social network

In Facebook, for the first time, large-scale personnel reshuffles took place. The main development of applications was the “successor to Zuckerberg”

We study the career path of an old friend Zuckerberg, who actually took responsibility for the development of the company during the crisis.

Chris Cox. Facebook Photos

May 8, 2018 in the leadership of Facebook were the largest personnel reshuffles in the history of the company. Changes have affected the management of all products of the company, and some of the managers have received new responsibilities related to the blockbuster. The main event of personnel changes was the appointment of an old friend and associate of Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Cox, the head of development of the company’s main products: Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. Previously, he was engaged only in the development of Facebook.

After Cox’s appointment, the media called him “the next Zuckerberg”, hinting that the founder of Facebook could soon switch to other tasks. Permutations within the company occurred against the background of the scandal surrounding Cambridge Analytica – the leakage of data of millions of Facebook users forced Zuckerberg to distract from his direct responsibilities, protecting the company’s reputation in front of the US government and the public.

Long service, algorithmic tape and emoji – what Chris Cox did before the new appointment

In December 2017 Mark Zuckerberg, along with his wife Priscilla Chan, was just about to leave Hawaii after a family trip, when the paparazzi captured him in the company of a man. Daily Mail journalists did not pay attention to him, indicating the stranger as a “male friend”. This man was 35-year-old Chris Cox – he is far from known as Zuckerberg or COO Cheryl Sandberg, but played a significant role in the development of Facebook products. The exact number of Facebook shares at the disposal of Cox is unknown, but in 2017 he sold them for almost $ 60 million. For comparison – Mark Zuckerberg for the same time sold shares for 942 million dollars.

Cox joined the Zuckerberg team in November 2005, leaving his studies at Stanford University. He started as a software engineer and worked on key Facebook ideas, including a news algorithmic tape. At that time , three peoplefrom 50 company employees answered for its creation . The appearance of the news tape made it possible to monitor the activity of friends from one place, rather than go to their pages, but the team faced a lack of understanding of the users of the new function. Basically, because no one explained to them how the innovation works.

Zuckerberg and Cox, along with two Facebook employees, will present an updated news line on Facebook, 2013. AllThingsD photo

Together with Zuckerberg and two other authors of the algorithmic tape, Cox survived a wave of user criticism and after a while managed to debug the function that has become an integral part of the social network. Four years later, he was appointed director of the human resources department, and in 2014 he was appointed director of product for Facebook. In parallel, he continued to be responsible for the selection of personnel and attend almost all meetings of Facebook employees. He took the habit of every Monday at 9:00 to welcome the company’s newcomers with a solemn speech and talk about the tasks of the firm.

“Many of my close friends are here [in Facebook]. This is a big part of my life. I was lucky to be brought here in 2005. I was fortuitously lucky to get to the right place at the right time, ” said Cox. When he joined the company, he quickly became friends with Zuckerberg and remains one of his closest friends: their houses in Palo Alto are located in the neighborhood, and their wives regularly communicate.

In 2015, Cox ordered most of the Facebook development team to move from the iPhone to Android. He explained this with practical considerations, since the vast majority of the social network audience uses this platform, and the transition to it will help to find errors faster. Such decisions revealed the nature of the top manager, who always spoke about the need to find as many points of contact with users as possible.

At the internal meetings of the team, Cox often sat next to Zuckerberg and explained to him how the audience would react to this or that function.

Cox’s reputation went through a major failure of Facebook Paper, which was conceived as a convenient mobile service for reading magazines or news. It was Cox who was one of the initiators of the program and was engaged in it after the launch in 2014. Despite the pleasant and convenient interface, Facebook Paper did not manage to gain a large audience – in the summer of 2016, the application support was suspended .

The head of Facebook often publicly called Cox the closest friend and “one of those who makes Facebook a special place.” In addition, Zuckerberg praised Cox’s mind and his ability to feel the emotions of other people. This quality the top manager brightly showed on the post of the head of the HR department, becoming a kind of psychotherapist for employees. At the same time, Cox got carried away with philosophy and thought about the company’s main mission.

When in 2015 Cox came to Zuckerberg with the idea to remake the key feature of Facebook, the button of the husky, the head of the company gave good and wished the friend good luck. The top manager wanted to rethink one of the main mechanics of the application, making it “more humane”, but at the same time avoiding the button dislayka to not multiply the negative in social networks.

Team Chris Cox during the development of emoto-reactions, from left to right: Julie Zhu, Adam Mossery, Fiji Simo and Will Catcat. Facebook Photos

As follows from the great article by Bloomberg about the work of Cox’s team on emoto-reactions, he considered this task for his personal goal. When in 2012 he appeared with Zuckerberg and Sandberg before investors, his pathos rhetoric differed from the words of his colleagues: “Right now, for one generation, we completely change the structure of communication of all mankind.”

Within the walls of the company, top managers are accustomed to calling “empathy”, joking about how often he uses this word at internal events. With him on Facebook, the idea of ​​a selective lock of photos, which captured the ex-girlfriend or boyfriend of the user, so that he easily survived the separation.

Cox tried to extend such individual functions to the news tape: according to his idea, it should become individual, offering everyone only what is interesting to him. To debug this mechanism, the top manager ordered the Facebook team to communicate regularly with active users of the social network, which leave feedback.

