On Business Insider, Henry Blodget floats the idea that apparently-stepping down Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner could and maybe should be replaced by…wait for it…Sheryl Sandberg.
You know—Larry Summers’ former chief of staff who’s since gone on to work at Google and Facebook.
Being Treasury Secretary these days is a thankless job, given the hatred of the Wall Street bailouts, the failure of financial reform, and the massive stimulus and support the government is still directing to the nation’s big banks. But if anyone could pull it off and not become an object of loathing, it would be Sheryl. Unlike Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Sheryl also has enough distance from Wall Street that she could do the job without appearing to be a pawn of the big banks and alienating most of the country in the process.
I wonder slightly about Blodget’s use of Sandberg’s first name there—are they friends? (If not, would he use the first name of a man he didn’t know while nominating him for Treasury secretary? Hard to imagine.)
More important, Sandberg’s qualifications for the position are absurdly thin. Being chief of staff at Treasury does not mean that you have to understand economics; it means that you have to be good at running an office. And from what I can tell, her jobs at Google and Facebook have been, essentially, marketing and business development. Business Insider, however, calls her a “Facebook goddess.”
Sandberg has always enjoyed adoring reviews from the media. I can’t see why. (Or, actually, maybe I can.)
The Business Week profile linked to above gives this as an example of Sandberg’s brilliant decisionmaking:
She convened a series of regular after-work meetings at the company’s downtown Palo Alto offices, ordering in food and scrawling potential revenue opportunities on white boards. The possibilities, she recalls, boiled down to two categories—making users pay or making advertisers pay. Employees quickly agreed with her that the latter was far more appealing. “It was stressful because this was about our entire business and all of our revenue,” she says.
Um…yes. But is that really a difficult decision? Consider the thought process:” If we charge users, then lots of them will drop out or not sign up and a competing site will start up that doesn’t, especially since a plurality of our users belong to a generation which doesn’t believe you should have to pay for anything online. Okay, let’s not charge users.” Done. This is not rocket science.
Blodget describes Sandberg’s as “one of the names that came up” in discussions of a replacement for Geithner. He doesn’t say where, other than his own column, and a Google search for “Sheryl Sandberg” and “Treasury secretary” turns up…Blodget’s column.
I know Henry a little bit and think highly of him, but this trial balloon should be quickly deflated.