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Facebook product chief Cox to leave as the focus shifts to messaging

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc. ‘s chief product officer and one of the first employees, Chris Cox, said on Thursday he is leaving the company just days after Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg revealed a plan to run with the world’s largest social network of an encryption-messages-oriented company.

FILE PHOTO: Chris Cox, Chief Product Officer of Facebook, speaks during the Wall Street Journal Digital Live ( WSJDLive ) conference at the Montage hotel in Laguna Beach, California, October 20, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Cox, one of Zuckerberg’s closest lieutenants, and the head of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp products, said in a blog he made the announcement “with great sadness” and was abandoned after 13 years with the company.

“As Mark has outlined, we are turning a new page on our product direction, focusing on an encrypted, interoperable, messaging network…This is a big project and we need leaders who are enthusiastic for the new direction,” Cox said in a Facebook post.

The shares of Facebook fell 1.7 percent in extended trading after the announcement.

Also leave WhatsApp is Vice-President Chris Daniels, Zuckerberg said in a note here for the employees.

The company is not immediately plan to fill Cox’s role in the short term, the chief executive said.

Facebook is a family of apps strategy has until now led jointly by Cox and Javier Olivan, vice-president of the growth.

Zuckerberg said on Thursday Olivan will now lead the to identify which Facebook apps should be more integrated, a major effort if the company is going to encrypt all the conversations on more of the messaging services and make them compatible.

Cox gained control of WhatsApp and Instagram following outputs of their founders.

In September, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger resigned as chief executive officer and the chief technical officer of the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook.

Jan Koum, the co-founder of WhatsApp, left in April last year.

Will Cathcart, vice president of product management, will now lead WhatsApp, and the Head of Video, Games and generating Revenue by Fidji Simo is the new head of the Facebook app, Zuckerberg said. Both Cathcart and Simo will report directly to the CEO.

Reporting by Tamara Mathias and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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