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Facebook’s blockchain hires hint at direction

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Ledger Insights previously reported that the head of Messenger, David Marcus, was leading Facebook’s blockchain team. He was President at Paypal for three years before joining the Facebook Messenger team four years ago.

In 2015 as part of Facebook Messenger, the company launched Facebook Payments which allows friend-to-friend money transfers.

Paypal pedigree

Last month Marcus made several new blockchain hires which might give some hints at Facebook’s direction. Of the seven people listed on LinkedIn, three are ex Paypal, including two that have jumped ship within the last two months.

Perhaps this is because of David Marcus’ history at Paypal. Or it could imply that Facebook is planning their own coin, especially when you look at the roles.

Tomer Barel joined as Head of Risk & Operations for blockchain. He was formerly Senior VP of Paypal and their Global Chief of Risk and Data. Facebook also hired one of his colleagues who was Director of Consumer Risk Management at Paypal.

Christina Smedley moved over to head up Brand & Marketing for blockchain. She previously did the same role with Marcus’ Facebook Messenger team. And before that, she was at Paypal.

Other senior hires

Evan Cheng is the group’s Director of Engineering. He moves over from Facebook’s Programming Languages & Runtimes. The engineer was previously a Senior Manager at Apple for ‘Low-Level Tools’ and won an award for his contribution for the LLVM compiler. In other words, he’s a heavyweight developer. Likely he’s in the same sort of league (and more) as Gavin Wood of Polkadot, Parity and Ethereum fame.

Chen is a blockchain enthusiast and an advisor to ChainLink, the Smart Contract oracle network. ‘Oracles’ are used to enable smart contracts to access external information like foreign exchange rates.

Kevin Weil is the VP of Product for blockchain. He moves over from the same role at Instagram and before that was SVP of product at Twitter.

Morgan Beller works on Strategy and is a form partner at Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm known for its early crypto investments.

Finally, they have a young Zurich-based blockchain developer, whose primary experience is with Ethereum.

With such a heavyweight team it will be great to see what their plans are.