Why She’s a MAKER: Carolyn Everson’s career has taken her from founder of the dot-com era’s biggest flop — Pets.com — to leading Facebook, one of today’s biggest digital players. She’s a regular on Most Powerful Women lists and a leading voice for transforming work culture to embrace the whole individual. A lifelong activist, she’s driven change in gun safety and is on the board of directors for DonorsChoose.org. There’s just a whole lot to “like” about her.
Natural-Born Leader: Everson, who grew up on Long Island, exhibited the makings of an executive from a young age. “As a kid, I never, ever wanted to go to sleep. I ran for student government. I fought very hard for AIDS education. I was an activist. I pushed and pushed and pushed,” she says. “I was probably a bit of a handful for my parents.”
Pet Project: In 1997, at the height of the dot-com boom, Everson was at Harvard Business School hatching plans for a start-up — Pets.com. Within months, she raised $5 million and lined up a CEO. “I flew to San Francisco to meet with her. She and I had very different views on how to build the business. By the time I flew back to campus, I was being terminated. I went from being one of the incredible success stories to crashing and burning.” But without Everson, Pets.com became one of the biggest flops in dot-com history.
On the Rebound: Everson took the Pets.com experience hard, but dusted herself off. “Part of failure is fear of additional failure, but there’s also this incredible push to prove [people] wrong.” She dove into leadership roles across the media and digital industry. Then, in 2010, she got a call from a friend, telling her, “Sheryl Sandberg would like to have a conversation with you.” Everson had the convo and joined Facebook as its global ad sales VP. Under her leadership, the company has grown to be the marketplace leader it is today.