We won't really know what kind of consequences Facebook will face from the Cambridge Analytica scandal until its next earnings report, months from now. But Facebooks is taking a lesson from struggling iced tea and camera companies by throwing some love to the blockchain. Investors: Are you happy now?
Recode first reported the formation of a new blockchain division on Tuesday. David Marcus quickly confirmed that he will no longer be running Messenger and instead will lead the way to crypto-heaven. Markus tweeted the news, as one does, and linked to a note on his Facebook page that does the usual thanking of colleagues for "a remarkable journey." He also said that it's time for him "to take on a new challenge" which will involve "setting up a small group to explore how to best leverage Blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch." He added, "onward!"
That's about all we know regarding this new venture for Facebook. Recode notes that, as the former President of PayPal, Marcus has lots of experience with payments. He's also a member of the board for cryptocurrency exchange giant Coinbase.
Personally, I wouldn't expect Facebook to launch its own cryptocurrency in the near future. This is likely just an exploratory mission that's designed to figure out how blockchain could fit into the social network and to ensure that if the technology really is the future, Facebook doesn't get left behind. Earlier this year, Zuckerberg did mention that he intended to take a deeper dive into blockchain this year. He wrote:
With the rise of a small number of big tech companies - and governments using technology to watch their citizens - many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it.
There are important counter-trends to this - like encryption and cryptocurrency - that take power from centralised systems and put it back into people's hands. But they come with the risk of being harder to control. I'm interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies, and how best to use them in our services.
We are only half-kidding about the desperate pivot to the hot buzzword that Wall Street loves to hate. Headlines declared Facebook "bulletproof" following its most recent earnings call in late April, but the bulk of its scandal-plagued recent history wasn't included in those numbers. It will surely be throwing out new initiatives (like its planned dating service) as fast as it can to keep investor interest high while it attempts to get its stock price back to the highs it was hitting in March.
Marcus's new position comes amidst the biggest restructuring of corporate leadership in Facebook's history. Executives are being shuffled around and product divisions are being regrouped. As new synergies are found and ideas ping pong off of whiteboards like balls of greased lightning, all we can do is cross our fingers that someday we will be able to pay for our goods at the company store with ZuckerCoins.