Facebook is "very serious" about creating its own cryptocurrency, Cheddar reported Friday, citing sources familiar with the social media giant's latest ambition. The Menlo Park, California-based firm just completed the largest executive reshuffle in its fourteen-year history which, among other things, allowed for the creation of a new blockchain division led by David Marcus who so far oversaw the Messenger team. The blockchain unit is part of Facebook's New Platforms and Infra(structure) group led by Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer and is presently said to consist of under a dozen employees who are exploring blockchain solutions.
While confirming the creation of the new blockchain team in a Facebook post earlier this week, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg didn't elaborate on its purpose. Sources close to the company claim this secrecy is being practiced by design and is also the reason why blockchain has been left out of Facebook's recent product roadmaps despite the fact that it has been actively pursued by the company for over a year now. After poaching Medium's corporate development expert Morgan Beller in mid-2017, Facebook tasked her with exploring opportunities in the blockchain space, having now constructed an entire team around that idea.
Mr. Marcu, the company's new blockchain chief, is a former PayPal President and an early Bitcoin investor who was also appointed to the board of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase last December. "This new small team will be exploring many different applications," a Facebook spokesperson told Cheddar, without elaborating on the matter or confirming its ambitions to launch a new cryptocurrency. While creating its own digital token would allow it to make a new cryptocurrency, Facebook has no intentions of trying to raise funds through an initial coin offering (ICO), sources claim. A digital currency would allow the company to run a more independent online marketplace, though developing one is likely to take years and multiple acquisitions, insiders believe.
Facebook has one failed virtual currency experiment in its portfolio; called Facebook Credits, the project introduced in 2009 was meant to support in-app purchases in Facebook apps and games but gained little traction and was discontinued after two years. While blockchain is the basis of today's cryptocurrencies, the technology as a whole has much wider implementations and publicly accessible digital ledgers could allow Facebook to do everything from encrypting data to verifying user information in a much more accurate and reliable manner. Google has also been exploring the blockchain segment for some time now, according to recent reports.