Facebook's Loss of Product Chief Puts More Pressure on CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Two top Facebook execs are leaving the company

Enlarge Image Chris Cox chief product officer at Facebook Getty Images

Zuckerberg said Cox first mentioned he might leave a few years ago, but chose to stay on after 2016 as evidence emerged that Russians had manipulated Facebook's services to provoke discord in the USA and influence the election won by President Donald Trump.

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 a critical executive at Facebook, working there for more than a decade, helping design and run the news feed and then rising in the ranks to oversee all product at Facebook. In the future, Zuckerberg predicted, Facebook's users will be posting more in messaging apps than they do on their public News Feeds. He pocketed $310 million in gains from exercising Facebook stock options from 2014 through 2017 alone, according to the company's filings with securities regulators.

Chris Daniels, who leads encrypted messaging app WhatsApp, will also depart Facebook, Zuckerberg wrote in a post announcing the news on Thursday.

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In addition to Cox, Zuckerberg also said on Thursday that Chris Daniels, vice president of WhatsApp, is stepping down.

Zuckerberg said he has no plans to replace Cox, though Daniels will be replaced by Will Cathcart, another longtime Facebook veteran.

The departures of Cox and Daniels come a day after a technical issue that limited use of Facebook and Instagram for most of Wednesday. Chris Cox was responsible for Facebook's flagship apps - including WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook itself.

"This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through", he wrote.

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That effort will include introducing WhatsApp encryption technology to Facebook's Messenger app and Instagram's messaging option.

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

He said the new head of the Facebook-owned application would be Fidji Simo, who was previously in charge of video, games and monetization at Facebook.

These two departures come on the heels of founding-executive departures at Facebook-owned Instagram and WhatsApp a year ago.

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