Javier Olivan, a 15-year veteran of Meta Platforms, will take over as the company’s outgoing chief operational 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 network 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 the Pyrenees region 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 apps like Instagram.
According to a 2010 interview with VentureBeat, Olivan pushed Facebook’s development into nations like India, Japan, Russia, Indonesia, and Brazil while monitoring its worldwide moves.
Critics claim that the business pushed this expansion without putting in place enough protections against the spread of misinformation, hate speech, and harmful content in emerging markets.
Last year, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager and whistleblower, leaked internal documents alleging that Facebook prioritised profitability over user safety and lacked effective controls to eliminate hazardous information in languages other than English.
Olivan, who enjoys 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 apps 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 business products.
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 role, focusing on internal and operational issues, building on his great track record of improving our execution efficiency and rigour “According to Zuckerberg.
Because Meta is a mature firm with $118 billion in revenue, Olivan may have less autonomy than Sandberg did when she first joined, according to Brian Wieser, global president of business intelligence at ad agency GroupM.
According to Wieser, a crucial concern is whether Olivan would be “more attentive” to issues such as data protection and protecting companies from having their advertising display next to inappropriate content.
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