13-year Facebook veteran, Chief Product Officer, and the spirit animal of the social network Chris Cox is departing the company after two years of seeking to do something new. Cox’s exit is part of a big executive reshuffle as Facebook embarks on prioritizing privacy through messaging, groups, Stories, and backend unification of its chat features.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained the departure of his long-time friend, saying “For a few years, Chris has been discussing with me his desire to do something else . . . But after 2016, we both realized we had too much important work to do to improve our products for society, and he stayed to help us work through these issues and help us chart a course for our family of apps going forward. At this point, we have made real progress . . . As we embark on this next major chapter, Chris has decided now is the time to step back from leading these teams.”
Cox bowing out after so long is understandable, but more surprising is today’s departure of Chris Daniels, an 8-year employee who was moved from being head of Internet.org to VP of WhatsApp just last May in a major re-org. Daniels always felt like a strange choice to oversee international chat leader WhatsApp and its struggles with misinformation in India given he’d led Internet.org when its zero-rated Free Basics app was banned in India for violating net neutrality.
The changes solidify that Facebook is entering a new era as it chases the trend of feed sharing giving way to private communication. Cox and Daniels may feel they’ve done their part advancing Facebook’s product, and that the company needs renewed energy as it shifts from a relentless growth focus to keeping its users loyal while learning to monetize a new from of social networking.
Here’s the breakdown of the executive changes:
.Chris Cox will depart Facebook, but hasn’t revealed plans for what’s next. He will not be immediately replaced
.Chris Daniels will leave WhatsApp, and Facebook declined to provide any details on why or the circumstances
.Will Cathcart will go from running the main Facebook app to VP of WhatsApp