Facebook Turns to the Blockchain with Coinbase Board Member at the Helm

Three months after banning cryptocurrency ads from all its platforms, Facebook is launching a blockchain research and development initiative. With fellow tech giants Oracle and Microsoft already deeply invested in the research and development of blockchain technology, Facebook has joined the bandwagon, and it’s looking to the current head of Messenger, David Marcus, to lead the initiative. The team will include other high-ranking executives from Facebook and its subsidiary, Instagram, according to people privy to the matter.

Marcus has been at the helm of Facebook’s messaging app since 2014 and has led it from a relatively new product to one of the most downloaded apps with over 1 billion people using it every month. Before joining Facebook, Marcus was the president of PayPal. He has been a vocal supporter of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, and this has seen him appointed to the board of Coinbase, the popular crypto exchange.

Blockchain For Data Protection

Confirming the announcement through his Facebook page, Marcus described his new role as a challenge he was all too eager to embark on. He will be joined by James Everingham, the VP of engineering at Instagram, and Kevin Weil, Instagram’s VP of product.


The news comes after Facebook was rocked by a data breach scandal involving British firm Cambridge Analytica. While Facebook has yet to confirm exactly how it plans to apply blockchain tech, better data protection may be among its top priorities. Earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg resolved to learn about decentralization, encryption and cryptocurrencies. This got the crypto community excited, only for Facebook to turn around and ban all crypto-related ads from their platforms toward the end of January, a move whose ripple effect saw Google and Twitter follow suit. The three companies combined constitute close to half the digital advertising space.

Marcus will be replaced at Messenger by Stan Chudnovsky, the former head of product at Messenger, in what is Facebook’s biggest reshuffle yet. The social media giant has been reorganized into three main divisions: the family of apps including WhatsApp and Instagram, the new platforms which will explore emerging fields such as VR and blockchain, and the central products services which will encompass all the other functions such as security and growth. Marcus will report to Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s CTO.

The announcement comes less than a week after software giant Oracle announced that it would be debuting its blockchain-as-a-service offering this month. The platform will begin to support decentralized apps in June. The Redwood City, California-based company has already been working with Banco de Chile on a Hyperledger-based solution for the bank, as well as with the Nigerian government. In a week filled with positive corporate announcements regarding blockchain technology, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure also announced the official release of its blockchain app creation service, Azure Blockchain Workbench, which will allow developers to create customized blockchain apps.