Javier Olivan, a 15-year veteran of Meta Platforms, will take over as the company’s chief operating officer after playing a critical but mostly 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 networking company to one dedicated to creating the metaverse, a collection of virtual worlds that may take a decade to develop.
Olivan, who grew up in northern Spain’s Pyrenees region, has degrees in electrical and industrial engineering from the University of Navarra as well as a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University.
Olivan, 44, worked at NTT and Siemens before joining Facebook in late 2007 as head of international growth.
When he started, Facebook had roughly 40 million members. It currently has about 3.6 billion users across Facebook and other services like Instagram.
According to an interview he provided to VentureBeat in 2010, Olivan pushed Facebook’s development into nations such as India, Japan, Russia, Indonesia, and Brazil while monitoring its worldwide moves.
According to critics, the firm pursued this expansion without providing adequate protection against the spread of misinformation, hate speech, or damaging content in emerging nations.
Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, and whistleblower disclosed internal documents last year that she claimed indicated Facebook prioritized profits over user safety and lacked basic controls to eliminate hazardous information in languages other than English.
Olivan was most recently the company’s chief growth officer, and he enjoys paragliding and surfing. He was in charge of Facebook and Instagram features and services, as well as WhatsApp and Messenger communications apps.
He will continue to drive infrastructure and business development in his new role. However, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated in a Facebook post on Wednesday that his portfolio will include advertising and business tools.
One thing is certain: Nothing will change. Olivan will remain out of the spotlight as he does his duties as COO. In contrast, Sandberg testified before Congress, wrote a best-selling book about women in the workplace, and frequently represented Facebook to external audiences.
“This will be a different job than Sheryl’s,” Zuckerberg says. “Javi will take on a more typical COO role, concentrating on internal and operational concerns and building on his exceptional track record of improving the efficiency and rigor of our execution.”
Olivan may have less autonomy now that Meta is a mature corporation with $118 billion in revenue than Sandberg did when she joined in the company’s early years, according to Brian Wieser, global head of business intelligence at ad agency GroupM.
Wieser believes a crucial concern is whether Olivan will be “more attentive” to data privacy issues as well as safeguard brands from having their advertising shown next to inappropriate content.