Sheryl Sandberg was brought in to Facebook as COO to help stabilize the ship. Facebook is cruising along nicely, don’t get me wrong, but the ship is bobbing and weaving. By bringing mainstream business acumen to Facebook, Ms. Sandberg has in a matter of months created new procedures and business practices to make Facebook less of a college dorm company and more a grownup company.
Her other functions are to help Facebook make more money than it spends, and fix the advertising model. But as the “suits” infiltrate Facebook (remember the Beacon program) Facebook will lose more and more of its identity. What made Facebook so unique was that it was run by millennials for millennials. I don’t begin to know Mark Zuckerberg’s personally but I’m guessing he was pretty democratic in his approach to building Facebook. (The idea to open up the API to developers, being one example.)
Facebook is what it is today because it was not a product built by a few business people with a business vision. It is a platform built and evolved by many for many. Facebook is successful because the “people” are running the show, not the suits. IBM and AT&T could never have followed this model, Facebook must. I wish Ms. Sandberg luck in her endeavor but suspect she will have a torturous couple of years before her.