Facebook cryptocurrency chief David Marcus announced today that he’s leaving the company. The former PayPal executive joined Facebook in 2014 to run Messenger but eventually took over plans to launch a new cryptocurrency and wallet, known at the time as Libra and Calibra, respectively.
Novi VP of product Stephane Kasriel will take over
After some pre-Meta name changes, the digital wallet launched with a small pilot in October under the name Novi but only in two countries (the US and Guatemala) and support for a single form of crypto, the Paxos stablecoin. The currency that spurred so much ire from regulators and politicians around the world, now called Diem, has yet to appear.
In posts on his Facebook page and Twitter, Marcus says, “While there’s still so much to do right on the heels of hitting an important milestone with Novi launching — 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 announced that Novi VP of product Stephane Kasriel, previously an early PayPal employee and the CEO of Upwork, will take over the leadership of the team.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg commented on the Facebook post, saying, “I’ve learned so much working with you and I’m so grateful for everything you’ve done for this place. We wouldn’t have taken such a big swing at Diem without your leadership and I’m grateful you’ve made Meta a place where we make those big bets. You’ve built a great team, and while I’ll miss working with you, I’m looking forward to working with Stephane to lead the team going forward.”
As recently as October, politicians were openly calling for Facebook to drop its cryptocurrency plans. At that time, Marcus said, “I do want to be clear that our support for Diem hasn’t changed and we intend to launch Novi with Diem once it receives regulatory approval and goes live. We care about interoperability and we want to do it right.”
What his departure means for the project overall is unclear, as well as how it fits in with Zuckerberg’s metaverse vision for the future. His departure also comes one day after fellow cryptocurrency proponent Jack Dorsey stepped down from his position as the CEO of Twitter. It seems unlikely that either one will be done with Web3 projects any time soon.