Facebook loses CPO Chris Cox and WhatsApp VP Chris Daniels
Etz Alfred Banty|March. 14, 2019
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 integration 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.”
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:
Cox was one of Facebook’s first 15 engineers, joining in 2005 after Zuckerberg convinced him to drop out of a Stanford grad program. He became Facebook’s Director of Human Resources and then in 2008, its VP of product. He was promoted to CPO in 2014 and aided in Facebook’s clean up after the 2016 presidential election, working on misinformation and at-risk countries to deter future attacks on democracy. Over the years, he remained a fixture of Zuckerberg’s inner circle of friends and lieutenants. Oh, and he’s a wicked keyboardist who plays is a very respectable reggae band.
Known for his hit talk revealing the Timeline profile at F8 2011 and giving rousing orientation speeches to each batch of new Facebook employees, Cox’s departure could drag on Facebook’s already-shaky morale. Some staffers saw him as a preferred replacement for Zuckerberg should he ever leave the CEO role. That leaves the line of succession an open question at Facebook, with Sandberg, Olivan, and Mosseri as the most likely candidates. Cox was seen as so essential that Facebook filed an 8-K disclosure with the SEC about his departure.
Mark Zuckerberg’s blog post
Chris Cox’s Facebook Post
It is with great sadness I share with you that after thirteen years, I’ve decided to leave the company. Since I was twenty-three, I’ve poured myself into these walls. The pixels, the code, the products we’ve built together, the language, the culture, the values, the big ideas, and most of all, the people. Most all my personal highs and lows of the last decade have been tied up in the journey of this company, with Mark, and with so many of you. This place will forever be a part of me. On Monday I gave my last orientation at Facebook to a hundred new faces. For over a decade, I’ve been sharing the same message that Mark and I have always believed: social media’s history is not yet written, and its effects are not neutral. It is tied up in the richness and complexity of social life. As its builders we must endeavor to understand its impact — all the good, and all the bad — and take up the daily work of bending it towards the positive, and towards the good. This is our greatest responsibility. 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. This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through. I’m proud of the team who will succeed me: Fidji, Will, Adam, Stan, and Antonio. They are strong leaders, serious thinkers, good managers, craftspeople, and most importantly, deeply good people. I trust that, along with Mark, they will carry on the work of building out our platforms in a way that honors the responsibilities we have to the billions of people who rely upon our tools each day. Mark, thank you for creating this place, and for the chance to work beside a dear friend for over thirteen years. Thank you Sheryl, Schrep, and Javi for your partnership, and for showing me what a wise and dedicated team is meant to be. And to the company: thank you for your creativity, humanity, resilience, and sleepless nights. It has been an honor to work alongside you and I will miss you dearly. -Chris