Last May, after a decade of unusual stability in their executive ranks, Mark Zuckerberg announced a series of dramatic changes. He moved two top managers to create a new blockchain division and installed new leaders on WhatsApp and News Feed. (He also appointed someone to run a new group that focused on privacy initiatives that were never heard again.) And for Chris Cox, the company's chief executive officer and one of Zuckerberg's most trusted lieutenants, the move represented a consolidation of power: Leader of the Facebook app Instagram, WhatsApp Messenger should now all report to him.
Zuckerberg, who has become known in recent months for his epic-length blog posts, was uncharacteristically silent about the strategic thinking behind these moves. But at one point another strategy began to percolate: the one he revealed last week, who promised to move the company towards a future, did not dominate public flows but through private encrypted messages. And today, with the new strategy as rising, Zuckerberg announced another series of dramatic changes. Chris Cox leaves the company after more than a decade. And the change in direction seems to be a big reason why. (See Ryan Mac for more information on this.)
Here's how Cox describes the reasons for his departure, noted by Nick Thompson and Fred Vogelstein in Wired :
"As Mark has outlined, makes a new page in our product direction, focused on an encrypted, interoperable, messaging network, which is a product vision that is adapted to the current topic: a modern communication platform that balances expression, security, security and integrity. will need leaders who are happy to see the new direction through. "
I wrote this on a plane back from the Southwest, where I interviewed Facebook's former security manager, Alex Stamos, about Facebook's planned transition to private messages . (Podcast coming!) Stamos said that in his view he broke the boat's moment ̵
Looking ahead, it is difficult not to be sympathetic to Cox's decision to leave. In a farewell post, Zuckerberg said that Cox had hoped to leave "a few years ago", but then came the succession of the 2016 election and made it unthinkable. (No top manager wants to be seen by running the door during the worst crisis in company history.) Cox oversaw the creation of one of the most successful technological products in history, from a growth and income perspective, and who can blame him for not being excited try everything again?
Meanwhile, the move is likely to be bad for morality. Cox has long been among the most popular executives in the company, as a long-term leader for new employment orientations and vocal cheerleader for Facebook internally. (The movie star also looks like help.) It seems fair to say that the cultural calculation of social media caught him (like me and many others) off guard – he has given far fewer interviews since 2016 than he did this year before, when he was still a game to talk to people like me for product launches.
Cox may have waited more than two years to write his resignation blog, but he still leaves a difficult time for Facebook – as a new criminal investigation swirls in New York over data participation and one day after the longest break in the memory. Sure, it is never good to leave a job like this – but it could also have been a better one.
Zuckerberg said today that he will not appoint a replacement for Cox as head of product manager. Instead, Javier Olivan, who ran a division called "central product services", will take over the task of further homogenizing Facebook's family of apps, while their individual leaders will report to Zuckerberg himself.
Elsewhere in the company:
Chris Daniels is out on WhatsApp . Daniels, who previously ran Internet.org, made some public comments during the 10 months he ran WhatsApp. On the one hand, the company continued to grow, especially in its core markets such as Brazil and India; On the other hand, it triggered a near-constant series of PR crises, as it used to spread erroneous information and hate speech around the world. Quite or not, Daniels made a strong enemy in the Indian government, and I imagine Zuckerberg looking something up and knocking out the slate again.
Will Cathcart take over for Daniels . Cathcart is a sharp, caring leader who previously monitored the news flow. To get a sense of how he believes, check out this long productive chat I had with him in 2016 about Facebook's role in journalism. My only jaw with this move is the optic. The leader of WhatsApp is among other things a diplomat. I wonder if Zuckerberg would not be better served by someone with credibility in India, Brazil or any other top WhatsApp market. That is, no other white guy from Menlo Park.
Fidji Simo takes over the Facebook app . Simo is a dynamic speaker, a good product mind and – still too rare in Facebook's foremost point – a woman. It is not good that she gets the teeth of Big Blue the month that Zuckerberg describes it as yesterday's news flow. But the past year we have shown that this is the best place on Facebook's bench. Adam Mosseri, who held it until last May, now runs Instagram; Cathcart, who had it until today, is now running WhatsApp. So expect Simo's star to continue to rise.
Two final notes: one, when Facebook's story is written, mark March 14, 2019 as the end of the News Feed era. Cox helped to design the first iterations of the news flow and monitored it during its most successful phase. It won't disappear overnight, and in its huge scale can show a Yahoo-like endurance. But with Cox's resignation, its days as the central organizational principle for Facebook are now officially behind it.
Two, several sources have said that Cox has a secret Twitter account and used it to keep up to date with comments on Facebook while working. Now that he is out of the company, with countless millions to invest and the rest of his career in front of him, I hope the Twitter account will be hiding.
Microsoft, Facebook, Trust and Integrity  Benedict Evans has a really good companion on Facebook's pivot to privacy, where he describes it as an attempt to solve the platform's most pressing problem by making a part of the platform irrelevant. I agree with Evans: this is the most likely way that Facebook actually "solves" some of the issues it has focused on since 2016.
As moving from Windows to clouds and ChromeOS, you can see this as an attempt to take remove the problem instead of patching it. Russians cannot become viral in your news feed unless there is a new flow. "Researchers" cannot scratch your data if Facebook does not have your data. You solve the problem by making it irrelevant.
And finally …
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey praises, appears on the podcast of anti-vaccine fitness personality
At a time I will write Twitter's history as a season of Veep that never ends. Favorite sections would include Twitter accidentally canceling the Jack Dorsey account; Dorsey triggered an international incident by holding a sign that someone submitted to him in India; and trigger a second international event by taking meditation to a country where social networks had contributed to genocide.
Anyway, in the week's episode of Twitter-as- Veep Dorsey continued another freaking podcast and … oops, the podcast is an anti-vaccine nut! I'd like to ask for a shot myself now, Doctor … something that knocks me out for the rest of the flight.
Talk to me
Send me tips, comments, questions and your best recommendations for Chris Cox next move: firstname.lastname@example.org.