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Shake Up in Silicon Valley: Leadership Changes in Big Tech This Year

The year 2022 has been the year of shake ups in Silicon Valley. Some unexpected moves happened in Big Tech with Elon Musk offering to buy Twitter for $44 billion and Sheryl Sandberg announcing her leave from Meta, which had been rebranded from Facebook only last year. Let’s explore in detail the motivations and implications of these moves.

Meta Transitions into Uncertainty

The New York Times reported that Mark Zuckerberg explained the motive to hire Sheryl Sandberg in 2008 with these words: “She has just about the most relevant industry experience for Facebook, especially since we need to scale our operations and scale them globally.” Sandberg did not disappoint some decade and a half later: Facebook is an indomitable tech giant. It appears that in Zuckerberg’s announcement to steer Facebook into the virtual metaverse, Sandberg’s role became less and less visible. Amidst the transition to Meta, the company’s President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg took over the role of spokesperson, a role Sandberg performed previously.

The successor to Sandberg’s role of Chief Operating Officer is a man who previously stayed hidden from the limelight: Javier “Javi” Oliván, who was instrumental in Facebook’s success from the start, helping expand the company into Russia, India, Japan, Indonesia, and Brazil, and spearheading the company’s move towards access in other languages. He had met Zuckerberg in Stanford, where Zuckerberg asked him to join Facebook at the same time Oliván was building a Facebook-like platform in Spanish. It remains to be seen if, once he steps up to the plate this fall, Oliván will be able to turn the declining stock value of the company around.

Musk’s Next Foray into Social Media

Elon Musk declared earlier in the year his intentions to start his own social media company. Since he is a big-time user of Twitter, which served crucial to Tesla’s and Musk’s own branding and self-promotion, he decided to buy Twitter instead. A result of the move is that Twitter’s CEO Parag Agrawal asked two top-level executives to leave the company: Kayvon Beykpour (General Manager of Consumer Product) and Bruce Falck (General Manager of Revenue). 

Agrawal’s own position as the CEO hangs in the balance, as Musk has declared he wishes to align the leadership team with his own vision of making Twitter centered on free speech — a stance Agrawal appears to be in direct contrast to. Once Musk takes over, it is expected that, as part of his thoughts on free speech, he will allow Donald Trump back on the platform, who had been blocked due to the January 6 riots at the Capitol. While both Beykpour and Falck have impressive resumes and Agrawal’s profile also deems him worthy of keeping his role, time will only tell who Musk will pick as members of his team.

Arslan Ahmed | Staff Writer

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