In the first issue of the year we spent
a few words on Zuckerberg's 2018 challenge to learn about decentralised technologies. We closed the brief commentary with the following line:"The fact that David Marcus, Messenger’s lead, has recently joined Coinbase Board of Directors could indeed suggest that Facebook have serious intentions to get into this space [...], or at the very least to get to know their enemy better…"
Fast-forward four months, Facebook just announced that David Marcus, who ran Messenger for 4 years, will be leading an internal team of a dozen people dedicated to exploring possible applications of the blockchain for Facebook. The timing is interesting, just a few weeks after a visibly uncomfortable Zuck, in his tie, had to explain the Cambridge Analytica debacle to a panel of old congressmen.
For what we know though, this was in the workings for a while, apparently since Morgan Beller
from Facebook's Corp Dev team began looking into emerging tech over a year ago. Making it official suggests they may already know the way forward.
The big question now is what will come out of it. There are already rumours
of Facebook own cryptocurrency, obviously, and that does not seem that far fetched if you connect the dots:
- David Marcus has deep experience in mobile payments, having exited Zong to Ebay/Paypal in 2011 to then act as Paypal's President before joining Facebook. His more recent tenure as Coinbase director will have exposed him to the ins and outs of this industry, what's possible and what's legal;
- The team counts two notable members from Instagram, who have built and scaled mass consumer-facing properties (Kevin Weil, ex SVP of Product at Twitter, and Everingham, VP of engineering);
- Telegram is gearing up (once it's finished counting its moneys) to arm +200M users with a crypto wallet.
Here are some other ideas
about what they could be up to.
Facebook also has a history of copying products/features from other companies and of being very good at M&A, so we wouldn't be surprised if the strategy involved some of that too.
Evolve or die.
PS: Here is David's personal announcement