The leader of Facebook’s crypto project is leaving the company

    04 Dec 2021

    David Marcus, the head of Facebook parent company Meta’s cryptocurrency efforts, said Tuesday that he will be parting company with the social media giant. Experts suggest that Marcus’s departure comes after delays of the Diem project amid scrutiny from regulators.

    Marcus announced the decision via a Monday tweet but hinted that it might be something “new and exciting” that he builds himself:

    “After a fulfilling seven years at Meta, I’ve made the difficult decision to step down and leave the company at the end of this year,” he said in a post.

    Marcus, who joined Facebook in 2014 after two years as president of PayPal, is a leader of Facebook’s cryptocurrency and fintech unit Novi and the co-creator of the yet-to-be-launched Diem digital currency.

    He oversaw Libra, a digital currency announced by Facebook in 2019 with the promise of allowing people to send money across borders easily. However, the Libra project was hit by delays amid scrutiny from legislators and regulatory bodies. Initial concerns centered on Facebook’s potential influence on financial markets and potential privacy risks. Marcus was called to testify before members of Congress on the matter in 2019.

    Facebook later renamed Libra as Diem. The company also launched a digital wallet called Novi in a limited pilot in October – but without the digital currency that was initially intended to be its most prominent feature.

    “While there’s still so much to do right on the heels of launching Novi — and I remain as passionate as ever about the need for change in our payments and financial systems — my entrepreneurial DNA has been nudging me for too many mornings in a row to continue ignoring it,” Marcus said in one of a series of Twitter posts.

    The news of Marcus’s departure comes after a particularly tough period for the company’s public image following the release of hundreds of internal documents from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen.

    What his leaving means for the project overall is unclear, as well as how it fits in with Zuckerberg’s metaverse vision for the future.

    Marcus’s departure follows that of other key executives who led Facebook’s ill-fated efforts in blockchain. Fellow project founder Morgan Beller left the company in September 2020 to go into venture capital. In March, Kevin Weil, another one of the project founders, resigned to join Planet, a San Francisco company with a fleet of satellites that take photos of the earth once every day, providing users with imagery that demonstrates how the world changes.

    “We wouldn’t have taken such a big swing at Diem without your leadership, and I’m grateful you’ve made Meta a place where we make those big bets,” wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a comment on Marcus’s Facebook profile.

    Marcus said that Novi VP of product Stephane Kasriel, previously a PayPal employee and former CEO of Upwork, will take over leading the team.

    “I can’t wait to witness this from the outside,” he tweeted. “I know there’s greatness ahead.”

    Image source: Wikipedia

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