Facebook product chief Cox to exit as focus shifts to messaging

Irving Hamilton
March 15, 2019

In fixing all the problems, CEO Mark Zuckerberg will now have to do without a key lieutenant who was once seen as a possible successor.

Facebook Inc. said on Thursday that Chief Product Officer Chris Cox is leaving, the highest-ranking executive to depart since the social-media giant became embroiled in crisis previous year.

Chris Cox, Facebook's VP of Product, and Chris Daniels, who has lead WhatsApp since the departure of founder Jan Koum, are both leaving the company.

Cox's departure removes a layer of management, bringing Zuckerberg closer to a family of apps that he wants to make compatible, in what technology analysts expect will be a complicated engineering task.

Cox was in charge of Facebook's apps including its flagship social media site, as well as Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. The company announced it's planning to shift its focus towards privacy and protecting users' information, something it has failed to do in recent times.

Cox, 36, worked closely with Zuckerberg through the company's ups and downs, having joined up about 20 months after Facebook was hatched in 2004 in Zuckerberg's Harvard dorm room.

Zuckerberg, in a separate post, said Cox had discussed the possibility of moving on "for a few years", but had remained for a transition period. He also built Facebook's first human resources teams and oversaw the strategy for the apps that Facebook owns, Zuckerberg wrote.

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"This is an important change as we begin the next chapter of our work building the privacy-focused social foundation for the future", Zuckerberg said in the note.

Cox gained greater oversight of WhatsApp and Instagram following the exits of their founders over the last two years.

Facebook isn't hiring another executive to replace Cox.

Cox's departure comes as Facebook is under fire on a number of fronts.

He did point out Facebook is "turning a new page" by focusing more on messaging and encryption. 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".

Numerous changes Zuckerberg outlined involve duplicating some of WhatsApp's features in Facebook's other messaging apps.

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