Sheryl Sandberg joins the billionaires' club

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg hit a wealth milestone this week when the social network’s rising stock price drove her personal fortune above the $1 billion mark.

Cue up the jokes about “leaning in.”

At 44, the Facebook chief operating officer – responsible for running the business side of the company and reporting directly to CEO Mark Zuckerberg – is one of the youngest female billionaires in the world, according to the folks at Bloomberg, the financial news service, which tracks this sort of thing.

Sandberg holds about 12.3 million shares in Facebook, a stake that was worth about $750 million when Facebook stock hit a record high of $58.51 on Tuesday. The value sank a little on Wednesday as the stock price declined. But not to worry: Sandberg also holds 4.7 million options and has already collected about $300 million by selling shares since the company went public in 2012.

And don’t forget she was a successful executive at Google before Zuckerberg hired her, so she probably managed to build a little nest egg from her salary and stock grants there.

As a billionaire, Sandberg is in rare company: Forbes has reported that women are still a distinct minority in the ranks of the world’s wealthiest individuals.

And with the success of her book, “Lean In,” about women in the workplace, there’s been renewed speculation that Sandberg may be interested in public office.  She has plenty of contacts in Washington, after serving as chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.

“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,” journalist David Kirkpatrick, author of the book “The Facebook Effect,” told Bloomberg.

But as we reported recently, Sandberg has continued to duck questions about her future plans.

(Photo of Sheryl Sandberg by Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Brandon Bailey Brandon Bailey (341 Posts)

Brandon Bailey covers Google, Facebook and Yahoo for the San Jose Mercury News, reporting on the business and culture of the Internet.