Facebook’s “Grown Up” Makes It Rain

BusinessWeek is crediting Facebook Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, for figuring out the company’s revenue model.

In the three years since Sandberg, 41, defected from Google and joined Facebook as its COO, she has helped to steer the company to previously unimaginable heights, devising an advertising platform that’s attracted the world’s largest brands and forging a remarkably trusting partnership with Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg looked down on the ignoble business of selling ads, according to the article. “I think early on we had almost this phobia that we shouldn’t focus too much on [ads], because that meant we were not putting our best foot forward on user products,” he says.

Sandberg helped clarify the situation for Zuckerberg and the Facebook executive team. Facebook could either charge members or charge advertisers. Everyone agreed that charging advertisers was the better option.

It appears that Sandberg and crew made the right decision. Facebook pulled in an estimated $2 billion in ad sales in 2010, and is on track to do twice that in 2011. Additionally, the social network now serves up nearly one-third of the display advertising that Internet users see in the U.S., and delivers twice as many ad impressions as its closest rival, Yahoo!.

To get a better sense of Sandberg’s intelligence and her point of view, take a look at this TED talk from last December:

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. After working for seven agencies in five states and freelancing for several more, I ventured out on my own in 2009. Today, as head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon, I'm focused on providing effective integrated marketing solutions to mid-market clients.


  1. Wonder what Sandberg, formerly of Google, has to say about Facebook hiring Burson-Marstellar to essentially trash Facebook in the sleaziest, most unethical manner imaginable.

  2. Is it just me, or was the decision to charge users or charge advertisers not a terribly tough one?