Last May, after a decade of uncommon stability in his 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 focused on privacy initiatives, which was never heard again.) And for Chris Cox, the company's chief product officer and one of Zuckerberg's most trusted lieutenants, the move was a consolidation of power: Leaders of the Facebook app, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger would now all report to him.
Zuckerberg, who has become known in recent months for his epic blog posts, was unusually quiet about the strategic thinking behind these moves. But at some point, another strategy began to filter: the one he announced last week, which promised to move the company towards a future dominated not by public feeds but by private, encrypted messaging. And today, with this new ascending strategy, Zuckerberg has announced another set of dramatic changes. Chris Cox leaves the company after more than a decade. And the change of direction seems to be a big reason why. (See Ryan Mac for more information on this.)
Here's how Cox described the reasons for his departure, as noted by Nick Thompson and Fred Vogelstein in Wired :
"As Mark pointed out, We are transforming a new page in the direction of our product, focused on an encrypted and interoperable messaging network.It is a vision of the product in line with today's topic: a modern communication platform that balances expression, security, security and privacy. This will be a great project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction. "
I wrote on a plane from the South South West, where I interviewed the former chief Facebook security, Alex Stamos, on Facebook's planned passage to private messaging. (Podcast to be released soon!) Stamos said that, in his opinion, Zuckerberg's memorandum was a bad time for boats ̵
the way to go, it is difficult not to be in tune with Cox's decision to leave. In a goodbye post, Zuckerberg said Cox was hoping to leave "a few years ago", but then the consequences of the 2016 elections arrived and made unrealizable. (No senior executive wants to be missed escaping the door during the worst crisis in company history.) Cox oversaw the creation of one of the most successful technology products in history, from a growth and revenue point of view, and who can blame him for don't be excited to try everything again?
At the same time, the move could be negative for morale. Cox has long been among the company's most famous executives, as a long-time leader of new employee guidance and voice cheerleader for Facebook internally. (Even the movie star has a beautiful look.) It seems fair to say that the social media showdown caught him off guard (like me and many others) – he released far fewer interviews since 2016 than he did done in the previous years, when it was still a game to talk to people like me for product launches.
Cox may have waited more than two years to write his goodbye post, but still leaves an embarrassing moment for Facebook – like a new Criminal investigation follows in New York on data sharing practices and a day later the longest interruption of the site in memory. Of course, there is never a good time to leave a job like this – but almost certainly it would have been a better .
Zuckerberg said today that he will not appoint a replacement for Cox as product manager. Instead, Javier Olivan, who ran a division called "central product services", will take on the task of further homogenizing the Facebook app family, while their individual leaders will report to Zuckerberg himself.
Elsewhere in the company:
Chris Daniels is out at WhatsApp . Daniels, who previously managed Internet.org, made few public comments in the 10 months he ran WhatsApp. On the one hand, the company continued to grow, especially in its main markets such as Brazil and India; On the other hand, it triggered an almost constant series of public relations crises, as it was used to spread misinformation and hatred around the world. Enough or not, Daniels made a powerful enemy in the Indian government, and I imagine Zuckerberg sees some positive aspects in cleaning the board again
. Cathcart will replace Daniels . Cathcart is a keen and considerate leader who previously oversaw the News Feed. To have an idea of how he thinks, take a look at this long and profitable chat I had with him in 2016 on the role of Facebook in journalism. My only quibble with this move is the optics. 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 another WhatsApp market. That is to say: not another white from Menlo Park.
Fidji Simo is taking over the Facebook app . Simo is a dynamic speaker, a good product mind, and – still too rare in the top ranks of Facebook – a woman. It is not the great who is handed the reins to Big Blue the month in which Zuckerberg designates it as yesterday's news feed. But last year showed us that this is the first place on the Facebook bench. Adam Mosseri, who had it until last May, now runs Instagram; Cathcart, who has had until now, now runs WhatsApp. So wait for Simo's star to continue to grow.
Two final notes: one, when the Facebook story is written, marks 14 March 2019 as the end of the News Feed era. Cox helped design the first iterations of the News Feed and supervised it during the most successful phase. It will not disappear from today to tomorrow, and to its enormous reach it could demonstrate similar resistance to that of Yahoo. But with Cox's departure, his days as the main organizational principle of Facebook are officially behind.
Two, more sources told me that Cox has a secret Twitter account, and he used it to keep up with comments on Facebook while he worked. Now that he's out of the company, with countless millions to invest and the rest of his career ahead of him, I hope the Twitter account comes out of its hiding place.
Microsoft, Facebook, trust and privacy  Benedict Evans has a great companion on the Facebook privacy pin in which he describes it as an attempt to solve the platform's most pressing problems by making part of the platform irrelevant . I am in agreement with Evans: this is the most likely way in which Facebook "solves" all the problems it has concentrated on since 2016.
Very similar to the transition from Windows to cloud and ChromeOS, you could see this as an attempt to remove the problem rather than correct it. Russians cannot become viral in your news feed if there is no news. & # 39; Researchers & # 39; they cannot analyze your data if Facebook does not have your data. Solve the problem by making it irrelevant.
And finally …
Twitter managing director Jack Dorsey praises, appears on the anti-vaccine fitness personality podcast
At some point I will write the Twitter story as a season of Veep which never ends. The favorite episodes included Twitter accidentally suspending Jack Dorsey's account; Dorsey unleashed an international incident by raising a sign that someone had delivered to him in India; and sparking a second international incident by taking a meditation retreat in a country where social networks contributed to the genocide.
However, in this week's Twitter episode of Twitter-as- Veep Dorsey went on with another crazy podcast and … oops, the podcaster is an anti-vaccine nut! I'd like to ask for a shot myself now, doctor … something that stuns me for the rest of the flight.
Talk to me
Send me suggestions, comments, questions and your best tips for Chris Cox next move: email@example.com.