Analysis

Chris Cox. Photo from Facebook.

Facebook chief product officer Chris Cox is calling it quits with the company following creative differences with chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. Joining him is Chris Daniels, who was formerly in charge of the company’s WhatsApp platform. Both were members of Zuckerberg’s inner circle. Their leaving signifies potential turmoil for the company as its focus for the future changes.

Moving on to Other Ventures

In a recent post, Cox explained that he gave his final orientation to Facebook staffers last Monday. He later wrote:


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“For over a decade, I’ve been sharing the same message that Mark and I have always believed: that social media’s history is not yet written, and its effects are not neutral. It is tied up in the richness and complexity of social life. As its builders, we must endeavor to understand its impact – all the good and all the bad – and take up the daily work of bending it towards the positive and towards the good. This is our greatest responsibility… I’m proud of the team who will succeed me… They are strong leaders, serious thinkers, good managers, and most importantly, deeply good people. I trust that, along with Mark, they will carry on the work of building out our platforms in a way that honors the responsibilities we have to the billions of people who rely upon our tools each day.”

A Little Background

Trouble began when Zuckerberg unveiled a strategy to integrate all the company’s applications – including WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger – into a single, private platform that would focus more on keeping people’s personal data secure and discourage public posting. Zuckerberg has been struggling to alleviate the company of its sullied reputation following the Cambridge Analytica scandal that occurred in 2018.

Several of the company’s primary executives showed deep concern regarding the shift. They think Facebook’s popularity and growth factors would be scarred. There was also fear over losing power and autonomy according to anonymous staff members.

Regarding the loss of his executives, Zuckerberg issued his own statement, explaining:

“Embarking on this new vision represents the start of a new chapter for us. While it is sad to lose such great people, this also creates opportunities for more great leaders who are energized about the path ahead to take on new and bigger roles.”

What Others Are Saying

Zuckerberg’s new direction for Facebook has been met with mixed reactions from observers in the finance and technology arenas. Ben Horowitz – a venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz – said he was impressed with Zuckerberg’s commitment to a more privacy-oriented system. However, it’s a huge change that many people aren’t likely to appreciate at first. The move is a huge “cultural departure” from what has been arguably the world’s most open and transparent social network.

Similar with Cox, Daniels claims he disagrees with Zuckerberg’s decision to fuse all the company’s applications into one, and says the move will hurt WhatsApp’s popularity, which he says is heaviest outside the U.S. Allegedly Daniels resigned from Facebook several months ago. Earlier this week the news was made public.

A Troubling 12 Months

Facebook has been experiencing its fair share of internal problems for over a year. Last September, Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger left their posts following ongoing “tension” with Zuckerberg. Jan Koum – the co-founder of WhatsApp – handed in her resignation last April following attempts to limit the application’s security. WhatsApp’s other co-founder Brian Acton also left the company last March. Prompted by Cambridge Analytica, he advised all users to “delete Facebook.”

It is unclear what financial bearings these latest departures will have for Facebook. At press time, the company’s stock is down by nearly three percent.

 

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