Is Sheryl Sandberg’s Power Shrinking? Ten Years of Facebook Data Offers Clues

Facebook Inc. FB -0.06% has grown at an explosive pace. Since 2012, the year it went public, the total number of employees on staff has grown by an average of 38% a year, hitting 63,404 in June, according to company filings.

That expansion has helped the company scoop up more than a third of the global population as users and gobble up ever more digital-ad dollars. In recent years, facing criticism over problems on its platforms, Chairman and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and other leaders have touted Facebook’s hiring of tens of thousands of people to review content and enforce its rules.

Those public numbers and proclamations tell only part of the story. The Wall Street Journal reviewed 10 years of Facebook annual employee lists, which showed names, titles and managers for Facebook’s staffers and contract workers. The data, part of an array of documents the Journal examined for its Facebook Files series, show which teams under which executives have expanded the fastest, providing an unusually detailed public view of the shifting power centers and priorities of one of the world’s most influential companies.

Mark Zuckerberg

Chief executive officer

First-tier managers

Sheryl Sandberg

Chief operating

officer

David Wehner

Chief financial

officer

Mike Schroepfer

Chief technology

officer*

Chris Cox

Chief product

officer

Javier Olivan

Vice president of

central product

services

Mark Zuckerberg

Chief executive officer

First-tier managers

Sheryl

Sandberg

Chief

operating

officer

David

Wehner

Chief

financial

officer

Mike

Schroepfer

Chief

technology

officer*

Chris Cox

Chief

product officer

Javier Olivan

Vice president

of central product

services

Mark Zuckerberg

Chief executive officer

First-tier managers

Sheryl

Sandberg

Chief

operating

officer

David

Wehner

Chief

financial

officer

Mike

Schroepfer

Chief

technology

officer*

Chris Cox

Chief

product officer

Javier Olivan

Vice president

of central product

services

The findings include:

• Javier Olivan, who oversees teams assigned to expand Facebook’s user base and analyze activity on the platform, has had by far the biggest growth in staffers reporting up to him of all the executives who answer directly to Mr. Zuckerberg in recent years.

• Facebook’s rolls of contract workers have grown even faster than its staff, numbering more than the company’s own employees as of January 2019 and nearing 98,000 this year.

• Sheryl Sandberg, who is chief operating officer and has long been seen as Mr. Zuckerberg’s No. 2, has had her share of Facebook’s staff decline in recent years. Over the past year, though, the legal team, which is part of her portfolio, has grown about 60% faster than the company overall as Facebook confronts antitrust challenges, shareholder lawsuits and other legal problems.

Joe Osborne, a Facebook spokesman, disputed the accuracy of some of the Journal’s numbers. In a written statement, he said: “Imputing Facebook’s priorities based on the company’s org chart is flawed and irresponsible. Many of our initiatives and projects run across different teams and functions, such as our work on privacy or the 40,000 people working on safety and security.”

Product and other teams soar

The data show that teams reporting up through managers who oversee Facebook’s products, analytics, advertising and marketing are growing at a much faster rate than Facebook overall. The expansion of the teams focused on growth has continued since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a period when Facebook also has emphasized its trust-and-safety efforts in response to Russian interference and other problems on the platform.

Change in number of staff since 2016 for executives directly under Mark Zuckerberg

Sheryl Sandberg

David Wehner

Mike Schroepfer

Javier Olivan

Not with the company at the start of 2020.

Change in number of staff since 2016 for executives directly under Mark Zuckerberg

Javier Olivan

Not with the company at the start of 2020.

Mike Schroepfer

David Wehner

Sheryl Sandberg

Change in number of staff since 2016 for executives directly under Mark Zuckerberg

Javier

Olivan

Not with the company at the start of 2020.

Mike

Schroepfer

David

Wehner

Sheryl

Sandberg

Staffers under Mr. Olivan, whose title is vice president of central product services, increased more than 900% in the five-year period, the data show. Chief Product Officer Chris Cox, a longtime Zuckerberg lieutenant who left in 2019 and returned just over a year later, also rapidly expanded his sphere.

