Scharge has been a key player in Facebook’s public persona and, as of late, rocky dealings with the public for just over a decade. Scharge says this move is one he’s long been thinking about and discussed with CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg. And while the move does come several months after Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica implosion and Zuckerberg’s subsequent Capitol Hill excursion (for which Scharge had court side seats) it is hard to imagine that these didn’t expedite the decision, at least a little.
On his Facebook page, where Scharge aptly made his announcement, he said “leading policy and communications for hyper growth technology companies is a joy — but it’s also intense and leaves little room for much else.”
But, while he may be stepping down from his official role at the company Scharge still plans to stay on as an advisor to Zuckerberg and Sandberg for the time being. While Facebook begins searching externally for Scharge’s replacement, its communication department is being run by Caryn Marooney and Rachel Whetstone, with VP of Global Public Policy Joel Kaplan taking the lead of Facebook’s public policies.
In a statement to Recode, Sandberg reflected on the departure and said “[Scharge’s] been instrumental in building our policy and communications teams [and] Mark and I look forward to his ongoing advice over the years ahead.”
As Facebook begins its journey to rebrand its platform as once more a place for friends, and not the news they consume, Scharge’s replacement may need all the advice they can get.