Zuckerberg wrote that Cox considered leaving years ago to pursue new projects, but he made a decision to stay in 2016, around the time Facebook began taking heat for acting as a conduit for misinformation and Russian election interference. 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.
"Since we have now decided on the basic direction of our family of apps for the next few years, I do not plan on immediately appointing anyone to fill Chris's role in the near term", Zuckerberg wrote.
Cox "is a great guy who is someone who has always tried to do good", said David Kirkpatrick, an author who became well acquainted with Cox and Zuckerberg while writing a book about Facebook.
Shares of Facebook were down 1.7 percent in extended trading following the announcement. Facebook's chief product officer, Chris Cox, and Chris Daniels, who heads the messaging app WhatsApp, are departing.
Facebook isn't hiring another executive to replace Cox.
"At this point, we have made real progress on many issues and 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 continued.
Cox was in charge of Facebook's apps including its flagship social media site, as well as Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.
Daniels has been at Facebook almost nine years, and previously led the company's Internet.org effort, a project aimed at bringing internet access to developing countries. Zuckerberg wants to encrypt user content and make posts, messages, and photos ephemeral, much like Snapchat. In a note to employees about Cox's departure, Zuckerberg said Cox had been talking to him for a few years about doing something else but chose to stay after 2016 to help improve the social network.
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. "Facebook Inc.is a massive and evolving company, so it's only natural that in a company that large, not everyone will agree with every strategic change", she said.
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