×

Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox, WhatsApp Head Chris Daniels Are Exiting

Two high-ranking Facebook execs — chief product officer Chris Cox and Chris Daniels, who has run the WhatsApp messaging product — are leaving the company.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the changes in a memo to employees, which Facebook shared in its news blog.

The departures come after Zuckerberg last week outlined a new privacy vision for Facebook, setting plans for private communications on the company’s apps to be fully encrypted — and for user content and messages to self-destruct after a certain period of time.

Cox (pictured above) joined Facebook in 2005 as a software engineer and helped build the first versions of key Facebook features, including News Feed. In 2008 he became Facebook’s first VP of product, where he built the initial product management and design teams, before being promoted to chief product officer in 2014 where he has overseen all of the company’s apps: Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.

“For a few years, Chris has been discussing with me his desire to do something else,” Zuckerberg wrote in the memo. “At this point, we have made real progress on many issues and we have a clear plan for our apps, centered around making private messaging, stories and groups the foundation of the experience, including enabling encryption and interoperability across our services. As we embark on this next major chapter, Chris has decided now is the time to step back from leading these teams.”

In a farewell note Cox posted on Facebook, he said in part that the company’s shift to “a modern communications platform that balances expression, safety, security, and privacy” will be “a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through.”

In what is likely pure coincidence, Facebook’s products suffered record outages and access problems for many users across its suite of apps, including Facebook and Instagram, over a 24-hour period starting Wednesday around noon ET.

Zuckerberg said he doesn’t plan to immediately tap a replacement for Cox. Instead, the heads of each of the products (Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp) report directly to Zuckerberg.

Facebook’s apps strategy has been led jointly by Cox and Javier Olivan, VP of growth, who has been responsible for all of the central product services that work across apps, including safety and integrity, analytics, growth, and ads. Olivan will take on a new role to identify “where our apps should be more integrated,” according to Zuckerberg.

With Daniels also exiting the company — less than a year after Zuckerberg moved the former business development exec from running Facebook’s Internet.org initiative — the new head of WhatsApp is Will Cathcart, who previously has been in charge of running the Facebook app.

According to Zuckerberg, Cathcart “led our shift to focusing on meaningful social interactions and has significantly improved the performance and reliability of the app.” In addition, the CEO noted, Cathcart “believes deeply in providing end-to-end encryption to everyone in the world across our services.”

In addition, Fidji Simo, previously head of video for Facebook, will be the new head of the Facebook app to take over for Cathcart. Simo, who joined the company in 2011 from eBay, had been in charge of video, games and monetization at Facebook, managing a team of more than 600 product managers and engineers.

Facebook hasn’t announced a new head of video to replace Simo. “She has played key roles in building many aspects of the Facebook app, including leading our work on video and advertising,” Zuckerberg wrote. He added that Simo has already led the team for much of 2018 while Cathcart was out on parental leave, and “she is the clear person to lead these efforts going forward.”

“While it is sad to lose such great people, this also creates opportunities for more great leaders who are energized about the path ahead to take on new and bigger roles,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • westworld awakening art

    HBO Launches 'Westworld Awakening' VR Game With Survios

    Ever wanted to enter the world of “Westworld?” Now you can — except it won’t exactly be like you might have imagined it. Instead of being one of those guests living out their fantasies, you will be a host, slowly coming to grips with your life being an elaborate illusion. “Westworld Awakening” has been produced [...]

  • Spotify Announces Upgrades to Family Plan,

    Spotify Announces Upgrades to Family Plan, at No Charge in U.S. and U.K.

    Just days after reports emerged that Spotify is aiming to increase the price of its family plan in its home market of Scandinavia, the streaming giant announced an upgrade to the plan — with no price increase in the U.S. and U.K., where it remains at $14.99 and £15, respectively. A rep for the company [...]

  • Mike Vaughan

    Former Venmo COO Mike Vaughan Joins Stem's Board

    Los Angeles-based music distribution and payments startup Stem has appointed former Venmo executive Mike Vaughan to its board of directors. Vaughan was chief operating officer of Venmo from 2011 until earlier this year, and is now executive in residence at Oak HC/FT. “The music industry can benefit tremendously from innovation in the way money flows [...]

  • Streamy Awards

    Streamy Awards 2019 Return to YouTube for Exclusive Live-Stream

    The 9th Annual Streamy Awards will again be available to stream live on YouTube exclusively. The 2019 awards ceremony will take place at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills on Friday, Dec. 13 and will stream live globally on YouTube via youtube.com/streamys. Videos from the 2018 Streamy Awards received over 6.9 million views on YouTube. [...]

  • Stefan Heinrich Henriquez - Cameo

    Celeb Video-Shoutout Startup Cameo Hires Ex-TikTok Exec Stefan Heinrich Henriquez

    Cameo, a startup that lets consumers purchase video shoutouts from celebrities, tapped Stefan Heinrich Henriquez as chief marketing officer and general manager of international. Heinrich, most recently head of marketing for short-form video app TikTok, will lead the company’s global growth and branding and play a key role in Cameo’s continued global expansion. He’s based [...]

  • Curiosity Stream Altice

    Altice USA Pacts With John Hendricks' CuriosityStream Service

    Altice USA has set a deal with John Hendricks’ CuriosityStream to expand distribution of the science- and history-focused subscription streaming service. The deal will make CuriosityStream available to all Altice USA’s 4.9 million customers across 21 states, including a big cluster serving New York and Connecticut. Altice also plans to add the CuriosityStream app to [...]

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    Lionsgate Play Launching in India With Vodafone Idea

    Premium entertainment service, Lionsgate Play is launching in India through a partnership between telecoms operator Vodafone Idea and Starzplay, the subscription platform from Lionsgate subsidiary Starz. Lionsgate Play offers curated Hollywood content for the Indian consumers, with much of the content available in multiple Indian languages. It currently includes more than 7,500 television episodes and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content