Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says her company is stepping up to help small and medium businesses hit by the coronavirus.
“We're in the business of small business. The majority of our customers are small businesses, so we're very close to them,” Sandberg told me in a Skype interview from her home Tuesday evening.
Sandberg spoke about Facebook’s recently announced program to provide $100 million in grants to small and medium businesses (SMB) and additional ways the social media giant is looking to help.
“We're not only providing this grant funding, but we're providing a lot of free tools, online training,” she said. “A lot of businesses have to close, but some businesses are trying to stay open and or are shifting business online. So you can set up a free web slash mobile page by using a Facebook page.
“We're training people in how to use our tools and others so that they can migrate their businesses online, and try to keep the lights on, keep businesses up and running through this period,” Sandberg added. “So that was an obvious touch point for us.”
Facebook has seen a spike in traffic on its platforms — Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger — as people who are homebound because of the coronavirus increasingly go online to stay connected and to work.
Sandberg also spoke to Facebook’s commitment to aid news organizations and the media business which are under pressure right now. Even though traffic at news websites is spiking, marketers are wary of putting ads up against coronavirus content.
“We have deep relationships with news agencies. We've announced a $300 million commitment before to help news organizations,” Sandberg said. “It's part of [our] regular responsibility. We've been long focused on local news because we know what the challenge is news organizations are facing. A lot of the hardest hit ones are the local news organizations. So that's been a big focus for us before this, and a special focus for us during this time.”
Andy Serwer is editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter: @serwer.