SAN FRANCISCO -- The escalating crisis over Facebook's handling of users' personal information has some people asking: Where was Sheryl Sandberg? Mark Zuckerberg's second-in-command runs Facebook's operations and oversees its advertising business, placing her in a nearly unrivaled role of responsibility when as many as 87 million Facebook users had their data siphoned by Cambridge Analytica, a British firm with ties to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. "Sheryl did an unparalleled job, the best any person has ever done in any company at creating a business," said David Kirkpatrick, author of the Facebook Effect and founder of the Techonomy conference business. But the lack of vigilance over security and privacy has imperiled that success, he said. "If Mark hired her to set policies, something went wrong, because the policies didn't get set," Kirkpatrick said.
Facebook's already terrible year is ending on a new low, as Mark Zuckerberg and his beleaguered executive team battle another share price slide, this time triggered by new revelations about the company's relaxed attitude to the privacy of its 2.2 billion customers' data. Shares dropped more than 7% on Tuesday after it was revealed that the company had bent its own data rules for clients including Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, Microsoft and Sony. The latest damaging report, published by the New York Times on the back of a District of Columbia lawsuit accusing the social media giant of exposing residents to political manipulation by "failing to protect" user data during the 2016 US presidential election, will surely be disagreeable to Zuckerberg, Facebook's 34-year-old founder, chief executive and controlling stockholder. But it is Sheryl Sandberg, former chief of staff at the US treasury under Larry Summers and the woman brought in a decade ago to be the "adult" in Facebook's executive ranks, who is largely taking the heat for the company's mounting operational, financial, political and public relations challenges. Clearly, Sandberg has much to account for as chief operating officer.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Facebook's annual shareholder meeting Monday will likely be much ado about nothing -- even though one of its board members, Peter Thiel, generated a barrage of headlines over his secret funding of a lawsuit that may bankrupt Gawker. That's because the board of Facebook, like Google, has engineered a structure that puts founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in control of its destiny. And the second-most influential person at Facebook has already made it clear that Thiel will remain on the board. "Peter did what he did on his own (against Gawker Media), not as a Facebook board member," Facebook's chief operating officer and director Sheryl Sandberg said at the Code Conference earlier this month. "We didn't know about it.
Mark Zuckerberg barely even thought of Facebook as a business. The first time I met him, in September 2006, he effused in big-picture terms about what he called Facebook's "mission": "Helping people understand the world around them." His scope and focus impressed me, so I gave him what I meant as a big compliment. I told him he seemed like a natural CEO. He wrinkled up his face as if I had insulted him. "I never wanted to run a company," the then 22-year-old replied, even as he admitted that "a business is a good vehicle for getting stuff done." As I covered his company as a journalist in the months and years that followed, it became clear that doing something meaningful was his highest priority.
Think you had a bad day? Facebook reported its second quarter earnings Wednesday and the results, which were worse than expected, sent the company's stock into free fall, wiping out more than $100 billion off Facebook's market value. SEE ALSO: Facebook's top security exec urges company to collect less user data The social media company reported revenue of $13.23 billion and 1.47 billion daily active users. Both numbers were just shy of analyst expectations, which had put revenue at $13.36 billion and daily active users at 1.49 billion. The miss wasn't entirely unexpected, despite analysts' predictions.