Cox and Zuckerberg appear to be divided over the company's new strategy announced last week that it would focus on privacy rather than connecting with the world at large. "As part of this, I'm sad to share the news that Chris Cox has made a decision to leave the company", he wrote.
Cox was a critical executive at Facebook, working there for more than a decade, helping design and run the news feed and then rising in the ranks to oversee all product at Facebook.
Will Cathcart was announced as the new lead on WhatsApp, while Zuckerberg, apparently consolidating power as he prepares to merge the apps in some way or another, states he does "not plan on immediately appointing anyone to fill Chris's role in the near term". A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows that Cox informed Facebook about his intended departure on March 11, just five days after Zuckerberg made his privacy plan public.
While Cox gave no specific reason for his move, he noted that Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has unveiled a new direction away from being the "digital town square" to focus on smaller-scale, private interactions. Daniels is leaving less than a year after WhatsApp founder Jan Koum resigned in an apparent dispute with Zuckerberg over the future direction of the widely used messaging service.
Zuckerberg's statement indicated that Cox had been looking to move on from Facebook for some time, but that he stayed on longer to meet some crucial company needs. Less than a year ago, he was put in charge of all of Facebook's apps, including its flagship social media site as well as Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.
Cox and Daniels are among a string of executives who've left Facebook since 2017.
Facebook's family of apps strategy has so far been led jointly by Cox and Javier Olivan, vice president of growth.
It also comes after an unprecedented global outage this week for Facebook and its other applications affecting millions of users, believed to be the worst ever for the network.
Forrester analyst Jessica Liu said it sounded like Cox was "subtly disagreeing" with Zuckerberg's privacy memo, based on Cox's farewell post. Longtime Facebook executive Will Cathcart will take over Daniels' job running WhatsApp.