What we know about the new Meta COO Javier Olivan

As Meta’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg was one of the company’s most prominent voices for more than a decade. Sandberg announced her departure from Meta (formerly Facebook) on Wednesday and longtime collaborator Javier Olivan will now take on the COO role. But don’t expect to see much of Olivan.

While Sandberg was in many ways partners with founder Mark Zuckerberg, the COO role is being reworked into a “more traditional COO role where [Olivan] will be internally and operationally focused,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post.

Olivan confirmed he would be less visible in a subsequent Facebook post of his own, writing: “With a few exceptions, I don’t expect my role to have the same public aspect as we have other leaders at Meta who are already responsible for that work.”

Despite these changes, the role of COO remains crucial. And to most, Olivan is a stranger; it’s time for Facebook viewers to get to know Javi, as he is affectionately known.

Accumulating Users and Power

Olivan joined Facebook in 2007, right after receiving his MBA from Stanford University. At the time, the company had only 40 million users, the majority of whom were in the US. He co-founded the company’s growth team to scale up Facebook’s membership base. He proved more than capable of the task at hand.

The growth team quickly became a powerful operation within the company, generally tapped when Zuckerberg saw a lot of potential in a position. That allowed Olivan to build power within the company.

That team was one of the first to adopt a data-driven growth approach. Today, the growth team, headed by Olivan, has a huge influence within Facebook. Even socially good projects now have benchmarks, instead of focusing solely on their ambitious qualities – a direct result of growth-oriented thinking.

The growth team was also responsible for steering Facebook toward its acquisition of Snaptu, an Israeli startup that created a stripped-down version of Facebook that could run on older phones and not require a high-speed network. That technology eventually became Facebook Lite, which was key to the company’s journey. As of 2017, Facebook had 200 million Lite users in countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh and Nigeria.

As of May 2018, Olivan’s title is Chief Growth Officer.

“I’ve been mostly behind the scenes, focused on working with our teams to build products that serve billions of people and millions of businesses around the world,” he wrote in Wednesday’s Facebook post. “As Meta continues to grow, one of my top priorities will be to ensure that our company’s business products and partnerships are in line. I think these organizations can continue to learn a lot from each other and will benefit from an even closer bond.”

Beyond Meta

Big jumps are not new to Olivan. As a child, he would paraglide in Spain in the Pyrenees, he told The Alumni Society, a network of Latino leaders. Before joining Facebook, he dreamed of becoming an engineer, an ambition that led him to a job at Siemens, where he developed an interest in mobile communications; and later to Nippon Telegraph and Telephone in Japan, where he focused on wireless video.

Like many, he was intrigued by the images of optimism and pragmatism that emerged from Silicon Valley in the early days. He enrolled at Stanford in 2005, during which time he became an early user of Facebook (when the site still needed a university email address to sign up). He was creating a Spanish version of the social network when Zuckerberg contacted him and asked him to lead international growth.

Like many longtime Facebook employees, he has also delved into angel investing and was recently involved in a Series A round for Yaba, a brand-enhancing startup. Other investments include launching the Reloadly payment API and GoPeer guidance tool.

And while he’s not paragliding much these days, if you looked inside Olivan’s office in Meta, chances are you’d see his surfboard leaning against the wall. However, with his new COO responsibilities, it could be a while before he can catch the next wave.

This post What we know about the new Meta COO Javier Olivan was original published at “https://www.fastcompany.com/90757352/what-we-know-about-javier-olivan-facebook-parent-metas-new-coo?partner=rss&utm_source=rss&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=rss+fastcompany&utm_content=rss”

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