Facebook product chief Cox to exit as focus shifts to messaging By Reuters

© Reuters. Chris Cox, Chief Product Officer at Facebook, speaks during the Wall Street Journal Digital Live ( WSJDLive ) conference at the Montage hotel in Laguna Beach, California

(Reuters) – Facebook (NASDAQ:) Inc’s chief product officer and one of its earliest employees, Chris Cox, said on Thursday he is leaving the company, just days after Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg revealed a plan to pivot the world’s biggest social network to an encryption-focused messaging company.

Cox, one of Zuckerberg’s closest lieutenants and head of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp products, said in a blog he made the announcement “with great sadness” and was leaving after 13 years with the company.

“As Mark has outlined, we are turning a new page in our 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,” Cox said in a Facebook post.

Shares of Facebook were down 1.7 percent in extended trading following the announcement.

Also departing is WhatsApp Vice President Chris Daniels, Zuckerberg said in a note https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2019/03/a-note-from-mark-zuckerberg to employees.

The company does not immediately plan to fill Cox’s role in the near term, the chief executive said.

Facebook’s family of apps strategy has so far been led jointly by Cox and Javier Olivan, vice president of growth.

Zuckerberg said on Thursday Olivan will now lead identifying where Facebook apps should be more integrated, a key effort as the company moves to encrypt conversations on more of its messaging services and make them compatible.

Cox gained oversight of WhatsApp and Instagram following the exits of their founders.

In September, Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger resigned as chief executive officer and chief technical officer of the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook.

Jan Koum, the co-founder of WhatsApp, left in April last year.

Will Cathcart, vice president of product management, will now lead WhatsApp, and Head of Video, Games and Monetization Fidji Simo will be the new head of the Facebook app, Zuckerberg said. Both Cathcart and Simo will report directly to the CEO.

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