- Sheryl Sandberg may have a future in politics after leaving Facebook.
- Sandberg was discussed as a running mate for Michael Bloomberg and touted as a Treasury Secretary for Hillary Clinton.
- One person suggested Sandberg is eyeing Dianne Feinstein's Senate seat.
Sheryl Sandberg may pursue a career in politics after she leaves Facebook, with some beltway observers highlighting her high profile, a history of business success, a popular book, and a compelling personal story.
The veteran Facebook executive said on Wednesday she is stepping down. "I'm not entirely sure what the future will bring – I have learned no-one ever is," she wrote. "But I know it will include focusing more on my foundation and philanthropic work, which is more important to me than ever given how critical this moment is for women."
That may be a reference to the Supreme Court's imminent decision to end women's abortion rights, the hottest political issue of the moment.
Sandberg published the book "Lean In" in 2013, suggesting women should push for more power. It was a sensation at the time, with more than 4 million copies sold in 5 years, according to the New York Times. About 2 years after the book came out, Sandberg's husband Dave Goldberg died, pitching her into a period of wrenching grief.
Then came a series of Facebook scandals and congressional hearings that Sandberg had to tackle with CEO Mark Zuckerberg. In 2019, she published a second book "Option B" with author Adam Grant about dealing with adversity.
"There has been a huge interest in business leaders and she definitely has a story to tell," said Tammy Haddad, a Washington-based consultant and former political director of MSNBC. "She probably has some things voters would want her to explain but there's a long history of success and innovation at Facebook in her career." Sandberg didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
As an early employee at Google and Facebook Sandberg has amassed a huge personal fortune, estimated at $1.6 billion by Forbes.
Haddad noted that there are no perfect political candidates any more, pointing to Mehmet Oz, a former TV personality who is running in a Senate primary in Pennsylvania. "The American people like a story of down and out and recovery and she's extremely well known," she added.
Sandberg has worked in politics before, and she's been touted as a potential running mate for some candidates. She was chief of staff to Clinton Administration Treasury Secretary Larry Summers from 1999 to 2001.
Sandberg was considered a candidate for Treasury Secretary had Hillary Clinton's bid for the 2016 presidency succeeded, according to Politico, which also reported that Sandberg had advised Hillary Clinton's campaign on women's issues.
During Michael Bloomberg's 2016 presidential run, she was a top choice to be his Vice President, a person who worked on his campaigns said.
One person familiar with Sandberg's circle of friends told Insider, "The election years put her in the cross-hairs. She can't win, but apparently she wants Dianne Feinstein's seat." Feinstein is the 88-year-old California Senator who has said she is not stepping down despite complaints from colleagues about her mental acuity reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Another person who worked in California state politics spoke of a rumor that Sandberg had expressed interest in being considered for the open US Senate seat left in 2020 by Kamala Harris.
However, the optimum time to launch a political career may have passed for Sandberg, according to a person involved in high-level Democratic politics who has interacted with Sandberg. "She's too smart to think she can win," this person said. "By the time Kamala's seat opened up, we were a very long way from 2015. She can read the political winds well enough to know that was not on the menu."
Indeed, when Bloomberg ran for president again in 2020, Sandberg was not on his list, according to the person who worked on his campaigns. "No candidate would have wanted to even stand next to her," this person said. "The cache she had is gone."
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