Posts Tagged ‘Sheryl Sandberg’

Sheryl Sandberg on Facebook’s Future

April 9, 2009

On Tuesday night, BusinessWeek editor in chief Stephen J. Adler sat down with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg for an exclusive interview. Adler talked with Sandberg about the company’s financial prospects, recent controversies over its redesign and terms-of-service changes, Sandberg’s high school years, and other issues. Edited excerpts follow:

On the questions about Facebook’s business strategy:

It’s a really simple answer, which is that our business is advertising. We’re not waiting to find our business. We found it, and it’s actually working very well. Marketers all over the world have to sell products and services, and they have to generate demand for those services. They do that typically where people are spending their time. But there is a real imbalance right now: Between something like 28% to 29% of people’s time is spent online, but only 8% to 10% of the dollars are spent online. So there is this migration of ad dollars from other places going online.

Then the question is how do advertisers make that useful? What we do is we enable connections. We enable people to connect with users and provide advertising in such a way that it’s not obtrusive at all, but it’s part of the advertising experience and part of the user experience. And so we’re doing really well financially.

We’ve actually just confirmed that we expect to grow revenue 70% year-over-year in this year, obviously a very tough economic environment. We’ve been profitable on an [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization] basis for five consecutive quarters, and that’s ongoing. We’re on a very clear path to cash-flow profitability. So we have a business model, and our ad business is working, and working quite well.

Check out the rest of the interview here, along with some video snippets.

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What in the World is Going On with Facebook?

November 21, 2008

Check out my story on Facebook, called “Facebook’s Land Grab in the Face of a Downturn.” It’s about the startup’s audacious gamble to chase user growth in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

In the story, I report several scoops:
– To grow its user base, the company has lowered its revenue goals. In January, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook was shooting for revenues of $300 million to $350 million this year. But this spring, Zuckerberg and his board lowered the revenue target to $250 million to $300 million, say sources familiar with company finances.
– Despite intense speculation, the company is not running out of money. It has raised about $500 million and is “slightly cash-flow negative,” says Facebook director and investor Peter Thiel. At its current burn rate, he says, the company has enough cash for three or four years.
– The company is gearing up to do acquisitions, particularly of overseas foreign networks.
– The company is seriously considering a plan to take a cut of money from the software developers who create applications for the site. Vice-President Chamath Palihapitiya, disclosing the initiative for the first time, says the company may be able to help these startups generate more cash from advertising or e-commerce and then take a slice of that revenue.

Zuckerberg: Being a CEO is “Hard”–enter Google’s Sheryl Sandberg

March 5, 2008

Yesterday, Facebook announced the hire of a new chief operating officer, Google vp Sheryl Sandberg. The New York Times, which buried the story on p. 6 of the Business Section, argued that Facebook’s 23-year-old CEO Mark Zuckerberg was “following the Bill Gates model and holding the top post.”

But you have to wonder how long Zuckerberg will follow the Gates model. He clearly wants to hold on to the reins and he may grow into the role of being a true CEO. But my gut tells me that the company and its investors will bring in a more seasoned exec to take the company public, if and when it goes public. Sandberg, while highly respected and successful, has never been a CEO before and has never taken a company public. And with so much at stake, you’d think the company would want to have someone in the role who’s done it before.

The Wall Street Journal, which gave the story huge play on p. 1, got Zuckerberg to admit that the CEO job “is hard.” Last December, the Journal’s Vauhini Vara reported that Zuckerberg held a meeting with Roger McNamee, a powerful Silicon Valley investor who Zuckerberg considers to be a mentor. During the meeting, Zuckerberg complained about the pressures he felt as a CEO, asking McNamee: “Is being a CEO always this hard.”

That one admission is another sign that Zuckerberg, however brilliant he is as a technologist and visionary, is probably not up to the task of running a multi-billion company with thousands of employees. What did he expect? That management would be any easier than slinging code? The comment just sounds naive.

I see Sandberg’s hire as more of a replacement upgrade for Facebook’s previous COO, Owen Van Natta, who recently left the company to pursue opportunities as a chief executive somewhere else. Van Natta was a former Amazon exec, and he did a fine job helping to grow the company and build a great brand. But Sandberg, the vp for Google’s global online sales and operations, is the perfect person to take the company to where it needs to go next–to create a advertising and marketing model that scales into the billions of dollars.

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