Seventy-two hours before Facebook's big moment, Sheryl K Sandberg was half a world away, hobnobbing with the likes of Bill Gates and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Yes, Sandberg is Mark Zuckerberg's No. 2. And, yes, if all goes well, she will soon become the $1.6 billion woman. But Sandberg, who has helped steer this social network to this once-unimaginable height, had more on her mind than securities filings and ad metrics. She was attending the annual World Economic Forum, in Davos, where her subject wasn't Facebook - but women. Specifically, how women, in her view, must take responsibility for their careers and not blame men for holding them back.
Given that Sandberg is Facebook's COO, and that all of Wall Street was hanging on last week's news, you might think that she was absurdly off-topic. But Sandberg sees herself as more than an executive at one of the hottest companies around - more, too, than someone who will soon rank among the few self-made billionaires who are women. She sees herself as a role model for women in business and technology.
Her call isn't about mentoring and empowering. It is about business strategy. A majority of Facebook's 845 million users are women. So, Sandberg is playing to a powerful and lucrative demographic, as well as to the advertisers who want to reach it. Her talks have gone viral. On YouTube, videos of her speeches have been viewed more than 200,000 times. Some have been included in syllabuses at the Stanford and Harvard business schools. Put simply, she exudes that certain something that seems to leave many people, particularly young women, a bit star-struck.
For all her roles and titles, Sandberg is about to add one more: billionaire. According to Facebook's filing last week, Sandberg made nearly $31 million last year. She owns 1.9 million shares in the company and 39 million in restricted stock options. If Facebook goes public at a valuation of $100 billion, her stake could be worth as much as $1.6 billion. She would rank among the richest self-made women in America, above Meg Whitman ($1.3 billion), but below Oprah ($2.7 billion), according to Forbes.