Sheryl Sandberg leaves Meta as one of the most prominent and successful women in tech — and after more than $1.7 billion in stock sales.
Sandberg announced Wednesday that she is stepping down as chief operating officer after 14 years at Meta, formerly known as Facebook. Sandberg will remain on the social media company’s board.
Sandberg’s wealth is around $1.6 billion, according to Forbes, making her the second richest woman in technology after Meg Whitman. Whitman previously held the top job at Hewlett Packard Enterprise and is worth an estimated $3.2 billion, according to Forbes.
Sandberg is also one of the few non-CEOs and non-founders to become a billionaire.
While many corporate executives tend to hold onto the bulk of their stock as a sign of confidence in their companies, Sandberg has been an aggressive and consistent seller of Facebook (now Meta) stock.
Over the past decade, Sandberg has sold more than 75% of its after-tax shares through regular stock sale programs, according to research firms that track the sales. In total, she sold more than 22 million shares for more than $1.7 billion, according to analytics firm VerityData. Depending on the treatment of options and restricted stock sales, the total could actually be higher, according to another analyst firm, Smart Insider, which calculates its stock sales at more than $1.9 billion.
“Its sales over the past decade make it one of the biggest insider sellers of any company in the United States,” said Ben Silverman, director of research at VerityData.
A Sandberg spokeswoman said she acquired 48 million units of restricted stock, options and stock during her time with the company. About 20 million was sold for taxes, and she sold 22 million of the remaining 28 million through a pre-programmed 10b5-1 sales program.
Sandberg cashed in shares at a wide price range as Facebook shares soared. The stock was priced at $38 per share when the company went public in 2012 and peaked at over $382 per share in September.
The average sale price for Sandberg shares over the past decade was $79.10 per share, according to VerityData, with its last sale in October 2019.
Despite his billionaire status, Sandberg hasn’t shown the penchant for yachts, private jets and beach houses shown by other tech moguls. According to media reports, in 2013 she moved into a newly built 9,200 square foot home in Menlo Park, Calif., near Facebook’s headquarters, which includes a wine cellar, gym, waterfall, and solar panels on the roof.
Sandberg has also donated some of the proceeds from his sales to charity. In 2016, she gave $107.2 million to her donor-advised fund at Fidelity Charitable. At the time, she did not specify which charities she would fund, but said she planned to support programs that increase opportunities for women and girls.
Sandberg’s spokeswoman said she made reportable donations totaling 4.9 million shares, including 2.8 million shares to her donor-advised fund and 2.1 million irrevocable transfers to trusts for beneficiaries. Smart Insider estimates that Sandberg distributed $484 million in stock.
Announcing his departure on Wednesday, Sandberg said the decision to leave Meta would allow him to focus more on his philanthropic work.
Sandberg has also been an active political donor, contributing to Democratic candidates and frequently hosting Democratic fundraisers.
She still owns nearly 1.5 million shares, with a current market value of about $290 million, in a revocable trust. She also owns 333,642 unvested restricted shares, some of which can be acquired before her departure.
Meta shares closed Wednesday at $188.64.