Cox and Zuckerberg appear to be divided over the company's new strategy announced last week that it would focus on privacy rather than connecting with the world at large. In addition to being one of Facebook's earliest employees and a pivotal decision maker on core products like the News Feed, Cox was also widely assumed to be next in line should Mark Zuckerberg ever step away from his perch. Zuckerberg wrote that Cox considered leaving years ago to pursue new projects, but he chose to stay in 2016, around the time Facebook began taking heat for acting as a conduit for misinformation and Russian election interference. "But after 2016, we both realized we had too much important work to do to improve our products for society, and he stayed to help us work through these issues and help us chart a course for our family of apps going forward", Zuckerberg wrote.
A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows that Cox informed Facebook about his intended departure on March 11, just five days after Zuckerberg made his privacy plan public.
"I will always appreciate his deep empathy for the people using our services and the uplifting spirit he brings to everything he does", Zuckerberg said of Cox in his parting note. And Simo, along with the head of Instagram Adam Mosseri, head of Messenger Stan Chudnovsky, and head of WhatsApp Will Cathcart, will report directly to Zuckerberg.
Also departing is WhatsApp Vice President Chris Daniels, adding to a string of recent high-profile exits from Facebook's product and communications teams.
Facebook isn't hiring another executive to replace Cox.
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Cox, the 36-year-old Zuckerberg lieutenant managing his vision for the Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp services, said in a blog he made the announcement "with great sadness". Meanwhile, Javier Olivan will lead the effort to better integrate the Facebook apps.
Originally published March 14, 1:19 p.m. Update, 1:48 p.m.: Includes more background and Zuckerberg's post to employees; 1:55 p.m.: Adds background about other executive departures; 2:15 p.m.: Includes post from Chris Cox.
Forrester analyst Jessica Liu said it sounded like Cox was "subtly disagreeing" with Zuckerberg's privacy memo, based on Cox's farewell post.
Cox and Daniels are among a string of executives who've left Facebook since 2017.
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