It’s still unclear if the sudden departures of two C-suite Facebook leaders are really part of a restructuring designed to emphasize privacy over profit, or is CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s punishment on people he perceives are behind the mess he’s in.
Zuckerberg announced the executive departures a few days after telling Facebook staff about a major change in company strategy. Part of this revamp will be major changes in the senior leadership.
Departing the embattled social media giant are Chief Product Officer (CPO) Chris Cox, widely regarded by Facebookers as the company’s second-most-powerful exec, and Chris Daniels, Vice-President of WhatsApp.
Shares of Facebook lost as much as 2% in after hours trading Thursday following news of the departures of both men.
Cox, 36, was the former chief of staff to Zuckerberg on product development, and was responsible for Facebook’s family of apps (Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and others). He leaves the company after 13 years.
Daniels became boss at WhatsApp only in May 2018. He previously ran Facebook’s affordable internet initiative. Daniels began working for Facebook in 2011 and before this spent five years at Microsoft Corporation.
Zuckerberg said both these men resigned of their own accord. But in a memo announcing the changes, Zuckerberg also said both departures were linked to the company’s decision to “build out the privacy-focused social platform” or an encrypted messaging network he explained in a lengthy blog post last week.
“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,” said Zuckerberg.
Explaining his departure on his personal Facebook page, Cox referred to Facebook’s recently announced plans to place privacy first by emphasizing private, encrypted and ephemeral conversations across its products.
“As Mark has outlined, we are turning a new page in our product direction,” he wrote. “This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through.”
The departure of Cox and Daniels follows Facebook’s loss of its chief security officer (Alex Stamos), its top policy and communications exec (Elliot Schrage), both founders of Instagram (Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger) and the CEO of WhatsApp (Jan Koum).
Insiders said Facebook’s clumsy organizational structure frustrated other key Facebook executives, including Systrom, Krieger and Koum.
The steady loss of executive talent come amid a painful two year period Facebook has been vilified for abusing user privacy and summoned to testify about the prevalence of fake news and dangerous political ads on its sites.
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