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January 22, 2014

Facebook's Sandberg now one of world's youngest billionaires

Sheryl Sandberg's fortune surpassed $1 billion Tuesday after Facebook closed at a record.

The chief operating officer of the world's most popular social-networking service owns about 12.3 million shares of the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company, which closed at $58.51 in New York. Her stake is valued at about $750 million.

Sandberg has collected more than $300 million selling shares since the company's 2012 initial public offering, and owns about 4.7 million stock options that began vesting last May. The 44-year-old is one of the youngest female billionaires in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

"She was brought in to figure out how to make money," David Kirkpatrick, author of "The Facebook Effect," a history of the company, said in a telephone interview. "It's proving to be one of the greatest stories in business history."

Sandberg's rise in wealth mirrors her broadening role on the global stage. The Harvard graduate and one-time chief of staff for former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers is a donor to President Obama, sits on the board Walt Disney Co., and wrote the bestselling book "Lean In." She was lured from Mountain View, Calif.-based Google in 2008, and stepped down from the board of Starbucks in 2012.

"She went to Google, moved on to go to Facebook, went to write a book, and she'll know when to run for political office, and probably win that office," Kirkpatrick said.

Elisabeth Diana, a Facebook spokeswoman, declined to comment on Sandberg's net worth. The billionaire will attend the World Economic Forum's annual meeting this week in Davos, Switzerland.

Facebook probably had a "solid" fourth quarter with advertisement revenue around $100 million above consensus, Ross Sandler, an analyst at Deutsche Bank AG in New York, wrote in a research report Jan. 7.

"Engagement continues to increase broadly for FB, owing to the strong footprint in mobile," Sandler said in the report. He has a "buy" rating on the company.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, 29, sold more than $2 billion in stock last month and donated another $1 billion to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The world's 23rd- richest person added $12.4 billion to his net worth in 2013, according to the Bloomberg ranking.

Facebook's other co-founders have also seen their fortunes surge. Dustin Moskovitz, the 29-year-old who founded Facebook with Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin and Chris Hughes at Harvard, is the world's 174th-richest person with a net worth of $7.4 billion. He's wealthier than Liberty Media chairman John Malone and fashion mogul Ralph Lauren, and is the youngest billionaire on Earth.

Saverin, 31, controls a $3.2 billion fortune. Hughes, 30, has a net worth of more than $500 million. He bought the New Republic magazine in March 2012.

Peter Thiel, Facebook's first outside investor, sold most of his stake in the company in August 2012, after restrictions on insider sales ended. The majority of the PayPal co- founder's $2.3 billion net worth is derived from his stake in software developer Palantir Technologies.

Facebook's Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman also sold stock. The former Genentech executive has collected almost $100 million selling shares in the past year, according to regulatory filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He owns more than 5 million shares, including stock options, valued at about $300 million.

Mike Schroepfer, the company's chief technology officer, has a stake valued at more than $100 million. The Mozilla and Sun Microsystems veteran has collected about $50 million selling Facebook stock.

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