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Chris Cox crosses paths with Mark Zuckerberg at a Facebook staff meeting. Photo: Facebook

As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sets out on an ambitious but challenging effort to remake the social network, he will be doing so without 2 of the company's seasoned veterans.

Driving the news: Facebook announced the exit of product chief Chris Cox and WhatsApp head Chris Daniels on Thursday.

  • Cox, one of Facebook's earliest hires, who was instrumental in the development of the News Feed, was widely viewed as the company's number 3 executive after Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Why it matters: The departures come as Zuckerberg looks to shift focus away from the News Feed and toward private, personal communications that work across Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Between the lines: It was apparently not a direction that sat well with Cox, who said in a public post about his exit:

"As Mark has outlined, we are turning a new page in our product direction, focused on an encrypted, interoperable, messaging network. ... This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through."
Chris Cox

What we're hearing: According to NYT's Mike Isaac, both executives had issues with Zuckerberg's move.

  • While Daniels' exit had apparently been planned for some time, the departures were announced as the company grapples with other challenges on the technical and legal fronts.
  • Facebook spent Thursday trying to recover from an hours-long outage, the worst disruption in the company's history. Facebook said a glitch with a server configuration led to the unexpected downtime.
  • And the NYT reported on Wednesday that the company is under criminal investigation for its data-sharing deals with other tech companies.

The bottom line: Facebook's plate of troubles continues to overflow. Or, as my former co-worker Kara Swisher wrote in her column, "I think we can safely say that only Aunt Becky from 'Full House' — that would be Lori Loughlin, captain of the college admissions bad parenting squad — is having a worse time this week."

Separately, Instagram communications head Kristina Schake is also leaving Facebook. She is filling in as Michelle Obama's communications director while the former First Lady continues her book tour. (The person who normally does that job, Caroline Adler Morales, is on maternity leave.)

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

The bomb cyclone and atmospheric river seen via satellite on Sunday. The center of the storm is at the middle of the comma shape, due west of Washington State. (CIRA/RAMMB)

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

Mike Allen, author of AM
5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (left) and Sen. Joe Manchin at the U.S. Capitol in 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.