Facebook on Thursday announced the departure of two key executives, Chief Product Officer Chris Cox and WhatsApp VP Chris Daniels. The leadership shakeup coincides with Facebook’s recently-announced efforts to become a more privacy-focused platform. It also comes as the social media giant faces continued scrutiny from government entities in the US and abroad for its data-handling practices.
Cox, a longtime employee who was responsible for overseeing Facebook’s family of apps, noted in his own Facebook post that the company is “turning a new page” in its product direction, focused on an encrypted, interoperable, messaging network.
“This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through,” he wrote.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post that does not plan on immediately appointing anyone to replace Cox. Instead, the managers of Facebook’s apps — which include the flagship Facebook app, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp — will report directly to Zuckerberg. Chief Marketing Officer Antonio Lucio will report directly to COO Sheryl Sandberg. Meanwhile, Javier Olivan will lead the effort to better integrate the Facebook apps.
With Daniels’ departure, WhatsApp will be led by Will Cathcart, who most recently led the Facebook app.
“In his career here, Will has helped lead our teams focused on security and integrity, and he believes deeply in providing end-to-end encryption to everyone in the world across our services,” Zuckerberg wrote in his note.
The Facebook app will be overseen by Fidji Simo, who led the team for much of the past year while Cathcart was on paternity leave.
A number of other high-profile leaders at Facebook have left in recent years, as the company has struggled to tamp down controversy. Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger resigned in September, while WhatsApp founder Jan Koum left last April.