Facebook has hired former BlackBerry executive Andrew Bocking to lead its new Internet.org mobile app.
Bocking, who left BlackBerry in February, was in charge of the company’s flagship messaging product, BlackBerry Messenger, prior to his departure. At Facebook, Bocking will serve as a product manager overseeing the company’s newest app, Internet.org, which launched in Zambia last week.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed Bocking’s new role, but did not provide further comment.
The Internet.org app provides free Internet services like Google Search, Wikipedia and, of course, Facebook to people in developing nations, and Zambia is the first country with access to the app. Internet.org wrote in a blog post that the app will roll out to “other parts of the world” over time, and Bocking will be responsible for those versions of the app, too.
Bocking, who worked at BlackBerry for more than 13 years, is familiar with this type of international push. During his time working on BBM, Bocking focused on expanding the messaging service into developing markets like Southeast Asia and Africa.
Internet.org has been a focus for Facebook since Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the initiative last summer. The ultimate goal is to get the entire world online. Facebook has partnered with data providers in the past to provide free, temporary access to Facebook, but the Internet.org app is the first to offer other free services in addition to the social network.
Bocking will report to Guy Rosen, the product management lead for Internet.org.