Sheryl Sandberg recently announced that she would be stepping down as the COO or chief operating officer of Meta (formerly Facebook). Mark Zuckerberg, the social media giant’s CEO, announced that Javier Olivan would be stepping up and taking Sandberg’s position once she transitions out of her role.
Compared to Sandberg, Olivan had kept a relatively low profile, especially when dealing with the public and the media, and plans on continuing to do so. Javier Olivan is a veteran at Meta and was responsible for the platform’s global expansion. The Spanish native oversaw the social media platform’s growth into Latin America and parts of Asia for over 15 years.
Sandberg, who was with Facebook for just over 14 years, had to face a lot of heat not just from American authorities and the public over Facebook’s conduct over hate speech and misinformation and how they used user data to manipulate large sections of the society, but also investors and stakeholders for the slowdown in Meta’s growth. Unfortunately for her, the last couple of years has proven to be some of the most tumultuous times for Meta.
Olivan will be responsible for playing a crucial part in the company’s recovery, which comes at a time when it is struggling with slowing growth, increased costs, and public distrust.
Hailing from the Pyrenees region of northern Spain, Olivan graduated from the University of Navarra with a degree in electrical and industrial engineering. He did his master’s in business administration from Stanford University. Before joining Facebook in 2007, Olivan worked for Japan’s NTT Data and Siemens.
When he joined Facebook in 2007 as the platform’s Head of International Growth, the venue had just over 40 million active users. Over the next decade, he ensured that the platform expanded to have over 3.6 billion active users.
He later worked on Internet.org, an Facebook and other companies launched in 2013 to connect people to internet services in underdeveloped and developing countries.
Olivan also pushed for Facebook to buy the mobile messaging app WhatsApp. Before the $19 billion acquisition in 2014, Olivan told Facebook management that WhatsApp was more actively used than Facebook, noting that “literally everyone” in Spain used it.
Apart from Facebook the platform, Olivan is also supervising products and services across WhatsApp and Instagram as the Chief Growth Officer at Meta, a position that he took up in January earlier this year. Before that, he was the Vice President for Central and Cross-Meta Products and Infrastructure and oversaw product and feature development for WhatsApp and Instagram.
During the early 2010s, Olivan was instrumental in pushing Facebook’s development into nations outside Europe and North America. He proved vital for the platform to foray into markets and countries like India, Japan, Russia, Brazil, and Indonesia.
“This role will be different from what Sheryl has done. It will be a more traditional COO role where Javi (Javier Olan) will be focused internally and operationally, building on his strong track record of making our execution more efficient and rigorous,” said Zuckerberg.