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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg Transitions Back to Work Today, After Death of Husband

The key exec will be operating on a modified schedule, instead of taking a leave.

Sheryl Sandberg/Facebook

There will be a moment of silence today at Facebook’s Hacker Square to honor the late David Goldberg, the well-regarded Silicon Valley entrepreneur who died 10 days ago while vacationing in Mexico.

After that, his wife, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, will be transitioning back to work, a spokesman for Facebook said, after she and her family completed a week of shiva, as well as a large memorial service at Stanford University, to honor her husband. But she will be operating on a slightly different schedule, planning to be at the office when their two young children are at school and suspending travel for work for the foreseeable future.

Sandberg decided to return to Facebook — rather than taking a leave — on advice from child psychologists who suggested that kids often benefit by trying to get back to typical routines quickly. While personal situations vary, Sandberg will operate on this modified schedule, the spokesman said, with the support of CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg and Sandberg have one of the more successful business partnerships in Silicon Valley, forming a strong business relationship and also personal friendship since she arrived there in 2008 from Google.

Given the delicate and tragic situation, new companies like Facebook do not have easy road maps of how to deal with such issues that might sideline top execs. That is especially true given Sandberg’s wide swath of duties at the social networking giant, which includes all business functions from advertising to human resources to public policy and communications.

While Zuckerberg’s flexibility to address Sandberg’s newly complex life and the support of others in management there is key, Wall Street investors will still focus on her ability to continue to lead Facebook too. The company is considered one of the more powerful and stable in the tech sector, with shares up 38 percent year over year.

SurveyMonkey, the online survey company where the well-liked Goldberg was CEO, has also moved quickly to bolster its leadership last week. It named GoPro exec Zander Lurie as temporary executive chairman as it searches for another leader, both internally and externally. Such quick response is important for the startup, which has been valued at over $2 billion after a recent round of investment.

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