Facebook loses longtime product chief as it revamps strategy

By MICHAEL LIEDTKE and RACHEL LERMAN – Associated Press – Thursday, March 14, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – is losing its product chief , a top-ranking executive who spent more than a decade at the company, just a week after CEO announced a major new direction for the social network.

The departure, announced Thursday , follows ’s announcement that will shift its emphasis to private messaging over public sharing. The change reflects ’s changing audience and continued problems with serving as a conduit for misinformation and vitriol.

, 36, worked closely with through the company’s ups and downs, having joined up about 20 months after was hatched in 2004 in ’s Harvard dorm room.

“is a great guy who is someone who has always tried to do good,” said David Kirkpatrick, an author who became well acquainted with and while writing a book about . “My guess is there was some sort of disagreement. He would not be leaving at this challenging time if there wasn’t something else going on.”

Neither nor specified what led to their split.

“Most all my personal highs and lows of the last decade have been tied up in the journey of this company, with , and with so many of you,” wrote in a post. “This place will forever be a part of me.”

said first mentioned he might leave a few years ago, but decided to stay on after 2016 as evidence emerged that Russians had manipulated ’s services to provoke discord in the U.S. and influence the election won by President Donald Trump.

“I will always appreciate his deep empathy for the people using our services and the uplifting spirit he brings to everything he does,” said of in his parting note.

Like many other longtime executives, is unlikely to ever have to work again if he doesn’t want to. He pocketed $310 million in gains from exercising stock options from 2014 through 2017 alone, according to the company’s filings with securities regulators.

also announced another departure – Chris Daniels, who had been overseeing ’s encrypted messaging service WhatsApp. Daniels is leaving less than a year after WhatsApp founder Jan Koum resigned in an apparent dispute with over the future direction of the widely used messaging service.

isn’t hiring another executive to replace . Instead, the leaders of , WhatsApp and Instagram apps that oversaw will report to . Longtime executive Will Cathcart will take over Daniels’ job running WhatsApp.

wants to evolve ’s messaging apps into private forums where people can communicate without worrying about what they are sharing being seen and shared by others.

That effort will include introducing WhatsApp encryption technology to ’s Messenger app and Instagram’s messaging option. is also promising to make photos and posts automatically disappear from public view.

’s social network and Instagram photo app won’t change, and will remain available for sharing places, adventures and minutiae with a broader audience.

Forrester analyst Jessica Liu said it sounded like was “subtly disagreeing” with ’s privacy memo, based on ’s farewell post. “ is a massive and evolving company, so it’s only natural that in a company that large, not everyone will agree with every strategic change,” she said.

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