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Facebook's News Feed era is now over



Last May, after a decade of uncommon stability in his executive ranks, Mark Zuckerberg announced a series of dramatic changes. He moved two top executives to create a new blockchain division and installed new leaders at WhatsApp and the News Feed. And for Chris Cox, the company's chief product officer and one of Zuckerberg's most trusted lieutenants, the move is a consolidation of power: Leaders

Zuckerberg, who has become known in the latter months for his epic-length blog posts, is uncharacteristically silent about the strategic thinking behind these moves. But at some point, another strategy began to percolate: the one to unveiled last week, which promised to shift to a future. And today, with that new ascendant strategy, Zuckerberg announces another series of dramatic changes. Chris Cox is leaving the company after more than a decade. And the shift in direction appears to be a big reason. (See Ryan Mac for some further reporting on this.)

Here's how Cox described the reasons for his departure, as noted by Nick Thompson and Fred Vogelstein in Wired :

"As Mark has outlined We're turning a new page into our product direction, focused on an encrypted, interoperable, messaging network. It is a product vision attuned to the subject matter of today: a modern communications platform that expresses, safety, security, and privacy.

I wrote this on a plane back from South by Southwest, where I interviewed Facebook's former chief security officer, Alex Stamos, about Facebook's planned shift to private messaging. (Podcast forthcoming!) Stamos said that in his view, Zuckerberg's memo was a burn the boat moment ̵

1; a symbolic point of no return intended to rally the company around a new existential imperative. Zuckerberg has said: "What's the point of view?" (1965) Looking at the road ahead, it's hard to be sympathetic to Cox's decision to leave. In a farewell post, Zuckerberg said Cox had hoped to leave "a few years ago," but then the aftermath of the 2016 election came along and made that infeasible. Cox oversaw the creation of one of the most successful tech products in history, from a growth and revenue standpoint, and who can blame him for not

At the same time, the move is likely to be bad for morale. Cox has been among the most popular executives in the company, as a longtime leader of new employee orientations and vocal cheerleaders for Facebook internally. (The movie-star good looks help, too.) It has been said that it has not been used in the past few years

Cox may have waited more than two years to write his farewell blog post, but he still leaves at awkward time for Facebook – as a new criminal investigation swirls in New York over data sharing practices, and a day after the longest outage in memory. Sure, there's a job like this better one.

Zuckerberg said today that he will not stop working for Cox as chief product officer. Instead, Javier Olivan, who ran a division called "Central Product Services," wants to take on the task of further homogenizing Facebook's family of apps.

Elsewhere in the company:

Chris Daniels is out at WhatsApp . Daniels, who ran Internet.org, made a few public remarks in the 10 months he ran WhatsApp. On one hand, the company continued to grow, especially in its core market like Brazil and India; on the other hand, it triggers a near-constant series of public relations crises, it is used to spread misinformation and hate speech around the world. Sugarberg sees some upside in wiping the slate clean again.

Will Cathcart is taking over for Daniels . Cathcart is a sharp, thoughtful leader who previously oversaw the news feed. About Facebook's role in journalism. To get a sense of how he thinks, you check out this long, productive chat. My only quibble with this move is the optics. The leader of Whatsapp is, among other things, a diplomat. I wonder if Sugarberg would not be better served by anyone with credibility in India, Brazil, or any other WhatsApp market. Which is to say: not another white guy from Menlo Park.

Fidji Simo is taking over the Facebook app . Simo is a dynamic speaker, a good product mind, and – still way too rare on Facebook's top ranks – a woman. It's not great that she's handed the reins to Big Blue the month that Zuckerberg designates it as yesterday's news feed. But the past year has shown that this is the top spot on Facebook's bench. Adam Mosseri, who had it until last May, now runs Instagram; Cathcart, WhatsApp. So expect Simo's star to keep rising.

Two final notes: one, when the history of Facebook is written down on March 14th, 2019 as the end of the news feed era. Cox helped design the first iterations of the news Feed and oversaw it during its most successful phase. It will not disappear overnight, and at its enormous scale may showcase a Yahoo-like endurance. But with Cox's departure, its days as the central organizing principle of Facebook are now officially behind it.

Two, multiple sources have told me that Cox has a secret worked. Twitter account wants to come out of hiding.

Takes

Microsoft, Facebook, Trust and Privacy

19659018] Benedict Evans has become irrelevant on Facebook's pivot to privacy in this regard. I agree with Evans: This is the most likely way that Facebook has actually "solves" any of the issues it has focused on since 2016.

Like Moving from Windows to cloud and ChromeOS, you could see this as an attempt to remove the problem rather than patch it. Russians can not go viral in your news feed if there is no news feed. 'Researchers' can not scrape your data if Facebook does not have your data. You solve the problem by making it irrelevant.

And finally …

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey praises, appearing on podcast of anti-vaccine fitness personality

At some point I am writing on the history of Twitter as a season of Veep that never ends. Favorite episodes would include Twitter accidentally suspending Jack Dorsey's account; Dorsey triggering an international incident

Anyway, in this week's episode of Twitter-as- Veep Dorsey went on yet another freaking podcast and … oops, the podcaster is an anti-vaccine nut!

Talk to me

Chris Cox's next.

Send me tips, comments, questions and your best recommendations for Chris Cox's next move: casey@theverge.com.


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