Facebook's chief product officer reportedly had 'disagreements' with Mark Zuckerberg

Details as to why Facebook’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, is leaving the company are starting to emerge, with reports suggesting the Facebook veteran had disagreements with CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The New York Times reports that Cox had disagreements with Zuckerberg over Facebook’s future, citing six anonymous sources familiar with the situation.

Cox, 36, has been at Facebook for more than 13 years and he was once described as “Facebook’s most important executive not named Mark Zuckerberg.”

But Facebook recently announced that it plans to unify its disparate messaging platforms — Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger — into one single privacy-focused platform where all messages are encrypted.

It’s a big change for Facebook, which has traditionally encouraged users to post content of all kinds publicly. And the change hasn’t gone down well with Cox, according to the reports.

One source reportedly told BuzzFeed News that Cox left because he wasn’t happy with the company’s product direction. Another source said executives “scoffed” at Zuckerberg’s plans to encrypt communications on all of Facebook’s platforms because it would require major changes to Facebook’s business model.

Some executives were worried the services they run would suffer from a decline in popularity and growth, according to The New York Times. They were also concerned that they would have to sacrifice some “autonomy and power.”

Cox hinted that he wasn’t happy with Facebook’s plans on Thursday in a public post on Facebook. “As Mark has outlined, we are turning a new page in our product direction,” wrote Cox. “This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through.”

Facebook announced on Thursday that it is having a major reshuffle of its executive staff. Chris Daniels, the head of WhatsApp, is also leaving. Will Cathcart, the former head of Facebook’s core app, is moving over to WhatsApp to take on Daniels’ old role. And Fidji Simo is becoming the head of the Facebook app.

The role of chief product officer will not be filled by anyone. Instead, the heads of Facebook’s various apps – Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram – will now report directly to Zuckerberg, cementing the CEO’s hold over them as Facebook prepares to embark on an ambitious project to partially merge the apps.

“This is an important change as we begin the next chapter of our work building the privacy-focused social foundation for the future,” Zuckerberg wrote in a memo.

“I’m deeply grateful for everything Chris Cox and Chris Daniels have done here, and I’m looking forward to working with Will and Fidji in their new roles as well as everyone who will be critical to achieving this vision. We have so much important work ahead and I’m excited to continue working to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Additional reporting by Rob Price.

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