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Tipsheet

Is This Why Sheryl Sandberg Decided to Leave Facebook?

Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP, File

When Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced she was leaving Facebook parent company Meta earlier this month, the news came as a bit of a surprise after her 14 years with the company. But new reporting in The Wall Street Journal suggests there may be more to her departure than merely a decision to move on.

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Apparently, Meta lawyers are investigating Sandberg's "use of corporate resources" and looking at "behavior going back several years" according to people familiar with the matter who spoke to WSJ. The investigation centers "on the extent to which staffers worked on her personal projects."

Meta's investigation has been going on since "at least last fall" WSJ's sources explained, and "a number of employees have been interviewed" in the probe:

It includes an examination of the work Facebook employees did to support her foundation, Lean In, which advocates for women in the workplace, as well as the writing and promotion of her second book “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy,” which focused on her grieving process following the sudden death of her husband, SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg, in 2015, the people said.

The Wall Street Journal previously reported that the investigation included a review of Ms. Sandberg’s use of corporate resources to help plan her coming wedding. That is a small piece of the investigation, according to the people familiar with the matter, who said it involves a broader review of Ms. Sandberg’s personal use of Facebook’s resources over many years.

Sandberg has told her colleagues that her decision to leave Meta after more than one decade was "because she was burned-out and weary of continuing her role as a 'punching bag' for Meta's critics" and wasn't "eager" to tackle Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg's Metaverse project "not least because it doesn't directly entail the use of her core strengths in building advertising businesses."

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When it comes to the investigation into her use of Meta resources, WSJ reported that people close to Sandberg said the probe "irked her in recent months" but claimed it "played no role in her decision to leave the company later this year."

A spokesperson for Sandberg told WSJ that "Sheryl did not inappropriately use company resources in connection with the planning of her wedding," while Meta declined to comment for the WSJ story.

Depending on the result of Meta's investigation, Sandberg could be required to repay her soon-to-be former employer for the staff time spent on personal projects, but there could also be subsequent SEC violations adjudicated, although WSJ cited Meta sources as acknowledging the nature of what those violations might be was unknown. 

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