Chris Cox helped invent News Feed and devised Facebook’s “Social By Design” strategy, so now the company is recognizing his critical contributions by promoting the VP Of Product to Chief Product Officer. The new title won’t come with any organizational change, but cements the 31-year-old Cox as a leader of Facebook alongside COO Sheryl Sandberg. Mark Zuckerberg delivered the news to the company in an internal announcement this afternoon.
Cox has been part of the special “M-team” that regularly meets with Zuckerberg to define the direction of Facebook. He stood right behind his CEO and close friend when Zuck rung the NASDAQ bell the day of Facebook’s IPO.
Externally, Cox is widely remembered for his heartfelt on-stage demo of Timeline at Facebook’s f8 conference in 2011. You can watch a clip of that presentation here to get a feel for Cox’s emotive way of thinking about software. Just skip forward to 1:33:27.
I’ve seen Cox give several presentations with a big smile and patient tone at Facebook over the years, and I’m not alone in thinking he’s the company’s best voice. f8 this year felt the noticeable absence of his ability to show the sentimental side of even the most mechanical update to Facebook’s product.
He once recounted a mishap from the early days of News Feed, back when he and Boz would tweak its algorithm by hand. “There were funny moments like when feeds were flooded with basketballs when we did an integration with ESPN for March Madness,” Cox chuckled. He still works closely with the News Feed team as it tries to balance stories from all the people and Pages we’re connected to.
Regarding Cox’s new role, a Facebook spokesperson gave this statement: “Chris Cox’s elevation to Chief Product Officer is a reflection of the major role he plays in overseeing the products and features at Facebook. Chris has been instrumental in shaping the evolution of people’s experience using Facebook, our culture and our company, and he’ll continue to do the same as CPO.”
While he’s now an even more highly ranked executive, Cox is anything but square. He dropped out of Stanford to work at Facebook in 2005, and is a remarkably talented keyboardist in a reggae band.
Facebook Director Of Engineer Mark Slee once said in an interview: “One of Chris’ biggest skills is emotional intelligence. He’s just one of those rare people from an engineering background who excels at that.”
Cox has kept Facebook feeling human even as it scales to provide an online home for billions of people’s identities.
Facebook’s bio for Cox now reads:
Chris leads Facebook’s Product Management, Design, and Marketing functions globally. He is responsible for the core products and features that shape the social experience for the over 1.2 billion people who use Facebook every month. Chris joined Facebook in 2005 as a software engineer and helped build the first versions of key Facebook features, including News Feed. He then became director of human resources, where he set the tone for Facebook’s culture and drove the development of its mission, values and people strategy. Chris holds a bachelor’s degree in symbolic systems with a concentration in artificial intelligence from Stanford University.