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Facebook gets super serious about blockchain

The $518 billion company reorganizes, makes major talent investment in blockchain technology

Facebook

Just so you know, we’re talking about Facebook and Facebook Messenger now (via Shutterstock).

David Marcus, the man who ran Facebook Messenger, has been reassigned to run the tech behemoth’s blockchain initiative.

Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t kidding when he said back in January about blockchain technology, “I’m interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies, and how best to use them in our services.” Well, O.K., he’s probably not going deeper and studying anything but Zuck sure seems to be throwing some of his best people on to it.

And Marcus seems to be the right fit for the job. Besides being on the board of directors of Coinbase, he was also a former president of PayPal.

He announced the move like a president—on Twitter:

Sending Marcus from Messenger to this new blockchain effort is a big deal in its own right but also because it’s part of a bigger picture shift in the company announced Tuesday.

Chief product officer Chris Cox will be in charge of a division comprising of most of what is currently considered Facebook’s business. Messenger isn’t a small project for them. When it’s mentioned in their financial reports to the SEC, Messenger is usually listed with Instagram, and WhatsApp as a major business line along with the flagship Facebook product. Now all of those will be in Cox’s domain.

Two other divisions are being created alongside Cox’s “Family of apps”. One is “Central product service” that includes advertising and analytics and will be run by vice president of growth, Javier Olivan.

The other is “New platforms and infrastructure” under CTO Mike Schroepfer. That division includes augmented and virtual reality products (like Oculus, bought for $2 billion in 2014) and artificial intelligence. And it includes Marcus’s blockchain team that includes a few Instagram execs such as vice president of product, Kevin Weil.

Facebook wouldn’t take its top guy at Messenger and a couple of its top guys at Instagram and throw them on a project just to say they’re “doing some stuff with the blockchains”. That’s a serious commitment to the technology and a major investment of talent, even for a $518 billion company.

 

Disclosure: Lawrence Lewitinn is married to a Facebook employee and holds shares in the company. 

Lawrence Lewitinn, CFA is editor in chief of Modern Consensus. Disclosure: Lewitinn owns no cryptocurrencies in his portfolio.