Facebook is launching a new team dedicated to developing blockchain technology.
Business Insider spoke to crypto industry insiders about what Facebook could be working on.
The social network is staying quiet about its ambitions, but there are a number of possibilities — from improving payments infrastructure to new tools for developers.
“Facebook showing up to the party is like the New York Yankees showing up to play high school baseball,” said one former Facebook employee who now works in crypto.
Facebook is getting into the blockchain business.
On Tuesday, the news broke that the social network was having a major re-organisation. The company’s assorted product execs were reshuffled into three major categories, and a handful of apps got new leaders.
But perhaps most intriguingly, the company now has a dedicated team focused on blockchain, the decentralized technology that underpins bitcoin and other digital currencies and cryptographic assets.
The experimental team is small — less than a dozen people, according to a source familiar with the matter. But it’s a significant step for Facebook into a new and much-hyped field. It’s being led by David Marcus — the former president of PayPal who most recently was in charge of Facebook’s Messenger app. He’s a seasoned company executive, with real experience in the traditional finance and cryptocurrency sectors; he’s also on the board of buzzy bitcoin startup Coinbase.
“They’re definitely serious, this isn’t a big company saying ‘hey let’s try and get some press coverage,'” a former Facebook employee now working in the crypto space told Business Insider. “They’re taking legitimate people in the organisation who are very high quality.” (Instagram execs Kevin Weil and James Everingham are also joining the team, Recode reported, and Facebook corporate development executive Morgan Beller has previously been investigating blockchain.)
So what is Facebook’s blockchain team actually doing? The company isn’t saying, and in his Facebook post announcing the new role, Marcus said only he is “setting up a small group to explore how to best leverage Blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch.”
One possibility is that the social network may use the tech behind the scenes to somehow improve the efficiency of its payments and existing infrastructure. It’s a possibility — but unlikely, said Ned Scott, CEO of blockchain-based social network Steemit. “I think it’s a very limited use-case for what’s possible with blockchain,” he said, suggesting Facebook may have ambitions beyond payments. So what might that look like?
Instead, he suggested Facebook might use blockchain tech to create a new platform for developers to utilize, “as a tool for building apps and integrating the services of smart contracts” (contracts powered by the blockchain that can run themselves), with digital tokens and currencies built into apps. In this world, Facebook’s finished blockchain product would look a lot more like Ethereum, a decentralized computing platform powered by crypto, than traditional digital currencies like bitcoin.
A more currency-orientated route suggested by the former Facebook employee is that the company might build a digital currency for its users, in the vein of FairCoin — a bitcoin …read more
Source:: Business Insider