Javier Olivan—The new COO of Meta

Javier Olivan, a 15-year employee of Meta Platforms (FB.O), will take over as the company’s chief operational officer after playing a critical but mainly behind-the-scenes role in the social media company’s meteoric expansion.

Sheryl Sandberg, who announced her departure from Meta on Wednesday, will be replaced by the Spaniard.

Meta is making the move as it grapples with declining growth and increased costs. It’s transitioning from a social network firm to one dedicated to creating the metaverse, a collection of virtual worlds that may take a decade to develop.

Olivan, who grew up in the Pyrenees area of northern Spain, graduated from the University of Navarra with degrees in electrical and industrial engineering and a master’s in business administration from Stanford University.

Olivan, 44, worked at NTT and Siemens in Japan before joining Facebook in late 2007 as head of international expansion.

Facebook was a small firm with roughly 40 million users when he arrived, but it today has about 3.6 billion users across Facebook and other applications like Instagram.

According to a 2010 interview with VentureBeat, Olivan pushed Facebook’s development into nations including India, Japan, Russia, Indonesia, and Brazil while monitoring its worldwide movements.

Critics claim that the business pushed this expansion without putting in place enough protections against the spread of disinformation, hate speech, and harmful content in new areas.

Last year, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager and whistleblower, revealed internal papers alleging that Facebook prioritized profitability over user safety and lacked effective controls to eliminate hazardous information in languages other than English.

Olivan, who likes paragliding and surfing, was most recently the chief growth officer, according to media sources. He oversaw features and services on Facebook, Instagram, and the messaging applications WhatsApp and Messenger while in that capacity.

He will continue to drive infrastructure and business growth in his new position. But, as Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated in a Facebook post on Wednesday, his portfolio will include include advertising and commercial goods.

One thing is certain: nothing will change. While doing his duties as COO, Olivan will remain out of the spotlight. Sandberg, on the other hand, has testified before Congress, written a best-selling book about women in the workplace, and frequently represents Facebook to external audiences.

“This will be a different kind of job than Sheryl’s. Javi will take on a more traditional COO position, focusing on internal and operational issues, building on his great track record of improving our execution efficiency and rigor “According to Zuckerberg.

Olivan may have less autonomy now that Meta is a mature firm with $118 billion in sales than Sandberg did when she arrived in the company’s early years, according to Brian Wieser, global head of business intelligence at ad agency GroupM.

According to Wieser, a crucial concern is whether Olivan would be “more sensitive” to problems such as data protection and safeguarding companies from having their advertising display next to inappropriate content.

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