For Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook is more than just a place to stay connected.
The company’s now-24-year-old founder, Mark Zuckerberg, tapped Sandberg as his new No. 2 in March, making her Facebook’s chief operating officer — and first major female hire.
The post puts Sandberg in charge of the social-networking behemoth’s sales, human resources, marketing and business development as the 550-person company overhauled its site with a new look this month and expands overseas, where more than half of its users are based.
She’s also tasked with turning Facebook’s 80 million users into an attractive target for advertisers. The company may be valued at $15 billion and is the world’s fourth most popular website, but it’s just now starting to figure out how to make money.
“We’re focused on growth,” she says. “We want to make Facebook more integrated in your life. We’re scaling the company to achieve those goals and scaling the monetization to fund that growth.”
Sandberg, 38, has experience building another dot-com into a major player: She most recently helped turn Google into an advertising powerhouse as the company’s VP of global online sales and operations, building the division into one that generates a majority of the company’s revenue.
“It’s really fun,” says Sandberg, who is married to former Yahoo music chief-turned-venture capitalist David Goldberg. “I liked the building process at Google, and Facebook is now at a much earlier stage than Google was. It has huge opportunities in front of it.”
Already, 60 of the top 100 advertisers are spending their ad dollars on Facebook. Paramount used it to promote the latest “Indiana Jones” adventure. Hundreds of thousands of users gifted each other with a digital fedora upon its release.
“This was users advertising the movie to other users,” Sandberg says.
“The information Web is evolving into the social Web,” Sandberg says. “When the Internet launched, it was a very anonymous space. What people do online now is social, and that’s where it’s all going.”
It’s certainly making Sandberg more friends — especially on Facebook.
“I have more than 1,200 friends now,” she laughs.
Three things in life I can’t do without: “My family, my running shoes and a sense of humor.”
What I’m reading now: “Unaccustomed Earth,” by Jhumpa Lahiri.
Fave leisure activity: “Yoga, while kids are asleep.”
Career mantra: “Have a long-run dream and an 18-month plan.”