Chris Cox, one of the first handful of engineers hired to Facebook, a close personal friend of Mark Zuckerberg’s and, until very recently, Chief Product Officer of the entire suite of the company’s products, is departing the company.
He’s joined on his way out the door by Chris Daniels, Vice President of WhatsApp. Both began their current roles less than a year ago.
Notably, these high-level exits follow the exodus of WhatsApp founder Jan Koum in April, and Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger—co-founders of Instagram—in September, all amid rumors the Facebook “family of apps” would pursue some sort of messaging amalgam that would join its userbases on the aforementioned apps to those on Facebook Messenger. Those rumors were later confirmed by a lengthy post from Zuckerberg himself where he spun the roll-up as a chance to refocus his embattled and untrusted company on privacy.
It’s been speculated that these former heavyweights within the company were chafing under this change in direction.
“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,” Zuckerberg stated in his goodbye note to Cox. “As we embark on this next major chapter, Chris has decided now is the time to step back from leading these teams.”
Will Cathcart was announced as the new lead on WhatsApp, while Zuckerberg, apparently consolidating power as he prepares to merge the apps in some way or another, states he does “not plan on immediately appointing anyone to fill Chris’s role in the near term.”