Facebook instituted its biggest executive shakeup in its 15-year history this week, appointing new leaders for WhatsApp, Messenger and Facebook’s core app while giving other longtime Facebook executives new responsibilities, including a new effort to tackle blockchain technology.
The moves, which were announced internally to employees today, are meant to improve executive communication and user privacy, but the changes also come as Facebook contends with the backlash from the U.S. presidential election, revelations of manipulation by the Russian government and the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reorganized the social giant’s product and engineering organizations into three main divisions, including a new “Family of apps” group run by Chief Product Officer Chris Cox, the executive previously in charge of the core Facebook app. Cox will now oversee Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, according to multiple sources, four social apps with a combined reach of more than five billion monthly users.
Facebook is also building a new team dedicated to blockchain technology. David Marcus, the executive in charge of Facebook’s standalone messaging app, Messenger, is leaving that post to run the blockchain group, these sources said. That new team will fall under one of the other three divisions, referred to as “New platforms and infra,” which will be managed by CTO Mike Schroepfer. Facebook’s AR, VR and artificial intelligence efforts will also live under Schroepfer’s division.
Longtime Facebook exec Javier Olivan, the company’s VP of growth, will oversee the third division, called “Central product services,” which includes all of the shared features that operate across multiple products or apps such as ads, security and growth.
Surprisingly, no one appears to be leaving Facebook. Just a lot of old faces in new places.
You may have noticed from the diagram that almost all of Facebook’s top product and engineering execs are men. That’s true, though Facebook does have a number of high ranking and influential female product executives that aren’t directly involved in these changes. For example: Fidji Simo, who runs video; Deb Liu, who runs Marketplace; and Julie Zhuo, who runs design. Then, of course, there’s Sheryl Sandberg on the business side of things.
The changes all come at an interesting time for Facebook and Zuckerberg, who has been openly discussing his need to take more responsibility for Facebook’s impact on the world. Zuckerberg’s New Year’s resolution was to fix Facebook, and restructuring the team is clearly part of that fix. The hope is that these new roles will keep more open lines of communication among executives without hurting the speed Facebook is known for. (“Move fast and break things,” remember?)
The new product and engineering orgs have been divided into three key groups.
1. The Family of Apps
This is the group Cox will oversee, which includes WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram and the core Facebook app. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom will continue to run Instagram, but the other three apps are getting new leaders:
- Chris Daniels, the VP of Facebook’s Internet.org group, is taking over WhatsApp following the departure of CEO Jan Koum last week. Daniels has been with Facebook since 2011, and has lots of experience building products for an international audience in areas where wifi and infrastructure are weak.
- David Marcus, the head of Facebook’s standalone messaging app, Messenger, is leaving that role but staying at the company. He’s moving over to run a new team exploring blockchain technology. Stan Chudnovsky, the head of product at Messenger, is taking over the Messenger app and team.
- Will Cathcart, one of Cox’s top product lieutenants, is taking over all of product for Facebook’s core app. Cathcart has been at Facebook since 2008, joining from Google, and was responsible for Facebook’s profiles team. (That includes the group working on Facebook’s new dating service.)
Having all four product leaders roll up to Cox is meant to improve communication among the products. Previously, the leaders of all of these teams had different bosses. Koum rolled up to Zuckerberg, Systrom rolled up to Schroepfer and Marcus reported to Olivan. As Facebook increasingly builds more features that live inside all of the apps (e.g. Stories), it makes sense to have their leaders working closer together.
2. New Platforms and Infra
This group will be under the direction of Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s CTO. As you can probably guess from the name, this group will incorporate all of Facebook’s longterm product and business efforts, like virtual reality, augmented reality and the newly formed blockchain group.
- Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, who runs Facebook’s AR, VR and hardware teams, will continue to report to Schroepfer. Boz took over those teams last August following years running Facebook’s advertising efforts.
- David Marcus will report to Schroepfer in his new role running Facebook’s exploratory blockchain group. The company isn’t saying anything about the team, but Marcus is on the board of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, so there is a clear interest in the technology there. (He had also previously worked at PayPal and had founded a mobile payments startup.)
- Jay Parikh, Facebook’s top engineering executive, will oversee a new product team focused on privacy products and initiatives (more on that below).
- Workplace, Facebook’s enterprise product aimed at competing with Slack, will fall under Schroepfer’s purview. That team is run by Kang-Xing Jin, known internally as KX, and one of Facebook’s longest-tenured product executives. He actually was a classmate of Zuckerberg’s at Harvard.
- Jerome Pesenti, who leads Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence group, will also report to Schroepfer. Pesenti just joined Facebook this year from IBM, where he worked on “Watson” technology.
3. Central Product Services
All of the other product and engineering functions — ads, security, growth — will fall to another longtime Facebooker, Javier Olivan, who has been with the company more than a decade. Olivan has run Facebook’s growth team for years and is credited for helping Facebook achieve the massive scale it’s now known for. Olivan will also oversee a lot of important parts of the Facebook business.
- Mark Rabkin, who oversees ads and Facebook’s local efforts, will report to Olivan.
- Naomi Gleit, who has been at Facebook since mid-2005 (even longer than Cox), runs community growth and integrity as well as Facebook’s social good products, like the donate button. She’s also the leader of product management for the entire company.
- Alex Schultz, who has been at Facebook since 2007 and runs “growth marketing, data analytics (data science & data engineering) and internationalization for Facebook,” according to his LinkedIn, also reports to Javi.
Here are a few more changes taking place at Facebook this week.
Instagram and Facebook are swapping key product executives
Adam Mosseri, the Facebook product executive who runs News Feed, is headed over to Instagram to become the company’s new VP of product. In his old job, Mosseri was tasked with building and then explaining Facebook’s ever-changing News Feed algorithm to journalists and media companies, and he became a savvy Twitter user in the process. The company didn’t share specifics about his new role, but it seems fair to assume his experience running one feed at Facebook will help running another feed at Instagram.
You might now be thinking: What about Instagram’s existing VP of product, Kevin Weil? Good question. Weil is leaving Instagram and headed over to Facebook’s newly formed blockchain team, the one that David Marcus is running. So a few new places for a couple of familiar faces.
A change to Facebook’s communication team
Facebook is shuffling the top of its communication team, too. Caryn Marooney, who has been running the day-to-day operations for all Facebook communications over the past two years, is handing over some of her responsibilities to PR veteran Rachel Whetstone, who joined Facebook last summer. Marooney will handle product communications and Whetstone is taking over corporate comms.
Whetstone is very well known in Silicon Valley. She joined Facebook after running communications and policy at Uber during the company’s Travis Kalanick-inflicted PR nightmare. Before that, she worked at Google for 10 years also running communications and policy. She’s climbed up Facebook’s internal ranks very quickly and is already an influential voice in the room when it comes to policy decisions, sources say.