberately downplayed the scale of leaks, and finally organized campaigns against critics of Facebook in the press and social networks - including hiring political consultants, so that they start searching for compromising information on George Soros (who during his speech at the Davos forum in January 2018 compared Facebook with an omnipotent monopoly and declared social network a threat to the whole world).

“Sandberg’s attempts to respond to scandals [around Facebook] are turning into new scandals over and over again,” wrote The New York Times in late December.

Photo: Facebook / Sheryl Sandberg

18 December 2018 of the Year Sheryl Sandberg published a statement in the official Facebook blog that acknowledged mistakes and promised that the company would henceforth “better listen to its users, look more closely at the processes around the platform and work actively to protect basic civil rights”.

However, this statement did not encourage the critics of Sandberg - the most fierce of them were yesterday's admirers of the “Lean In” philosophy. As of the end of 2018, Sheryl Sandberg remained the person most often blamed for all the failures of Facebook - despite the fact that it was hardly the decisions that brought the company to its current position, it was made by it alone.

2018’s troubles didn’t affect Mark Zuckerberg’s reputation — or they didn’t. As a result, experts fear that Facebook may want to get rid of Sandberg in favor of public opinion, which is set up radically.

“People want someone to pay [for what happened],” quotes The Guardian corporate governance specialist from the University of Delaware Charles Elson. - Of course, Mark Zuckerberg as the founder cannot become this victim, so the public switched to Sandberg. Responsibility for management decisions should rest with Zuckerberg as CEO. Having got rid of Sandberg, he will only make it clear that he is ready for radical steps, but this does not help in solving the main problem: how to organize work with user content in a global social network. ”

So far, however, Mark Zuckerberg has expressed full support for his operational director. In November, 2018, the founder of Facebook, told CNN that Cheryl Sandberg plays an important role in the company, and this will not change in the future. “For the past ten years, she has been a very important partner for me. I hope that we will work together in the next decades, ”Zuckerberg said.


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