Commentary

Meta Crypto Chief Exits - Let's Hope This Means Its Currency Will Stay In Limbo

David Marcus, who has been serving as the head of Novi, the crypto unit of Meta, announced that he’s leaving, with hints that he may be planning his own venture.

“Personal news: after a fulfilling seven years at Meta, I’ve made the difficult decision to step down and leave the company at the end of the year,” Marcus posted on Facebook and Twitter. “While there’s still so much to do right on the heels of launching Novi — and I remain as passionate as ever about the need for change in our payments and financial systems — my entrepreneurial DNA has been nudging me for too many mornings in a row to continue ignoring it,” he added.

Marcus will be replaced by former Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel, who has served as Novi’s head of product.

Marcus is the second senior executive to leave The Company Formerly Known As Facebook this fall. Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer stepped down in September, after 13 years in the fold.

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As president of PayPal, Marcus was one of the first tech honchos to jump into cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin. He also served for a time on the Coinbase board.

After joining the company in 2014 to oversee Messenger, he moved to overseeing the launch of a digital wallet and cryptocurrency, which at the time were called Calibra and Libra.

The digital wallet, now dubbed Novi, launched in October with a small pilot that’s limited to the United States and Guatemala and supports only one form of crypto: the Paxos stablecoin, reported The Verge.

But due to heavy opposition from regulators and others around the world, the planned Facebook/Meta currency, now called Diem, has yet to launch, and its future remains unclear.

As of September, rebranding and overhauling the cryptocurrency had not managed to allay the fears of Biden administration Treasury Department officials that it could undermine the financial system’s stability, according to Washington Post sources. (If only someone had worried early on about the Facebook social platform's potential for destabilizing reliance on science and facts, as opposed to conspiracy theories.)

In October, following the Novi pilot launch, Senate Democrats wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg demanding that the company drop both the cryptocurrency and wallet initiatives. Facebook “cannot be trusted to manage cryptocurrency,” their letter (accurately) declared.

Marcus said that the company would continue to support Diem, and launch Novi with the cryptocurrency as soon as it can get regulatory approval and go live. But perhaps his departure is a bad sign for this particular manifestation of Zuckerberg's hubris.

In my book, anything that helps delay, or better yet, derail, his nightmarish “meta” plan for turning us all into virtual zombies — including anything that forestalls a virtual currency that would no doubt be the official payment system within that universe — is a very good thing.

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