Published: Fri, March 15, 2019
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Amid Crisis, Facebook's Top Executive Quits In Highest-Level Departure

Amid Crisis, Facebook's Top Executive Quits In Highest-Level Departure

And just more than a week later, two of its biggest executives are leaving the company. Chief Product Officer Chris Cox and Chris Daniels, who heads messaging app WhatsApp, are departing.

One of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's top lieutenants unexpectedly quit Thursday following news that federal prosecutors are investigating the company's use of private data.

Mr Cox was one of Facebook's first software developers and one of the chief architects of the news feed, the cascade of Facebook posts that is the company's most lucrative source of advertising.

The company does not immediately plan to fill Cox's role, Zuckerberg said, adding that Cathcart, Simo and the heads of Instagram and Messenger will now report directly to him.

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Cox and Zuckerberg appear to be divided over the company's new strategy announced last week that it would focus on privacy rather than connecting with the world at large.

Forrester analyst Jessica Liu said it sounded like Cox was "subtly disagreeing" with Zuckerberg's privacy memo, based on Cox's farewell post.

"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", Zuckerberg said. Instead, the leaders of each app will report to Zuckerberg.

Daniels took the helm of WhatsApp after founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton left the messaging app previous year, reportedly over disagreements about the increased integration of WhatsApp's operations with Facebook's.

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Facebook will not appoint a direct replacement for Cox.

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

"As Mark has outlined, we are turning a new page in our product direction, focused on an encrypted, interoperable, messaging network", Cox wrote. Longtime Facebook executive Will Cathcart will take over Daniels' job running WhatsApp.

"It's a product vision attuned to the subject matter of today: a modern communications platform that balances expression, safety, security and privacy", Cox wrote in a Facebook post.

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Perhaps more than anyone else at Facebook - even more than COO Sheryl Sandberg - Cox was a sounding board for Zuckerberg on product ideas.

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