Cox has been with Facebook for more than a decade and currently oversees the company’s core suite of apps. The heads of all of Facebook’s most important teams — Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Facebook itself — all report to him. He’d been floated as the next CEO, should Zuckerberg ever step away. Last year, Recode called him “Facebook’s most important executive not named Mark Zuckerberg.”
Daniels took over WhatsApp last May after WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum left. Prior to that, he’d been running Facebook’s internet.org initiative, which was meant to bring internet regions of the world currently without connectivity. Under his leadership, WhatsApp added forwarding limits to decrease the spread of misinformation. It also announced plans to being showing advertisements, despite being founded on a promise of never showing ads.
Zuckerberg didn’t note in his blog post announcing the departures why either executive is leaving. Cox published a note of his own that suggests that he may not have been happy with the new direction Zuckerberg wanted to take Facebook in. “This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through,” Cox writes.
WhatsApp will now be led by Will Cathcart, who is currently in charge of the Facebook app. The Facebook app will now be run by Fidji Simo, who currently leads video.