Who is the new Meta COO Javier Olivan?

Mark Zuckerberg once called Meta’s new COO Javier Olivan “one of the most influential people in Facebook history.”

But unlike her predecessor Sheryl Sandberg, Olivan has intentionally kept a low profile during her more than 14 years as Facebook’s growth czar. Initially tasked with growing Facebook’s user base outside the United States when it had just 40 million users, its mandate has expanded over the years to include Meta’s advertising products, the core infrastructure, marketing, analytics, business development, and trust and security efforts. When he officially takes over as COO later this year, he will also inherit Sandberg’s thousands of salespeople and a secret crisis management team called Strategic Response.

Despite all that influence, Olivan (or “Javi” as the employees call him) has no intention of following in Sandberg’s footsteps. He will have a “more traditional COO role” which is “internally and operationally focused”. according to Zuckerberg. Sandberg made the role of COO much more than just operations, essentially becoming the public voice of Facebook during key periods in its history. Olivan, on the other hand, plans to stay in the background.

“Sheryl has been an outstanding advocate for Meta and has worked with partners and helped tell our story to external audiences for years,” Olivan wrote in own post on Facebook announces the change of COO. “With few exceptions, I don’t anticipate my role will have the same public aspect, given that we have other leaders at Meta who are already responsible for this work.”

People who have worked with Olivan describe him as a respected, low-ego, detail-oriented execution machine. They also praise his ability to see around corners when anticipating competition. He avoids the press, having given only a small handful of interviews during his career.

Originally from a small mountainside town in Spain, Olivan studied electrical and industrial engineering at the University of Navarre before moving to the United States to earn his MBA at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Stanford. He was a product manager at Siemens before joining Facebook in the early 2000s.

Once at Facebook, Olivan became the architect of one of the most successful growth strategies in company history, with over 3 billion users now across Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Early on, he led Facebook’s translation into languages ​​other than English and early on focused on international growth. That meant remaking Facebook for markets with more basic smartphones and slower, more sporadic internet access – a playbook that has since been replicated by Google, Snap and others.

“I force a lot of guys to use low-end phones now,” Olivan Told Time magazine in 2014. “You have to feel the pain.”

He’s also played a key role in Facebook’s marquee acquisitions over the years. Before Facebook bought WhatsApp, it written internally that a popular messaging app becoming a full-fledged social network was “the biggest competitive threat we face as a business”. He also defended the 2013 purchase of VPN app Onavo, which the company later shut down after secretly using it to collect usage data on competitors. In 2018, he took over the “Integrity” trust and safety team responsible for keeping misinformation and other malicious content at bay.

In a 2017 post celebrating his tenth anniversary working with the company, Zuckerberg said Olivan is “one of the people who can reliably solve all the great challenges we face.” In the short term, one of those challenges will be allaying concerns over the departure of his larger-than-life predecessor, even though sources say Sandberg’s influence internally has waned significantly in recent years.

In an internal FAQ article this week shared with Meta employees and seen by The edge, management told them how to answer questions about Sandberg’s departure, including whether she was leaving because of “the poorly performing business” or because there was “less commitment to the advertising industry.” . In one-on-one verbal interviews, employees were asked to say that Sandberg and Zuckerberg have “the greatest confidence in the leadership team they have assembled” and that the company is “confident that our apps will continue to be the best place for advertisers.” to reach people and achieve measurable long-term results.

Olivan takes the reins of Sandberg at a difficult time for Meta’s business. With the company’s share price down more than 40% this year and revenue growth slowing significantly, investors will be watching to see if its advertising team can successfully deliver results in a world with less user data. . Its growth team has the difficult task of reversing the growth of the Facebook app blocking while TikTok continues to attract young people. Meanwhile, former employees like Frances Haugen are increasingly raising the alarm over the misdeeds of social media, putting pressure on her Integrity team.

He may not have Sandberg’s profile, but Olivan will have a lot of responsibility that comes with being Meta’s top executive.