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15 Mar 2019

Mark Zuckerberg loses two key Facebook executives

Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox, the product visionary who worked alongside company founder Mark Zuckerberg for more than a decade building some of the company's most important products, including early versions of News Feed, is leaving the company.

Zuckerberg announced that Cox, whose Facebook shares are worth an estimated $62 million, is departing the company as it launches a major privacy initiative he outlined in a manifesto last week.

"As we embark on this next major chapter, Chris has decided now is the time to step back from leading these teams," Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. "I will really miss Chris, but mostly I am deeply grateful for everything he has done to build this place and serve our community.

Chris Daniels, who took over operations of WhatsApp following the departure of CEO and co-founder Jan Koum, is also leaving.

Read more: WhatsApp Founder Brian Acton Gives The Inside Story Of #DeleteFacebook And Why He Left $850 Million Behind.

Cox said he's been with Facebook since age 23, helping shape its products and culture as one of the company's first 15 software engineers. The executive, whom Forbes once described as "the most important executive in Silicon Valley that no one is talking about," is a close friend and confidant of Zuckerberg's who has risen up the ranks, running Facebook's human resources and recruiting programs before being named vice president of product in 2008 and, finally, chief product officer in 2014.

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Last May, he was put in charge of Facebook's family of apps — Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, and he was considered by some to be Zuckerberg's heir apparent.

For Facebook's 36,000 employees, he set the cultural tone, guiding orientations for new employees. Despite this long standing, a post on his Facebook page suggested he wasn't the right person to lead the social network's next chapter, which follows years of scandals about how its products handled its 2.3 billion users' private information.

"As Mark has outlined, we are turning a new page in our product direction, focused on an encrypted, interoperable, messaging network," said Cox. "It's a product vision attuned to the subject matter of today: a modern communications platform that balances expression, safety, security, and privacy. This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through."

Facebook has seen a spate of high profile departures, from the exit last April of WhatsApp's Koum, the departure in last August of chief security officer Alex Stamos and last September's announcement that Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger would leave.

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