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Sandberg's exit may not be a big blow for Facebook-parent Meta

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By Nivedita Balu

(Reuters) - Sheryl Sandberg's exit from Meta Platforms Inc comes at a crucial time for the Facebook parent as it pivots to "metaverse" in the face of slowing ad revenue, although Wall Street analysts say her departure will not be as significant.

As second-in-command to founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, Sandberg transformed Facebook from a buzzy startup into a technology behemoth and helped grow its ad revenue to over $100 billion from $272 million in her 14 years with the company.

She was also the face of the company in dealing with regulators in Washington as the social-media network became embroiled in a series of controversies, including a data scandal that involved British firm Cambridge Analytica.

"Meta is a more mature business with set processes as Sandberg moves on," JMP Securities analyst Andrew Boone said.

"While we acknowledge Sandberg's instrumental role in building Meta's advertising business, the company now has the infrastructure and processes in place to weather most departures, including Sandberg's."

A Harvard graduate, Sandberg joined Facebook from Google in 2008, after having served as chief of staff for the U.S. Treasury Department under former President Bill Clinton.

Javier Olivan, currently chief growth officer, will take over as the company's COO when Sandberg leaves.

"I'm more concerned about the ultimate outcome of the metaverse and the impact of earnings over the next handful of years than I would be about who is sitting in the role of COO," said Thomas Hayes, managing member at Great Hill Capital LLC in New York.

MKM Partners analyst Rohit Kulkarni said former British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, who was hired in 2018 to run the company's global policy organization, could play a larger role in dealing with regulators.

(Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)

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