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Meet Javier Olivan, Sheryl Sandberg’s replacement and Meta’s new COO

The man stepping into the oversized shoes Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg will leave behind has kept a low profile during his nearly 15 years at the company and has barely any social media presence. Javier Olivan, a 44-year-old native of Spain who helped spread Facebook’s footprint overseas, was thrust into the spotlight after Sandberg shocked the tech world Wednesday by abruptly announcing her resignation following a 14-year run at Meta. Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg named Olivan, the company’s Chief Growth Officer, to the prominent new role but acknowledged it will “be different from what Sheryl has done” in recent years, in a post addressing the leadership shakeup. “It will be a more traditional COO role where Javi will be focused internally and operationally, building on his strong track record of making our execution more efficient and rigorous,” Zuckerberg said. Olivan is not used to being thrust into the spotlight. Whereas Sandberg has built a massive following on social media, written a book and made regular television appearances in recent years, he has remained largely behind the scenes. For example, his Instagram account is private and has just 17 followers, according to CNBC. Olivan indicated that he would likely be less publicly visible than Sandberg while serving as COO. “With some exceptions, I don’t anticipate my role will have the same public-facing aspect, given that we have other leaders at Meta who are already responsible for that work,” he wrote in a post on the change. Olivan will inherit the difficult task of helping Meta reinvent itself as a company focused on the “metaverse” – following a series of scandals that sapped public confidence in its core platform and weighed on its stock price. The company also recently enacted a hiring freeze as it contends with slowing revenue growth. Despite the headwinds, Olivan has had a meteoric rise from his humble beginnings in the tiny town of Sabananigo, tucked in the Pyrenees Mountains in the northeast corner of Spain. He left the mountain village and went on to receive a degree in electrical and industrial engineering from the University of Navarra in 2000, before moving overseas to get his MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. Olivan joined Facebook in 2007 – when the social media upstart had just 40 million users – as head of international growth after stints with Siemens and Japan’s NTT Data. As the company boomed, Olivan was promoted to vice president of growth and helped lead Facebook’s expansion into other countries, including Russia and India, according to Reuters. It now has nearly 3 billion users worldwide. He has been Chief Growth Officer and vice president of cross-Meta products and infrastructure since 2018, managing “products and functions that span the four large Meta applications: Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and Messenger,” according to his LinkedIn page. “I’ve primarily been behind-the-scenes, focused on working with our teams to build products that serve billions of people and millions of businesses around the world,” Oliver wrote in Wednesday’s Facebook post. “As Meta continues to grow, one of my biggest priorities will be to ensure that the business products and partnerships sides of our company are in lockstep. I think these orgs can continue learning a lot from each other and will benefit from being even more tightly linked.”

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