Facebook Forms New Blockchain Research Unit

Announcements, Blockchain, News | May 9, 2018 By:

Social media giant Facebook is launching a blockchain team to explore possible applications for the technology.

David Marcus, the head of Facebook’s messaging app Messenger, will spearhead the initiative. Marcus, a former president of PayPal, will be joined by Kevin Weil, head of product at Instagram, who is leaving his current role to join the blockchain research unit.

“After nearly four unbelievably rewarding years leading Messenger, I have decided it was time for me to take on a new challenge,” said Marcus. “I’m setting up a small group to explore how to best leverage blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch.”

The move comes as Facebook implements a broader shake-up of their product team. The social media giant will now operate under three divisions: a “family of apps” group (including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger), a new platforms division (including a blockchain technology team, augmented and virtual reality, enterprise technology and artificial intelligence) and a “central product services” team, which covers shared resources like ads, data analytics and security.

In January of this year, Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg had expressed his interest in cryptocurrency and its potential to fix Facebook’s “important issues.” He said that these technologies “take power from centralized systems and put it back into people’s hands,” adding that he wanted to study these technologies to understand “how best to use them in our services.”

During the same month, Facebook initiated a platform-wide ban on cryptocurrency-related ads, citing concerns that users had been exposed to fraudulent ICOs and cryptocurrency schemes.