It’s Hard to Keep a Secret in Silicon Valley
The Silicon Valley rumor is notorious for a reason; after all, everyone is always looking to cash in on the next big project or platform. Billions of dollars may be at stake, but for some tech-savvy entrepreneurs, it’s about more than money. Everyone wants money, of course, but for some people, there may be a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) that motivates them. These days, there are people who missed the boat for the dot com bubble — and then promptly missed out on the social media craze. They want to play a part in the next big thing, and cryptocurrency may offer them that rare opportunity. But for those with stable jobs at tech giants such as Apple and Google, leaving a lucrative position for a crypto gig could be real gamble. With the volatile prices of Bitcoin and a very long crypto winter that no one will likely forget, the prospect of risk is always present. So, when word started leaking out that Facebook might be starting a crypto project, many were interested in finding out what was in store. From the outset, however, it quickly became obvious that Facebook wasn’t interested in publicizing the details of their new project. Job candidates for the new department were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements before even finding out what they were interviewing for, while the growing group was kept separate from other Facebook entities.
A New Registration Sparks Conversation
Although Facebook has been largely mum on the topic of the new crypto project, a few details have managed to emerge out of the ether. First, it is believed that the project will initially commence on WhatsApp and then eventually filter out to other Facebook products. It also seems obvious that the initial rollout will be confined to countries outside of the United States. Although Facebook has been communicating with the US Senate Banking Committee and other regulatory agencies to eventually secure its usage within the United States, it has become obvious that this may be a long road. In the meantime, the coin will be tested out in other countries. Indeed, this is also where it may ultimately wield the greatest power. After all, in certain war-torn regions, the local currency is not quite dependable. If, while trading goods and services, the residents choose to use Facebook’s coin instead of their own local currency, some experts predict that Facebook’s crypto may become the leading currency in certain countries. With this kind of potential in its future, perhaps it’s not surprising that founder Mark Zuckerberg decided to call in executives who are experienced with payment solutions. David A. Marcus, the former head of PayPal and a onetime board member of crypto giant Coinbase, has been tasked with leading the program. He’s been onboard for a little over a year, and he is making headway. On May 2 of this year, Facebook Global Holdings officially registered a new company in Geneva, Switzerland. Right now, it’s being referred to as Libra Networks.
Is This the Crypto Spring?
One of the few advantages of plummeting crypto prices is that fly-by-night investors cut and ran, for the most part. They left the issues of cryptocurrency to those who could make a difference — the developers and others who could build a stronger infrastructure. Now, with new dApps and innovations that support crypto, many believe that Bitcoin stands poised to rally. Why does this matter to those keeping an eye on Facebook’s latest project? Even though Facebook’s endeavor is widely rumored to be a stablecoin and thus tied to the American dollar in some manner, all cryptocurrencies still seemed to be influenced by the behemoth Bitcoin. If the price of Bitcoin does surge and then Facebook launches their new crypto endeavor to the public soon afterward, it may be a very fortuitous time.
Hiring Appears to Be Ramping Up
Although Facebook has been notoriously tight-lipped about this project, it does seem that big hires are still being made. Crypto experts and Coinbase veterans Mikheil Moucharrafie and Jeff Cartwright have joined the team. However, when the company is pressed for comment about the new hires, it simply says that it will not comment on personnel. And the Menlo Park office may have increased hiring even more, if their jobs page is to be trusted. As of right now, 29 blockchain-related jobs are listed, and they range quite a big deal in duties and compensation. From threat investigators to brand marketing managers, it seems that Facebook is on the prowl for excellent talent. In the coming weeks and months, it should be interesting to see who joins the over 50 employees that are already on the job.
It wouldn’t be a Facebook project if it didn’t have naysayers and backlash, and this blockchain project certainly does not lack for detractors. Predictably, the first group of critics were cryptocurrency enthusiasts themselves. Those who trade daily and those who create projects of their own were quick to voice displeasure at the concept — and it’s easy to see why. For hardcore crypto fanatics, anonymity and decentralization serve as two of crypto’s main pillars. Without both qualities, many asserted that the coin would be useless to them personally. Then, others from outside the crypto world started to weigh in. Lately, Facebook has been stirring up a lot of controversy with its privacy breaches. There was, of course, the infamous Cambridge Analytica crisis of 2016, as well as many other well-documented kerfuffles. A #DeleteFacebook movement was once trending on Twitter, and many users still believe that CEO Zuckerberg has not done enough to protect their privacy. Just a few months ago, Chris Hughes — one of Facebook’s first employees — wrote a blistering editorial in which he posited that Zuckerberg is not the right person to handle all the potential issues that Facebook encounters daily. A Democratic frontrunner for the presidency, Senator Elizabeth Warren, has been open about her belief that the social media giant has morphed into a monopoly and should be broken up. Then there was a recent Instagram data breach that revealed an astonishing amount of information about its users. People were shocked to discover that their income was being estimated by outside sources, in addition to their “likes” being tabulated. With this lackadaisical approach to privacy, some argue, how will Mark Zuckerberg attack something as complicated and nuanced as crypto? How will users be protected when their actual funds are on the line?
An Ironic Ban Has Been Lifted as Facebook Reaches out to Potential Partners
For those who are learning about Facebook’s new coin, it may be somewhat jarring to note that the social media powerhouse did not allow crypto ads for a time. Now, only ads for ICOs (initial coin offerings) and token sales will be banned. Meanwhile, as Facebook lifts a ban that now seems somewhat hypocritical in hindsight, they are actively working to secure partners for their stablecoin venture. There are rumors floating around that they have approached MasterCard and Visa, so something quite major is in the works. The more secretive the company is about their plans, the more the media seems to dig into the issue and pry for more information. At this point, it seems that those who work on the Facebook blockchain initiative are regularly referring to the coin as “Libra”, which syncs up with the company name that was registered in Geneva. The rumor mill indicates that the coin could be sent back and forth between users, as well as to companies. Therefore, a company could accept Libra payments on their Facebook page and then take some of those funds and allocate them towards buying ads on the platform. Right now, it seems as if Libra will revolutionize Facebook as a platform. Whether it will become a preferred payment system, however, is a completely different matter. People are notoriously fickle when it comes to their money, and there’s no way to tell what the future may hold for Facebook’s incredibly ambitious new project. If anyone possesses the power to set something like this in motion successfully, however, it would be Facebook.