Two of Facebook’s most important executives are leaving the company amid its decision to refocus its platform around encryption and privacy.
Chris Cox, Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, and Chris Daniels, who has lead WhatsApp since the departure of founder Jan Koum, are both leaving the company. Both men are long-serving Facebook veterans — Cox was one of Facebook’s earliest employees, and Daniels has been with the company since 2011 — and trusted lieutenants of Mark Zuckerberg.
Their departures come barely a week after Zuckerberg announced sweeping changes to Facebook, in order re-orient the social network around encryption and privacy. A big piece of that plan hinges on combining the messaging infrastructure of WhatsApp, Instagram, and facebook Messenger. In a memo to employees, Zuckerberg suggested the events were linked.
“Embarking on this new vision represents the start of a new chapter for us. As part of this, I’m sad to share the news that Chris Cox has decided to leave the company,” he wrote. “At the same time, as we embark on this new chapter, Chris Daniels has also decided to leave the company.”
While Zuckerberg also said that Cox had spoken before about his desire to leave the company, that his departure is tied directly to Facebook’s so-called privacy pivot, is significant.
In a post on his Facebook page, Cox also directly mentioned the upcoming shift. “As Mark has outlined, we are turning a new page in our product direction, focused on an encrypted, interoperable, messaging network. It’s a product vision attuned to the subject matter of today: a modern communications platform that balances expression, safety, security, and privacy,” he wrote.
“This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through.”
Zuckerberg said he has no plans to replace Cox, though Daniels will be replaced by Will Cathcart, another longtime Facebook veteran. Fidji Simo, who has worked on Facebook’s video strategy, will be in charge of the Facebook app, but won’t have the same title as Cox.
“Since we have now decided on the basic direction of our family of apps for the next few years, I do not plan on immediately appointing anyone to fill Chris’s role in the near term,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Instead, the leaders of Facebook (Fidji Simo), Instagram (Adam Mosseri), Messenger (Stan Chudnovsky), and WhatsApp (Will Cathcart) will report directly to me, and our Chief Marketing Officer (Antonio Lucio) will report directly to Sheryl.”