Facebook taps COO Sandberg to be first woman on board
By Gerry Shih
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc named Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg a director on Monday, adding the first woman to a board that includes seven men.
For years one of the most vocal critics of the gender imbalance in Silicon Valley's executive ranks, Sandberg, 42, joined Facebook in 2008 and played a central role in guiding the social networking company to its $16 billion IPO in May.
Her promotion comes as Facebook seeks to cultivate a more mature image, as opposed to the college dorm-room startup reputation that has lingered conspicuously since Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg founded the company in 2004 after building a prototype website that judged the relative attractiveness of his female classmates.
"Sheryl has been my partner in running Facebook and has been central to our growth and success over the years," Zuckerberg, 28, said in a statement. "Her understanding of our mission and long-term opportunity, and her experience both at Facebook and on public company boards makes her a natural fit for our board."
Prior to joining Facebook to helm its business operations, Sandberg worked at Google, where she was credited for building the search advertising division into a massively lucrative cornerstone of the web giant's business.
She has been tasked with stoking similar growth at Facebook, which claimed $3.7 billion in revenue last year but is under pressure to justify its $70 billion valuation in the public markets.
At the same time, Facebook hopes the promotion of one of corporate America's most high-profile women will go some way to soothe concerns over its own gender issues, especially given Sandberg's advocacy on the subject.
Before Facebook went public, the California State Teachers' Retirement System, the second-largest largest pension fund in the United States, openly urged the company in February to diversify its board to include women while calling the makeup of the all-male panel "disappointing." Continued...