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Chris Cox, the Other Face of Facebook, to Address The Atlantic Meets the Pacific

LA JOLLA, Calif., July 19, 2011 — As the brains behind Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, the company's founder and CEO, can be a polarizing figure. The hoodie-wearing 29-year old who built the world's most popular social network is notorious for a cerebral, detached communication style that can be off-putting to users and media alike.

Chris Cox, Facebook's vice president of product, who has been with the company since 2005 when there were fewer than 100 employees, has a totally different style. Once Facebook's chief HR officer and still the person every new hire meets on their first day of work for an introduction to corporate culture, Cox is rapidly becoming the second face of Facebook.

Cox and other social media luminaries will discuss what's next for the Internet in a forum presented by The Atlantic and UC San Diego Extension this fall. From October 7-9, The Atlantic Meets the Pacific event will feature provocative conversations exploring new frontiers in science, medicine, technology and energy.

For The Atlantic Meets the Pacific event details, and to register for the public event, please visit the registration website

This spring, Cox became the star of a tour and video to support the company's initial public stock offering. In the days running up to the May IPO, as pundits and Wall Street analysts media expressed diverging opinions about Facebook's business model and offering price, they were united about one thing: Cox himself is a very likeable guy.

Honest and unbridled passion – about social media, about people, and about relationships – Cox has earned near-universal regard from media and industry insiders. Ironically, it was that passionate enthusiasm that may have led to the Facebook News Feed kerfuffle of 2009. Building the News Feed was Cox's first job at Facebook, which at the time was undergoing rapid expansion of its user base.

"People would click through profiles on Facebook looking for what's new. It was amazing. We had this massive communications infrastructure, but we still couldn't answer the question: 'What's going on?'" Cox said in the LA Times. After more than a year of research and development, the new feature was introduced quickly to all users – and reaction was knee-jerk and immediate.

Cox said the News Feed backlash made him understand what Igor Stravinsky must have felt when his ballet, "The Rite of Spring," triggered a riot after its premiere. "I had friends who I hadn't talked to in years saying, 'You just ruined something I really cherished. Please, please, please turn this off, Chris, I beg you,'" Cox said in the Chicago Tribune.

At the conference, Chris Cox will offer insights into the much-talked-about question of how to make Facebook's unparalleled user base profitable for companies and brands. One of the newest changes is just now hitting the News Feed: Sponsored Stories.

"We are moving from ads to stories," Cox said earlier this year. "Lots of ads add up to noise. Lots of stories are how we build our relationships."

Cox is passionate about stories. "Too many of our memories are still stuck at home, gathering dust on a shelf," Cox says in a 2010 video, quoted by the Silicon Valley Mercury news. "Your life is an amazing story that a lot of other people would be interested in if you told it. And Facebook is more than just a place to post links and photos."

"Maybe one day in 20 years, our children will go to Ocean Beach, and their little magical [phone] thing will start to vibrate, and it will say, 'This is where your parents had their first kiss.'"

Further insights from Cox are just one highlight of this gathering of visionaries being brought together by The Atlantic Media Company and UC San Diego Extension this fall. This second annual The Atlantic Meets the Pacific event features three days of thought-provoking conversations addressing new frontiers in science, medicine, art, technology and energy. Other speakers will include V. Craig Venter, research scientist; Stacey Snider, co-chairman & CEO of DreamWorks Studios; Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author of "The Happiness Project"; and Jane McGonigal, PhD, world-renowned designer of alternative reality games. For more information visit

For many years The Atlantic, along with the Aspen Institute, have annually gathered the nation's intellectual leaders to discuss the ideas and trends shaping American's future as part of the Aspen Ideas Festival and the Washington Ideas Forum. The Atlantic Meets the Pacific expands upon that tradition.

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