Sheryl Sandberg's surprising announcement that she will depart Meta Platforms came amid an internal review of the chief operating officer's behavior, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday night.
Sandberg on Wednesday announced that she will leave after a 14-year tenure that included helping steer scandal-prone Facebook to advertising dominance.
The Journal said it had contacted Meta earlier this year about two incidents from several years ago in which Sandberg pressed the Daily Mail to jettison an article about her former boyfriend, Activision Blizzard Inc. Chief Executive Bobby Kotick, and a 2014 temporary restraining order against him.
That led to a company probe into Sandberg's activities, which included a review of her use of corporate resources to help plan her coming wedding to Tom Bernthal, the Journal reported.
Sources told the Journal that, as of May, the review was ongoing.
"None of this has anything to do with her personal decision to leave," Meta spokeswoman Caroline Nolan told the Journal.
The outlet said it previously had been told that, regarding the Activision/Kotick issue, Sandberg never made a threat in her communications with the Daily Mail.
Kotick said it was his understanding that the Daily Mail story didn't run because it was untrue, the Journal reported.
Sandberg, who will remain on Meta's board, informed CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Saturday of her intention to resign. Sources told the Journal that although the executive's relationship with some board members, including Zuckerberg, had been strained at times, the decision to step down was voluntary.
People close to Sandberg, 52, told the Journal that the executive had been dealing with personal challenges involving her coming marriage, and multiple family members suffering from COVID-19.
Sandberg told people that she felt burned out and that she had become a punching bag for the company's problems, sources told the Journal.
"She sees herself as someone who has been targeted, been tarred as a woman executive in a way that would not happen to a man. Gendered or not, she's sick of it," one person told the Journal.
Also, the outlet reported that Sandberg hadn't been involved closely with the company's plan to pivot to the development of virtual worlds in the so-called Metaverse. That very expensive vision is less dependent on advertising, Sandberg's expertise.
In 2016, there had been rumors that Sandberg could leave Facebook for a Cabinet role for Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
"I really am staying at Facebook. I'm very happy," Sandberg said in October 2016 at a conference.
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