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Meta’s cryptocurrency boss, David Marcus, to leave company at year-end

November 30, 2021, 8:36 PM UTC

Meta Platforms’ cryptocurrency ambitions were dealt yet another blow Tuesday.

Just weeks after the long-awaited debut pilot program of Novi, the social media and advertising giant’s digital wallet app, David Marcus, the executive who has led Meta’s yearslong push into crypto, announced he would be leaving the company at the end of the year. Former Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel, who joined Meta in 2020, will succeed Marcus in leading Novi, Marcus tweeted Tuesday.

“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,” Marcus wrote on Twitter.

Originally hired in 2014, Marcus joined Facebook to work on its messenger product after spending three years at PayPal, a tenure that was capped by his time as the payments company’s president. Then, in 2018, Marcus was tapped to head up Facebook’s newly formed blockchain unit—a role that would ultimately lead him to help create Novi and Diem, the yet-to-be-launched digital currency from Meta previously named Libra.

Facebook’s crypto ambitions were first met with a swell of fanfare. At the time, the company was one of the most notable in corporate America to openly express an interest in crypto with plans to create a digital asset that would allow money to be sent anywhere in the world with Facebook products. Wall Street analysts even saw the move to create what was then known as Libra as a clear way for Facebook to diversify its revenues beyond advertising.

However, as details emerged about Facebook’s crypto plans, lawmakers and regulators in Washington, D.C., began to raise concerns that have ultimately derailed the company’s ambitions.

Today, while Novi has partially launched to the world, Diem is now run by an independent association and has yet to be released to the public.

Not that lawmakers aren’t concerned still. On Oct. 19, a group of U.S. Democratic senators including Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts wrote to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking him to cease rolling out the Novi pilot program.

“Unfortunately, Facebook’s decision to pursue a digital currency and payments network is just one more example of the company ‘moving fast and breaking things’ (and in too many cases, misleading Congress in order to do so),” the senators wrote. “Facebook cannot be trusted to manage a payment system or digital currency when its existing ability to manage risks and keep consumers safe has proven wholly insufficient.”

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