Facebook's 'family' is getting smaller, as several executives head for the exits in a turbulent year

  • At least seven senior Facebook executives have announced their departures this year.
  • None are leaving on bad terms, a company spokesperson told CNBC, and some will remain on in advisory positions.
  • It's a major shake-up for a company that prides itself on keeping executives around — and that's pretty consistently been answering to scandal and public scrutiny in recent months.
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook, Dan Rose, vice president, partnerships at Facebook, and Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, attend the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 12, 2018 in Sun Valley, Idaho. 
Drew Angerer | Getty Images
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook, Dan Rose, vice president, partnerships at Facebook, and Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, attend the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 12, 2018 in Sun Valley, Idaho. 

Facebook executives have long called the company's top ranks a "family," but after a series of high-profile exits, the family is about to get a lot of new faces.

At least seven senior Facebook executives have announced their departures this year. None are leaving on bad terms, a company spokesperson told CNBC, and some will remain on in advisory positions.

The company is looking at the planned exits in part as an opportunity to improve diversity among leadership, the spokesperson said.

It's not entirely shocking — on-lookers have often speculated that Facebook's many "could-be-CEOs" would eventually move on.

Still, it's a major shake-up for a company that prides itself on keeping executives around — and that's pretty consistently been answering to scandal and public scrutiny in recent months.

Here are all the executives who have said they're leaving Facebook so far in 2018:

Jan Koum, co-founder of Facebook-owned WhatsApp, announced his exit in April in a Facebook post saying it was time to "move on."

"I've been blessed to work with such an incredibly small team," Koum said in a statement at the time. "The team is stronger than ever and it'll continue to do amazing things. I'm taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology, such as collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on my cars and playing ultimate frisbee."

Koum led WhatsApp for nearly a decade and joined Facebook's leadership team in 2014 when the social media giant bought WhatsApp for $19 billion.

Elliot Schrage, head of communications and public policy, said in June he was leaving Facebook after more than 10 years.

"I've decided it's time to start a new chapter in my life," Schrage said in a post to his Facebook page. "Leading policy and communications for hyper growth technology companies is a joy — but it's also intense and leaves little room for much else."

Schrage didn't address his next steps, but did include lengthy praise and words of gratitude for Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg.

In July, Colin Stretch, Facebook's top lawyer, announced he'd be leaving the company after more than eight years.

"When my wife Alyse and I made the decision a few years ago to move back to DC from California, we knew it would be difficult for me to remain in this role indefinitely," he said in a Facebook post. "As Facebook embraces the broader responsibility Mark has discussed in recent months, I've concluded that the company and the Legal team need sustained leadership in Menlo Park."

As general counsel, Stretch represented Facebook before Congress to address Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

"I often stop myself and ask how I got so lucky to be a part of this," Stretch said in the post announcing his exit.

Alex Stamos, formerly chief security officer at Facebook, formally stepped down in August following earlier rumors of his departure and an internal memo to staff.

In the memo — reported by Buzzfeed news — Stamos said a re-organization of his team left him eyeing a transition:

I initiated the discussion of changing the structure of the InfoSec team just before Thanksgiving 2017. This was due to my concerns that organizational issues impaired our election security work in 2016. While the outcome of this discussion was not one I proposed, at the time I committed myself to making the transition as smooth as possible and trying to set the new teams up for success. I am genuinely proud of the capable, diverse security teams we have built and I truly want my colleagues to continue to be successful in their vital work.

The re-org, did, however, leave me with a challenge, in that it created a big mismatch between the responsibilities I felt carrying the Chief Security Officer title and the potential for big impact I could have from my redefined role. This conundrum was pretty obvious to many, and when people internally asked if I was leaving I rather openly told them that I was committed to staying through August.

Stamos had been at Facebook since 2015. He's now teaching at Stanford University.

"For the last three years, I have been proud to work with some of the most skilled and dedicated security professionals in the world in one of the most difficult threat environments faced by any technology company," Stamos said in a Facebook post confirming his departure.

Also in August, Dan Rose, one of Facebook's earliest executives and VP of partnerships, said he was leaving. Rose joined Facebook in 2006, and is leaving to join his family in Hawaii.

"Over the past 12 years, this company has become my second family. When people ask me why I'm still at Facebook after so long, my answer is always simple — I love the people I work with and I believe deeply in our mission," Rose said in a Facebook post.

"Mark and Sheryl changed my life and my career. I would walk through fire for them, or fly across the ocean on a regular basis. But they deserve someone in my role who is present and fully engaged every day in the many opportunities and challenges that lie ahead," he said.

Earlier this week, Netflix announced it had poached Rachel Whetstone, a top communications executive at Facebook.

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Whetstone had only been at the company for a year. She is the only executive on this list not to comment on her exit on her personal Facebook account. She follows her boss, Schrage, in leaving.

That brings us to Wednesday, when Alex Hardiman, head of news products, announced her departure. Hardiman had been at Facebook for what she called "two deeply gratifying years," and will join The Atlantic.

"I've always been a news person. It's my passion during the workday and my guilty pleasure on nights and weekends," Hardiman said on her Facebook page. "It's why I spent a decade at The Times before coming to Facebook to help tackle some of the company's formidable news challenges, and it's why I'm now joining The Atlantic at a unique moment in its history."

"Facebook has given me so many things for which I'm profoundly grateful: wildly talented colleagues, great relationships with news organizations that are reinventing their future, and deep humility for the difficulty of solving nuanced problems at Facebook's scale," she said.