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Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook is in the news again, this time facing allegations in a lawsuit that she knew the company was overestimating and misrepresenting its projected advertising numbers — and failed to disclose that fact to clients for years.
It’s amazing the downward trajectory Sandberg’s reputation has taken in just a few years. Here in Silicon Valley, she was initially seen as supremely competent, the real architect of Facebook’s explosive success, and — most of all — the lone adult at the company who kept Mark Zuckerberg in check. Then, in 2013, she published Lean In and became a national phenomenon, the heroine and role model to millions of young women struggling to make it in the business world. There seemed no limit to her career; there were even whispers of her becoming the first woman POTUS.
But then, especially after her Congressional testimony and some other comments that made her sound less like a paragon of character and more just a shill for her company, the attitude in tech was modified to: “Well, she’s just doing what she has to do in her job. But she’s still a person of character.” You know, kind of like a mob lawyer: defending bad behavior, but not participating in it.