Mark Zuckerberg’s right hand man steps down amid plans to unite WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook
Facebook is losing two key executives in the form of chief product officer Chris Cox, and WhatsApp boss Chris Daniels.
The loss of Chris Cox will be the biggest blow to CEO Mark Zuckerberg who counts Cox as a long-term friend, after he joined Facebook way back in 2005 as one of its first employees.
The resignations come as Zuckerberg seeks to develop a privacy “vision” for the future of the social network.
The resignation of Chris Daniels, who used to be head of Internet.org until he was appointed last year as VP of WhatsApp, was long expected.
But the resignation of Zuckerberg’s right hand man in the form of Chris Cox took many by surprise. Cox explained his decision in a Facebook post, that featured a photo of him with an arm around Zuckerberg.
“It is with great sadness I share with you that after thirteen years, I’ve decided to leave the company,” Cox wrote. “Since I was twenty-three, I’ve poured myself into these walls. This place will forever be a part of me.”
Cox went onto discuss the changes that Zuckerberg is driving.
“As Mark has outlined, we are turning a new page in our product direction, focused on an encrypted, interoperable, messaging network,” Cox wrote. “It’s a product vision attuned to the subject matter of today: a modern communications platform that balances expression, safety, security, and privacy. This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through.”
He ended with a personal thank you to Zuckerberg.
“Mark, thank you for creating this place, and for the chance to work beside a dear friend for over thirteen years,” he wrote. “And to the company: thank you for your creativity, humanity, resilience, and sleepless nights. It has been an honour to work alongside you and I will miss you dearly.”
There is some media reports that Cox left over a disagreement with Zuckerberg over his plans to unify the Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram apps.
Zuckerberg also responded to Cox’s departure, saying the news made him sad.
“I’m sad to share the news that Chris Cox has decided to leave the company,” wrote Zuckerberg. “Chris and I have worked closely together to build our products for more than a decade and I will always appreciate his deep empathy for the people using our services. He has played so many central roles at Facebook – starting as an engineer on our original News Feed, building our first HR teams and helping to define our mission and values, leading our product and design teams, running the Facebook app, and most recently overseeing the strategy for our family of apps.”
“For a few years, Chris has been discussing with me his desire to do something else,” said Zuckerberg. “As we embark on this next major chapter, Chris has decided now is the time to step back from leading these teams. I will really miss Chris, but mostly I am deeply grateful for everything he has done to build this place and serve our community.”
Zuckerberg also touch upon the resignation of Chris Daniels.
“At the same time, as we embark on this new chapter, Chris Daniels has also decided to leave the company,” said Zuckerberg. “Chris has also done great work in many roles, including running our business development team, leading Internet.org, which has helped more than 100 million people get access to the internet, and most recently at WhatsApp, where he has helped define the business model for our messaging services going forward.”
In place of the departures, Will Cathcart has been appointed as the new head of WhatsApp. Fidji Simo meanwhile will be the new head of the Facebook app.
Facebook has been rocked by a number of high level departures in the past 18 months.
Last September saw the departures from Facebook of Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who said they wanted to explore their “curiosity and creativity again”.
That came just after WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton had clashed with Facebook management over its attempts to wring money from the app.
Acton admitted that he had sold the privacy of WhatsApp users – one of the core principles upon which WhatsApp was founded.
WhatsApp co-founder Acton had left Facebook in November 2017, and was followed by Jan Koum in May 2018, after he also reportedly clashed with Facebook’s attempts to use its personal data and weaken its encryption.