Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer has officially joined the elite club of female billionaires after Facebook’s stock closed at a record high last Tuesday. Sandberg, who owns about 12.3 million shares of the company, found her stake to be valued at $750m (£452m). In addition to the $300 million in Facebook stock Bloomberg reports she's sold since the company's initial public offering in May 2012, she was that year's highest paid woman with earnings of $26.2 million.
Sandberg is the Youngest Female Self-made Billionaire
According to Forbes, there were just 138 total billionaires on Earth last year among 1,426 people who control the global economy. Sandberg's latest achievement officially nominates Sandberg as the youngest female self-made billionaire.
Meanwhile, only 24 of the billionaire women on the Forbes list are self-made. The wealthiest self-made woman is a former-seamstress, Rosalia Mera, whose company Inditex is best known for owning Zara.
Other women who have made their billions through fashion include New Yorker Tory Burch (famed for her £200 ballet flats), and 42-year-old Sara Blakely, who in 2012 became the youngest self-made female billionaire thanks to Spanx, her bone-crushing underwear range.
Interestingly, in October 2013 Oprah was overthrown as the richest self-made black woman in the world by the Nigerian oil tycoon Folorunsho Alakija, who boasts a fortune of $7.3bn (£4.4bn) compared with Oprah's $2.9bn (£1.7bn). The TV queen does, however, remain the sole African-American billionaire in the US.
An Influential Figure
Sandberg's influence has risen alongside her wealth. Her book ‘Lean In’, published earlier this year, fueled intense public discourse about women in the workplace as it called for them to shed their insecurities and push for the things they deserve, like raises and leadership positions. She has also been actively advocating for and giving advice to women aiming for reaching the top of their professions.
She once told TEDWomen co-host Pat Mitchell at TEDWomen 2013 “Everywhere I go, CEOs, mostly men, say to me, ‘You’re costing me so much money’, because women are speaking up and asking for what they feel they deserve. To them I say, I’m not sorry at all”.
The Vogue wrote about her in May 2010: "Whether you call it “scaling the company” or “managing hypergrowth,” Sandberg is one of the few executives on earth with a demonstrated knack for it. It’s clear why Zuckerberg, in particular, needed her".
Overall, it’s great to see that women entrepreneurs are enlarging the billionaire rank list. Fortunately, Sandberg is not only a Silicon Valley executive. She is also a prominent public figure who in using her wealth for philanthropic and political purposes, has been actively seeking for improving women’s economic prospects.