David Marcus of the Facebook blockchain research team announced today that he is removing himself from Coinbase’s board of directors. This is in order to avoid any conflict of interest between his now-former company and Facebook, as the latter continues their foray into blockchain technology.
according to TechCrunch on Friday, Marcus’ resignation represents a step forward for Facebook’s crypto efforts, as well as the removal of an important PR hurdle. Marcus carries out an important role within both companies, as TechCrunch’s John Constine notes:
Marcus was formerly the president of PayPal and helped Facebook Messenger adopt chatbot commerce and peer-to-peer payments, so he was both a natural choice for Coinbase’s board and Facebook’s blockchain skunklabs.
Marcus was appointed to the team in May, while later in July Facebook stalwart Even Cheng took on the role of director of engineering for blockchain, Bitcoinist reported.
Clearing a Hurdle
According to a statement from Marcus, his departure came “because of the new group I’m setting up at Facebook around blockchain.” Marcus notes that despite the resignation, he left the Coinbase on good terms, giving shimmering reviews of his co-workers:
Getting to know Brian [Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase], who’s become a friend, and the whole Coinbase leadership team and board has been an immense privilege. I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the talent and execution the team has demonstrated during my tenure, and I wish the team all the success it deserves going forward.”
With this hurdle cleared, Facebook now has even more reign over how they move forward with unveiling their plans to the public. However, this does not mean the social media giant is eager to do so. The developmental stages of the project have created an atmosphere of patient expectation. One Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch:
“We are still in the very early stages and we are considering a number of different applications for the blockchain. But we don’t have anything else to share at this time,”
This hushed attitude has not deterred the crypto community from speculating what Facebook’s grand intentions are. Some are musing on how Facebook may use blockchain tech to improve data security. In July, Bitcoinist reported that:
Some suggest that the social media giant might try to leverage the technology to enhance protection of user data or to verify identities.
TechCrunch considers one possibility of Facebook integrating micropayments and P2P into its platform, noting that:
Facebook could offer cryptocurrency-based payments between friends to let a wider range of users settle debts for shared dinners or taxis through Messenger. Users might fund their Facebook Crypto wallet once with a payment, possibly with a one-time transaction fee, and then they could send and receive the tokens for free from then on.
Whatever the possibilities, it is clear that something big is stirring in Facebook’s R&D department. Despite the relatively slow trickle of information, signs like Marcus’ resignation indicates a growing momentum for the curious public.
What are your thoughts and speculations about Facebook’s blockchain research? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!
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