Media Moves

Coverage: Facebook makes its biggest executive shakeup

May 9, 2018

Posted by Chris Roush

FacebookFacebook instituted its biggest executive shakeup in its 15-year history this week, appointing new leaders for WhatsAppMessenger and Facebook’s core app while giving other longtime Facebook executives new responsibilities.

Kurt Wagner of Recode had the news:

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.

Sheera Frenkel of The New York Times reported that the top two executive positions remain unchanged:

The roles of the company’s top two leaders — Mr. Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer — remain unchanged. Ms. Sandberg’s business teams are unaffected by the restructuring.

The social network also said it was appointing Jeffrey Zients, a former director of the National Economic Council under former President Barack Obama, as a new board member.

Facebook’s changes echo some of the moves that Google announced in 2015, when it said it was dividing its core online advertising business from the rest of its businesses and created a holding company structure with the parent name of Alphabet. The change was part of an effort to keep Google nimble and innovative.

But Facebook’s reorganization has been complicated by the public outcry against the company. The company has been under scrutiny for the spread of misinformation through its site and how it was used by Russian agentsduring the 2016 presidential election to influence American voters. In March, The New York Times and The Observer of London reported that a political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, had also misused the information of millions of Facebook users.

Seung Lee of The San Jose Mercury News reported that there’s also a new board member:

Jeff Zients, the CEO of the multinational holding company Cranemere, will join Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, venture capitalists Peter Thiel and Marc Andreessen and four others on Facebook’s board effective May 31, the day of Facebook’s shareholder meeting, the company announced Tuesday.

Koum, whose company WhatsApp was purchased by Facebook for $16 billion in 2014, said earlier this month that he would not stand for re-election. He also departed Facebook, leaving nearly $1 billion in unvested stock on the table.

“I am proud to join the Facebook Board and I look forward to working with Mark and the other directors as the company builds for the future,” said Zients in a statement. “This is an exciting time for the company, and I am delighted to be part of the Board as the company works to face the opportunities and challenges of trying to bring the world closer together.”

Zuckerberg welcomed Zients to the board on his Facebook page, saying Zients is a “rare expert in both business and public policy.”

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