Sheryl Sandberg: Facebook Inc (FB)’s Anti-Zuckerberg

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Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, the noted author of the white-hot book Lean In, is everywhere these days.

CBS’s 60 Minutes profiled her (quite flatteringly). She’s the talk of the book industry and the flashpoint of the feminism community everywhere.

Facebook Inc. (FB)Sandberg is also an icon among Facebook shareholders — or should be regarded as one, in case you haven’t thought about her in those exalted terms. Many Facebook holders are still smarting from their company’s woeful early performance as a newly publicly traded entity. Those wounds ran deep, as the much-hyped Facebook shares became the Titanic of the stock market.

Over the past year, you might say that Sandberg’s greatest corporate accomplishment has been to come across as what I like to call “The Anti-Zuck.” As a high-ranking Facebook executive, of course, Sandberg was deeply involved in all of Facebook’s decisions (and miscalculations), yet she seems to have escaped the goat’s horns, which have fit so snugly around Mark Zuckerberg’s neck — whether that was fair or not.

In public, anyway, as she talks about Lean In, Sandberg radiates a cheerful, likable, and empathetic disposition, descriptions that escaped Zuckerberg during the IPO bomb. As you remember way back to last spring and summer, during the buildup, execution, and aftershock of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s disastrous IPO on May 18, Zuckerberg seemed aloof to a point that his infamous hoodie could have posted this message: “I’m a billionaire — and you’re not.”

It should be noted that Zuckerberg, since then, has impressed Wall Street. He came out on top in a survey released recently by Glassdoor. “This guy is absolutely shocking me in how mature he is behaving,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said in the report.

These days, Sandberg wants (and needs) to be well liked because she’s trying to sell her book.

Take the subject of Lean In — namely, as Sandberg sees it, the failure of women to assert themselves in financial and other contractual negotiations. Sandberg laments that women can’t be more like men, in this instance, and stand up for themselves where it matters: in the wallet. She knows she’s setting herself up for criticism because very few women (or, for that matter, men) have had her advantages in life.

Clearly, Sandberg herself has never had a problem getting ahead. Her resume glitters like gold — a good thing for Facebook Nation, too.

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