Corporate to Crypto — Coinbase & Facebook
How soon is Facebook going to buy Coinbase? I smell something simmering between the two companies.
It smells a lot like coffee, or rather, Starbucks’ recent moves. Listen here, read below, or both.
David Marcus is leaving Coinbase’s board of directors because he will begin heading up Facebook’s new strategic maneuver towards blockchain technology. Marcus kept his role at Facebook during the entirety of his stay in an advisory capacity at Coinbase. He’s an expert on growing small teams to be purchased, while being a powerful liaison, to large companies.
Marcus has been a vice president at Facebook since 2014. After joining Coinbase’s advisory board last December, he tweeted about his venture into bridging gaps for the social behemoth to blockchain:
Prior to Facebook, Marcus was a president at Paypal from 2012 — 2014. He joined PayPal after selling his mobile payments startup Zong in 2011.
If he took Zong to Paypal, and beefed up Messenger for Facebook, is Marcus turning Coinbase into Facebook’s next venture?
Taking a closer look
As Marcus was joining Coinbase’s board back in December 2017, Coinbase’s CEO Brian Armstrong said Marcus would apply his expertise in the “payments and mobile space” to guide Coinbase in its overall mission.
After just five months, Marcus became Facebook’s lead into new blockchain research and strategic partnerships. This shook up the industries of social networking and blockchain alike as many wondered what kind of collaborative efforts were possible. Neither Facebook or Coinbase have released any specific information about their intellectual endeavors to build together.
Facebook “instituted its biggest executive shakeup in its 15-year history this week,” Recode reported on Tuesday, a…www.cnbc.com
When cypherpunks and corporate strategists alike first guessed about where Facebook + Coinbase was headed, many suspected messenger would feature a blockchain functionality, perhaps like Steemit, ADAMANT Messenger, or other blockchain based messaging apps.
Marcus shut that rumor down immediately remarking that “Payments using crypto right now is just very expensive, super slow,” in an interview at Upfront Ventures’ annual summit.
In a recent statement, Marcus said his decision to resign from Coinbase’s board was “because of the new group I’m setting up at Facebook around blockchain.”
“Getting to know Brian, who’s become a friend, and the whole Coinbase leadership team and board has been an immense privilege. I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the talent and execution the team has demonstrated during my tenure, and I wish the team all the success it deserves going forward.”
He is leaving only a few weeks after Facebook excused Coinbase from its full throttle ban on cryptocurrency-related advertising. There has been zero explanation as to why Coinbase received preferential treatment of advertising on Facebook and Instagram, both of which now feature Coinbase ads. It would make sense that the social networking giant wants its users and investors to feel comfortable with Coinbase as a reliable cryptocurrency brand above all others.
Perspective and What to Watch
As a former executive search recruiter, I’m most interested to know how Coinbase will seek to fill Marcus’ seat for leadership and impact. If they are not going to find another social networking expert, then perhaps they’ll try a more structured partnership with Facebook to grow.
Perhaps the most cryptic (or crypto) message Coinbase’s CEO has made about what’s going on between Coinbase and Facebook’s love affair is this:
[Marcus has] “been a wonderful addition to the Coinbase board, providing valuable insight and mentorship. He remains a close friend of the company, and we thank him for his help along the start of our journey to create an open financial system for the world.” — Brian Armstrong, CEO, Coinbase
Facebook’s goal is to connect the world. Alongside Coinbase, would Mark Zuckerberg’s team look to create an open financial system for the world using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum?
Facebook would love to use Coinbase’s unique cryptocurrency data because selling user data is their business plan.
Coinbase would love to use Facebook’s remarkably large user base, because who wouldn’t want the world’s largest community using their services?
Only two questions remain
- How soon is Facebook going to buy Coinbase and bring mass adoption to the world of cryptocurrency?
- Alternatively, is it all a blockchain-bluff to move the needle on a fledgling stock, just like Starbucks?
The company with the giant blue “F” had a quite public fail and their fair share of brand damage after a scandal about user-data with Cambridge Analytica (now Emerdata) landed their CEO in front of US Congress for questioning.
If Starbucks is using bitcoin and blockchain to gain positive, progressive attention after sketchy operational practices came to light, why wouldn’t Facebook?
Facebook‘s recently launched Marketplace could provide in-app payment flow to capture the customer’s transaction experience. Buyers and Sellers would both get the convenience of Coinbase handling the cryptocurrency to provide safety and reliability in the transaction. And Facebook gains access to users’ wallets, potentially offering additional products their best users can directly pay for.