In May last year, after decades of unusual stability in executive ranks, Mark Zuckerberg announced a series of dramatic changes. He moved two top executives to create a new blockchain split and installed new leaders on WhatsApp and News Feed. (He also named someone who would lead a new group of privacy initiatives that he had never heard of.) And for Chrisa Cox, the company's chief producer and one of Zuckerberg's most trusted lieutenants, this move was a power consolidation: Leaders on Facebook application, Instagram, WhatsAppu, Messenger would now report it to everyone.
Zuckerberg, who has become known for the last few months for his epic length posts, was unusually calm about the strategic thinking behind these moves. But at some point, another strategy began to pervade: the one it presented last week, which promised the company's move toward the future, dominated by non-public feeds, but a private, encrypted message. Today, with this new strategy, Zuckerberg has announced another series of dramatic changes. Chris Cox leaves the company after more than a decade. It seems to be a move in the direction of a big reason. (See Ryan Mac for further reporting on this.)
Here's how Cox described the reasons for his departure, as Nick Thompson and Fred Vogelstein observed in Zagreb wire:
"As Mark pointed out, we turn a new product page, focusing on an encrypted, interoperable, messaging network. This is a product vision adapted to today's subject: a modern communication platform that balances expression, security, security and privacy. This will be a great project and we will need leaders who are excited to see a new direction. "
I wrote this on a plane from South by Southwest, where I interviewed former Facebook security chief Alexa Stamos about planning to switch Facebook to private messages. Stamos said that, in his opinion, the Zuckerberg memorandum was a moment of burning boats – a symbolic point of no return aimed at gathering a company around a new existential imperative. Zuckerberg has more data than anyone else who can assess the health of News Feed and Instagram, said Stamos – and that is why we should understand the privacy pole as a signal that they have already reached their peak or soon.
Looking ahead, it's hard not to be sympathetic to Cox's decision to leave. In a farewell address, Zuckerberg said Cox hoped to leave "a few years ago," but then it came about as a result of the 2016 election, which made it unproductive. (No Chief Executive Officer wants to be seen running through the door during the worst crisis in the company's history.) Cox has overseen the creation of one of the most successful technology products in history, from the point of view of growth and revenue, and who can blame it for being excited to try all again?
At the same time, the move is probably bad for morale. Cox has long been among the most popular business executives, as a long-time leader of new employee orientation and vocal fans for Facebook inside. (It looks good and is a movie star.) It seems fair to say that cultural computation with regard to social media captured (like me and many others) under guard – he gave far fewer interviews since 2016 than in the years before, when he was still always played conversations with people like me to launch products.
Cox may have been waiting for more than two years to write his farewell blog, but still remains unlucky for Facebook – as a new criminal investigation in New York due to the practice of data exchange, and one day after the longest time the memory stops, surely, it's never a good time to leave a job like this – but it could almost certainly be better one.
Zuckerberg said today that he would not name a replacement for Cox as the main producer. Instead, Javier Olivan, head of a department called "central product services," will assume the task of further homogenizing Facebook's family of applications, while their individual leaders will personally report to Zuckerberg.
Elsewhere in the company:
Chris Daniels is on WhatsApp, Daniels, who was previously run by Internet.org, has released several comments in several months by WhatsApp. On the one hand, the company continued to grow, especially in its core markets such as Brazil and India; on the other hand, it has prompted a nearly constant series of public relations crises, which was used to spread disinformation and hate speech around the world. Quite or not, Daniels has created a powerful enemy in the Indian government, and I imagine that Zuckerberg has some advantages in wiping the clean plate.
Will Cathcart takes Danielsa, Cathcart is a keen, thoughtful leader who has previously overseen News News. To understand what he thinks, check this long and productive conversation I had with him in 2016 about the role of Facebook in journalism. My only remarks with this move are optics. WhatsApp's leader is, among other things, a diplomat. I wonder if Zuckerberg would be better served by someone with credibility in India, Brazil, or some other top WhatsApp market. Which means: Not another white man from Menlo Park.
Fidji Simo takes over the Facebook application, Simo is a dynamic speaker, a good product mind – and still too rare in the top ranks of Facebook – women. is not splendidly to surrender to Big Blue in the moon that Zuckerberg calls yesterday's news. Last year he showed us this is the first place on Facebook's bench. Adam Mosseri, who had him until May last year, now runs Instagram; Cathcart, who had it until today, is now launching WhatsApp. So, expect the Sim's star to continue to grow.
The last two notes: one, when Facebook's history is written, marks March 14, 2019 as the end of the News Feed. Cox helped design the first Iterations of the News Feed and supervised it during his most successful phase. It will not disappear overnight, and on its tremendous scale can show endurance like Yahoo. But with Cox's departure, her days as the central organizational principle of Facebook are now officially behind him.
Two, multiple sources told me that Cox had a secret Twitter account and used it to keep track of Facebook comments while he was working. Now that he has come out of the company, with countless millions of investments and the rest of his career ahead of him, I hope Twitter account will get out of hiding.
Microsoft, Facebook, trust and privacy
Benedict Evans has a really good piece on Facebook at the headquarters of privacy, describing it as an attempt to address the most pressing issues of the platform by making some of the platform seem irrelevant. I agree with Evans: It is the most likely way that Facebook actually "solves" any problem that has been focussed since 2016.
Similar to moving from cloud to Chrome and Chrome, this can be seen as an attempt to remove the problem instead of patching it. Russians can not be viral in news feeds if there is no news. "Researchers" can not damage your data if Facebook does not have your data. You solve the problem by making it unimportant.
And finally …
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey praises, appears on the podcast of the anti-vaccine of fitness personality
At some point I will write Twitter's history as a season Veep which never ceases. Favorite episodes would include Twitter who accidentally suspended Jack Dorsey's account; Dorsey launched an international incident holding a sign he had handed in India; and launching another international incident by taking meditation retreat to a country where social networks have contributed to genocide.
Anyway, in this week's Twitter-as-VeepDorsey went to another podcast and … oops, podcaster is a worm against the vaccine! Now I would like to ask for a shot, Doctor … something that crashes me for the rest of the flight.
Talk to me
Send me your tips, comments, questions and your best recommendations for Chrisa Cox's next move: firstname.lastname@example.org.