As Cox admitted, the main test of emotion reaction was the Paris terrorist attacks in November 2015. Then the users of the tested countries had new options for expressing their feelings, which they used. “That day I saw another Facebook,” says the top manager.

What will Cox do in his new post

It seems that with the new appointment before Cox is the most ambitious goal in his entire career in Facebook. If previously it was responsible for the development of Facebook, now it will be added Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger – in total, these applications bring the company up to 40 billion dollars annually.

Key engineers, designers and top-managers of Facebook celebrate Zuckerberg’s birthday, May 14, 2017. Many of them received new positions or tasks in connection with the reshuffle of 2018. Photos from Zuckerberg’s Facebook page

The group of products for the development of which Cox was assigned to respond is called the “Application Family”. The top manager himself refuses to disclose the details of his new position, but it is obvious that he will have to interact directly with the managers of each of the four products. All of them, with the exception of Instagram head Kevin Systrom , who will continue to perform their duties, have changed after the reshuffle.

  • Vice President is part of the Facebook social organization orgChris Daniels WhatsApp will be engaged in the development against the backdrop of the careco-founder Jan Kuma applications because of disagreements with management. Daniels came to Facebook in 2011 and developed ways to work the company’s applications in countries with low Internet penetration;
  • The head of the Messenger application David Marcus (former PayPal president) leaves his position to work on blocking technologies in the secret department of Facebook. His responsibilities and team will be taken over by Messenger Development Director Stan Chudnovsky (Stan Chudnovsky);
  • Direct development of Facebook will be one of Cox’s main assistants, Will Cathcart. In 2008, he switched to Facebook from Google as an engineer for social networking and participated in the development of a new deyting application, the launch of which was announcedon May 1, 2018.

The peculiarity of the May permutations is that now the managers of the products will report only to Cox, whereas previously each department was assigned a separate top manager. As Recode notes , the change can rally the leaders around Cox, known for his ability to establish contact with almost every employee, and help Facebook survive the recent wave of scandals.

Who else touched the permutation

Technical Director Mike Schrepfer (who works in Facebook since 2013) will become the head of the team for the development of long-term projects with elements of virtual reality, augmented reality and block-technologies. For the success of the last department, David Marcus will report to Schrepfer.

David Marcus. Getty Photos

Marcus and his team of just under 10 people (the figure may increase in the future) will have to find a way to integrate the block into Facebook products. In this department will help two experienced Instagram engineers, writes Recode. The news about Marcus’s transition to a new position appeared just a few days before the rumors that Facebook plans to launch its own crypto currency for domestic payments in the social network.

The issues of security, advertising and audience growth inside the products of Facebook will be Javier Olivan (Javier Olivan), who has been working for the company since 2011. Prior to that, he was engaged in the growth of the user base of Facebook – with it the audience of the social network increased from about 840 million in 2011 to more than 2 billion in 2018.

Will the role of Zuckerberg change – an open question

May reshuffles are the most massive personnel changes in Facebook since the company was founded 15 years ago, which happened against the backdrop of a scandal with Cambridge Analytica. The company collected from 50 to 80 million user data, bypassing Facebook’s rules and applied them in the election campaign of Donald Trump. The media claimed that Facebook knew about the leak and hid it for several years. The situation could not but lead to political consequences: in the end, instead of working in the company, Zuckerberg had to distribute dozens of interviews and twice to speak in the US Congress to defend Facebook’s reputation.

It is difficult to say whether he succeeded in this, because the leak investigation continues. The Internet launched a spontaneous campaign with the call to delete Facebook, which was supported by the co-founder of WhatsApp Jan Kum and the head of SpaceX Elon Musk . A week after the news about the leak of data, Facebook lost more than $ 50 billion in company value due to the fall in the share price, and the total loss reached 134 billion dollars. May 10, the company’s shares recovered , and Facebook returned the lost.

Supporters of the version that in 2020 Zuckerberg plans to run for presidency can also connect with this the new appointment of Cox and the possible departure of the head of Facebook in the direction of the company’s ambassador, rather than its chief engineer. However, this is no more than a theory based on speculation.

At a press conference, Zuckerberg admitted a mistake in the data leak, but said he was not going to leave the company or fire someone because of a scandal. “I founded it [Facebook], I manage it, I’m responsible for what is happening here,” the head of the company said. Nevertheless, against the background of the first large-scale rearrangements for more than ten years of Facebook’s existence, the media saw in Chris Cox “the next Zuckerberg” and “the most important employee of the company, whose name is not Zuckerberg .” As Wired writes , in this new position, Cox will finally appear in front of the public as the actual leader who has long been considered within the company.

The scandal with Cambridge Analytica made it clear that Zuckerberg will have to devote much more time to political issues, because now the monitoring of his company will increase both from the authorities and from the public.

In January 2018, in the framework of his annual tradition of challenging himself, Zuckerberg promised to “fix Facebook.” And who, if not the founder of the company, should act as its chief defender at public hearings while his closest associates are working on new projects, Recode notes . Cox supports the idea of ​​”fixing social networks,” but reveals the details of this plan in no more detail than his old friend: “I just think it’s an important job. That’s all”.


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