Javier Olivan, who replaces Sheryl Sandberg at Meta, has built his career on international expansion

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook Inc., right, pauses while speaking as Javier Olivan, Vice President of Growth and Analytics at Facebook Inc., watches the annual Telmex Billionaire Foundation event Carlos Slim for scholarship students in Mexico City, Mexico, Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Zuckerberg said he was willing to spend whatever it takes to expand internet access worldwide.

Susana Gonzalez | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Sheryl Sandberg is one of the most visible figures in Silicon Valley. Javier “Javi” Olivan, who succeeds Sandberg as chief operating officer at Facebook owner Meta, is an off-campus virtual unknown.

Sandberg, the author of the 2013 bestseller “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” has more than 900,000 followers on Instagram. Olivan’s Instagram, with 17 followers, is private. Until Wednesday, Olivan had not made a public post on his Facebook profile since 2018.

“I want to thank Sheryl for all she has done for Meta and for the billions of people around the world who use our products,” Olivan wrote on Facebook after the announcement, coinciding with posts by Sandberg and the CEO of Meta Mark Zuckerberg.

On Wednesday, Sandberg said she was ending her 14-year career with the company so she could focus on philanthropy. Zuckerberg said that while Olivan will assume the COO title, he will not replace Sandberg in the organizational structure “because he is a superstar who has defined the role of COO in his own way.”

Olivan’s low-key public persona does not reflect his influence within the company. He is one of a handful of executives reporting to Zuckerberg, climbing near the top of the latter during his nearly 15-year tenure at the social media company. He joined the C-suite five months ago, assuming the title of chief growth officer, and is also vice president of cross-meta product and infrastructure.

If Sandberg led the charge in building Facebook’s advertising business, which still accounts for 97% of Meta’s total revenue, Olivan deserves credit for his global expansion. His first job with the company, from 2007 to 2011, was responsible for international growth.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook Inc.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

More than 91% of monthly users now come from outside the US and Canada, according to Meta first quarter results.

Born in the small Spanish town of Sabiñánigo in 1977, Olivan worked in Europe and Asia before heading to Silicon Valley. After obtaining a master’s degree in electrical and industrial engineering from the Spanish University of Navarre, he worked as a research and development engineer at Siemens in Munich and then at NTT Data in Tokyo. In 2007, he graduated from Stanford University’s business school and joined Facebook.

When it first came to Facebook in 2007, fewer than 50 million people were using the app, with “a very small portion coming from users outside the United States”. prospectus for Vy Global Growth, a black check company that counts Olivan as a board member.

In addition to Vy Global, Olivan has spent six years on the board of a Latin American e-commerce company MercadoLibreand he invested in a geospatial imaging company Satellogic before the SPAC agreement reached in January.

But his career has centered on Facebook. In 2008, Olivan accompanied by Zuckerberg for an appearance at the University of Navarre. He later worked on Internet.org, a Facebook effort, and other ventures spear in 2013 to connect people to Internet services in less developed countries.

“Extroverted and social”

By 2015, the Internet.org effort had brought free internet services to more than 500 million people and connected 7 million people who were not online before. In an email interview with Quarterly AmericasOlivan, then vice president of growth at Facebook, said that while the company had already become a fixture in Latin America, it still had plenty of room to grow in the region.

“Extroverted and social by nature, Latin Americans have embraced our site to the point that in many places Facebook is synonymous with the internet,” Olivan wrote.

Spanish was Facebook’s first non-English language, and it was the first project Olivan worked on, he said in a interview earlier this year.

Olivan continued to serve the company overseas. As recently as March, he represented Meta on a state visit with Pedro Sánchez, the Spanish prime minister.

Olivan also pushed Facebook to buy mobile messaging app WhatsApp. Before the Acquisition of $19 billion in 2014, Olivan told Facebook executives that WhatsApp was used more actively than Facebook, noting that “literally everyone” in Spain uses it, according to a 2020 report from the Democratic staff of a House antitrust subcommittee. the United States. Zuckerberg said he agreed with Olivan’s analysis that WhatsApp could expose new users to Facebook.

Even with the promotion, Olivan can remain relatively under the radar. Sandberg, in his role as No. 2, regularly updated investors on quarterly earnings calls. A spokesperson for Meta declined to say whether Olivan would follow suit.

Zuckerberg wrote in his Facebook post that Olivan supports in-app ads and commerce products while continuing to manage the company’s infrastructure, integrity, analytics, marketing, development and growth. .

“With few exceptions, I don’t anticipate my role having the same public aspect, given that we have other leaders at Meta who are already responsible for this work,” Olivan wrote in his Facebook post.

LOOK: Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg is leaving the company in the fall

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