Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg may give Fred and Ginger a run for their money. Not in terms of dancing skills, but in terms of being great complements for eachother in how they do their jobs and working together to run one of the world’s most successful and important businesses ever. And they say the secret to their relationship is that Sheryl is okay with being the number two at the company. Though she is one of the most ambitious women of her generation she is satisfied with the fact that she will never hold the CEO post at Facebook.
The most recent issue of New York Magazine features an extensive profile on Zuckerberg as the Facebook IPO is expected for May 18. One Facebook executive even called their partnership “a blessing from the gods.” The Zuckerberg-Sandberg duo has been so successful that annual revenues have increased from $150 million to nearly $4 billion since she joined, according to the article. Henry Blodgett wrote that their relationship “has now become a new model for tech company-building. Instead of replacing the quirky founder with a professional CEO, companies now try to “go get a Sheryl.”” Keep the creative weirdo and bring in the smart lady who appeals to the crowd!
Mark found a person who didn’t want to run the company which is what he saw when he tried many other candidates. Though Mark doesn’t have to worry about her trying to steal the company from him, he has found a remarkably powerful COO. Business Insider’s Nicolas Carlson wrote a few months ago:
“Sandberg is much more than your typical COO. She runs the ad business. She’s the “adult supervision,” and she’s one of the company’s more public faces. It’s also likely that Facebook had to pay up to get Sandberg when it got her. At the time, Facebook was only a couple years old and its young founder had already blown through two other top lieutenants; Sean Parker and Owen Van Natta. And it’s not like Sandberg didn’t already have a good job: she was running Google’s self-service ad sales organization. She’s also told interviewers that she was being recruited to be CEO at other companies.”
Plus, the Facebook IPO will make Sheryl the richest self-made woman ever. When Sandberg joined Facebook in early 2008, employees joining at the “director” level were granted .1% of the company. Employees at the VP level got around five times that, or ~.5%. Business Insider estimates that Sandberg probably got about 1.25% when she joined which means with the IPO she will be worth $1.25 billion. That is a lot of pantsuits. This means she beats out other self-made billionaires like Oprah and JK Rowling.
So how did the rather odd and anti-social Mark Zuckerberg land such a talented lady as Sheryl? Well, it was pretty weird. Last fall New Yorker writer Ken Auletta wrote that after meeting at a Christmas party in 2007 Mark courted Sheryl for the job in a weird way. They met for dinner twice a week for six weeks which Sandberg’s husband said “was like dating.” But it all worked out as their relationship has improved Facebook and helped it grow tremendously since its launch. And now every startup hopes for a Zuck/Sandberg relationship.