Silicon Valley darling Facebook has finally begun to don a blockchain coat, even as the broader crypto ecosystem fell into a deep, seemingly relentless freeze in late-2018. On Monday, the social media powerhouse, unironically not known for its transparency, was revealed to have made an acquisition of a blockchain startup. This news was divulged by the reporters at Cheddar, a crypto-friendly business news outlet that recently partnered with the Brave Browser.
Facebook, Meet Chainspace
Per the exclusive, Facebook purportedly quietly acquired the talent behind Chainspace, an up-and-coming blockchain startup centered around the creation of smart contracts, most of which were focused on facilitating payments. Per an official document from the Brit-run team, Chainspace long focused on creating a ledger-centric platform for “high-integrity and transparent processing of transactions,” hinting at their ambitions to create a decentralized platform reminiscent of Visa.
Details of the deal were scant, as the sources wished to maintain their anonymity, but the insiders claim that four out of the five researchers from the University College London that authored Chainspace’s whitepaper are now working hand-in-hand with Facebook. This move has seemingly been confirmed by the researchers’ LinkedIn profiles, two of which state that they now hold stints at Facebook’s London headquarters as blockchain engineers. Presumably, Chainspace’s C-suite was hired by Facebook too.
With this move, Chainspace has effectively shuttered operations, as people familiar with Facebook’s operations claim that the upstart has been left with little-to-zero staffers.
And interestingly, while the brainchild of Mark Zuckerberg has historically been quiet about internal projects, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed that a new blockchain-centric team had been picked up. The company representative told Cheddar:
“Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology. This new small team is exploring many different applications. We don’t have anything further to share.”
Although the aforementioned comment was nebulous at best, some believe that the so-called “acqui-hiring” of Chainspace’s little-known team is a move Facebook is employing to move one step closer towards a rumored stablecoin that would be integrated with WhatsApp. Per sources speaking to Bloomberg, Facebook intends to allow the cryptocurrency, to be transferred directly through WhatsApp as a way to transact value globally to oust the often expensive remittance market.
Booming Blockchain Team
Facebook’s further foray into the nascent world of blockchain comes after another Cheddar exclusive, this one released in mid-December, revealed that the company’s blockchain group has been bolstering its defenses behind closed doors. In fact, it was explained that the team now sports over 40 employees, which include blockchain-centric developers and an array of former members of PayPal’s top brass.
Even two unnamed heads of the Instagram facet of the Facebook conglomerate jumped ship, traveling just a few doors down to its parent company’s blockchain bandwagon. So, it can be argued that in spite of the dreary downturn in the Bitcoin price, the Silicon Valley mainstay isn’t ready to put blockchain and cryptocurrencies on the backburner.
The Most Important Company In Crypto’s History?
While some have been overtly sardonic of Facebook’s intentions with its crypto-related efforts, with some citing the all-seeing eye (think Sauron from the Lord Of The Rings) that Zuckerberg and his crew access, others have been optimistic.
Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano, an anti-establishment figure best known for his incessant cries of “long Bitcoin, short the bankers,” recently took to a publication he heads to clap Facebook’s blockchain team on the back. In an installment of Off The Chain, Pomp remarked that whether Facebook creates its own currency, a decentralized medium of communication, or an offering of a similar caliber, the product itself will garner global traction, while “changing the way billions of people live their lives.”
Pompliano, who currently heads the digital assets arm of Morgan Creek, even quipped that consumers should “never underestimate Mark Zuckerberg,” adding that the team at the firm, which he was once a part of, is “notorious” for its ability to single-handedly catapult offerings to the moon and back. And in the end, even if the technology giant doesn’t decide to go ahead with a stablecoin, the industry pundit maintained that Facebook is the most important company in crypto’s short, yet impactful history.