Facebook has embarked on an aggressive hiring spree to woo crypto experts to expand its blockchain group amid speculation that the social media monopoly is considering launching its own cryptocurrency.
Facebook formed its blockchain unit in April 2018 with David Marcus, the former president of PayPal and VP at Messenger. Marcus is a longtime cryptocurrency advocate and a former board member at Coinbase, the largest US-based cryptocurrency exchange.
FB's blockchain group now has 40 employees — including a half-dozen ex-PayPal executives that Marcus poached from his former employer, Cheddar reported.
FB Eyes Blockchain-Based Payment Product
The secretive unit includes people who have worked on Google Pay and Samsung Pay, a mobile payment and digital wallet service from Samsung — the world's largest manufacturer of semiconductors and smartphones.
"They've been very quiet about what they've been working on, very stealthy," said Cheddar's Alex Heath (video below). "But it's definitely going to be some kind of blockchain-based cryptocurrency payments product."
Facebook is also considering launching a cryptocurrency that would enable its 2 billion users around the world to make electronic payments without the need for a traditional bank.
"They've already got policy people in D.C. to ramp this up," Heath said.
also talked Facebook Blockchain with @lisahopeking / @thebradsmith on @cheddar yesterday — top takeaways are that FB's brand is a problem for recruiting in the space and it's going to likely do meaningful M&A to achieve its goals pic.twitter.com/nVoiqnZ9HG
— Alex Heath (@alexeheath) December 14, 2018
Accordingly, Facebook is trying to hire crypto-savvy engineers, product managers, academics, and legal experts to expand its blockchain group.
"They're actively, actively recruiting," said Cheddar's Alex Heath. "They're also trying to scoop up crypto start-ups that are at the white-paper level, which means they don't really even have a product yet."
Facebook Is 'Going Really Hard' After Recruits
Health said Facebook is in hot pursuit of gifted recruits because the talent pool is relatively shallow since the crypto ecosystem is still in its infancy.
"The talent in this industry is so finite, and there are so many big players wanting these talented cryptographers and academics," Heath said. "So Facebook is going really hard at them. And they're having difficulty."
Facebook is having a lot of trouble with their recruiting efforts due to its numerous recent data-privacy scandals that have eroded the public's trust in the corporate juggernaut.
'A Lot of People Don't Trust Facebook'
"A lot of people obviously don't trust the Facebook brand right now, especially people in the crypto/blockchain world," Heath said. "A lot of them got into this industry because of the centralization and the data misuse of companies like Facebook."
Many users are furious after learning that Facebook has been selling their personal data — without their consent — to third parties for profit.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologized for the debacle, but the damage to his credibility and to Facebook's brand continues to reverberate.
"So the idea of Facebook creating a cryptocurrency and a digital economy within its ecosystem is either incredibly exciting — if you talk to some people — or one of the scariest things in the world, if you talk to others," Heath said. "It's very polarizing, but they are actively building this up. I think we can expect to see Facebook buy some companies up in the crypto space in the next year."
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