Facebook has recently been making a push into the blockchain space with the formation of its blockchain unit headed by David Marcus — former Coinbase board member — in May.
Recently, Facebook’s careers page posted a job opening for a Head of Business Development & Partnerships – Blockchain signaling a readiness to start actively looking for dealmaking. The move comes as part of a broader effort by Facebook to integrate with blockchain technology amid growing concerns over data privacy scandals.
Facebook has been quiet about the direction of its blockchain initiative, but that has not stopped swirling rumors about it creating its own cryptocurrency or that it was going to acquire Coinbase. Despite this, Facebook has quietly been putting together a team for its blockchain group including the hiring of Evan Cheng as its “Director of Engineering – Blockchain.”
The recent move to hire a head of business development falls in line with Facebook’s usual approach to acquiring other companies. There are a substantial amount of startups in the blockchain space, many with promising potential that Facebook would potentially be interested in.
Further, the eventual emergence of dapps focusing on social media — once they attract enough users — will present a problem for Facebook. Their continued tailspin from revelations about data privacy practices and lack of transparency has left many users upset with the company.
Although any prediction of their foray into blockchain is just conjecture at this point, the job descriptions for their blockchain group hint at an artificial intelligence platform and integration of new financial and information sharing services built using blockchain.
Facebook’s History With Blockchain
Facebook notoriously banned cryptocurrency ads from its platform back in January of this year. They have since lifted the ban on specific cryptocurrencies, but still block ads regarding ICOs and binary options.
The relationship between the cryptocurrency community and Facebook is unique in that, while Facebook’s interest in blockchain draws mainstream attention, many in the cryptocurrency community view Facebook as the prototypical third-party that cannot be trusted with private data. That is a sentiment that underlies one of the fundamental concepts of the whole point of cryptocurrencies.
Facebook’s history of transgressions in this regard has only added fuel to the fire for the debate. Creating a cryptocurrency-based payment system for their platform would likely help familiarize the mainstream with cryptocurrencies, but for the wrong reasons. Leveraging blockchains for a better ad model is more likely, but it is doubtful that we will see Facebook surrender control of its data which is its primary revenue stream.
Regardless of how Facebook’s transition into blockchain plays out, it represents a high-profile setting for how centralized tech giants will interact with a technology designed to bypass them.