Publicly traded companies typically disclose big personnel announcements outside of normal trading hours, with the hope that investors will think twice before they trade. But not Meta Platforms. It rolled out a series of coordinated announcements on its top executives’ Facebook pages, alongside an interview with Bloomberg, about 30 minutes before the close of trading to announce that longtime COO Sheryl Sandberg was stepping down from that post.
Why bother waiting? Despite Sandberg’s 14-year tenure, mostly as Facebook’s second-most powerful executive after co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, her departure had seemed increasingly inevitable over the last few years. She was too closely bound to Facebook’s unsavory dealings, such as its delayed disclosures that Russian operatives had used Facebook to manipulate the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as Facebook’s efforts to contain the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica data-breach scandal. She seemed sidelined as Zuckerberg shifted management of his favored projects, such as virtual reality, to top lieutenants like Andrew Bosworth. Then last year, the company’s crown jewel, its automated ad system, buckled as Apple’s privacy changes made its ad targeting less effective.