Army of contract workers

The company has been adding contractors, known as “contingent workers,” even faster than it has been hiring staff employees. Ms. Sandberg oversees the largest group of contractors. More than 60% of the almost 98,000 contingent workers as of January report up to Ms. Sandberg, by that measure giving her oversight of the largest number of people working for Facebook. Mr. Osborne, the Facebook spokesman, said the Journal’s figure for contingent workers is inaccurate and incomplete, and declined to provide the company’s numbers.

Facebook employees by employment status

Contingent

Facebook employees by employment status

Contingent

Facebook employees by employment status

Contingent

Facebook employees by employment status

Contingent

Sheryl Sandberg has more than 60,000 contingent workers.

David Wehner

Mike Schroepfer

Javier Olivan

Not with the company at the start of 2020.

Facebook employees by employment status

Contingent

Sheryl Sandberg has more than 60,000 contingent workers.

David Wehner

Mike Schroepfer

Javier Olivan

Not with the company at the start of 2020.

Facebook employees by employment status

Contingent

Sheryl Sandberg has more than 60,000 contingent workers.

David Wehner

Mike Schroepfer

Javier Olivan

Not with the company at the start of 2020.

Many of those workers are responsible for reviewing content that has been flagged as potentially violating Facebook’s rules. Those moderator roles are notoriously difficult because of the nature of some content, which can include violence and child exploitation.

Sheryl Sandberg’s share shrinks

*Chief Product Officer Chris Cox wasn’t with the company at the start of 2020 and was labeled as an independent adviser in the data. Included here are executives who reported directly to Mark Zuckerberg that year: Fidji Simo (Vice President, Product Management); Stan Chudnovsky (Vice President of Messenger); Will Cathcart (Vice President of WhatsApp). From 2015 to 2018, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum reported directly to Zuckerberg. All these teams are included in Chris Cox’s grouping as he ran them in later years.
Note: Team counts are approximate and identified by the manager’s title. Data as Jan. 1 of each year. The CFO in 2014 was David Ebersmen and has been David Wehner from 2015-present.

Inside Javier Olivan’s teams

In addition to the growth teams, Mr. Olivan oversees many of the groups responsible for improving the quality and trustworthiness of content on Facebook, known as “integrity teams.” Among many other things, they monitor and measure objectionable content and develop tools to minimize or eliminate posts that users don’t want to see on the platform. Mr. Olivan’s teams often take on some of the most complex and critical initiatives for the company. He is one of the longest-serving executives at Facebook.

Olivan’s 2021 team makeup

= 1% of Facebook

Advertising and

business platform

Schroepfer

Design,

central products

Analytics and

marketing

Product management

Doesn’t report directly to Olivan

Central science,

strategy and research

Engineering and

executive assistants

Schroepfer

Olivan’s 2021 team makeup

= 1% of Facebook

Advertising and

business platform

Design,

central

products

Analytics

and

marketing

Product

management

Doesn’t

report directly

to Olivan

Central science,

strategy and research

Engineering

and executive

assistants

Schroepfer

Olivan’s 2021 team makeup

= 1% of Facebook

Advertising and

business platform

Design,

central

products

Analytics

and marketing

Product

manage-

ment

Doesn’t

report

directly

to Olivan

Central science,

strategy and

research

Engineering

and executive

assistants

Advertising as well as analytics and marketing make up the largest shares of staffers reporting to Mr. Olivan—41% and 21%, respectively. Integrity accounts for 9% of staffers reporting to him, although the company says most of the employees working on integrity issues are in other groups.

One team reporting to Ms. Sandberg that is growing quickly is the legal team under Chief Legal Officer Jennifer Newstead. The number of employees reporting to Ms. Newstead, including staffers and contractors, increased by 74% in the year through January, reflecting the growing array of regulatory, legislative and legal fights.

The Facebook Files

Write to Stephanie Stamm at Stephanie.Stamm@wsj.com, John West at john.west@wsj.com and Deepa Seetharaman at Deepa.Seetharaman@wsj.com

Copyright ©2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

scroll to top