What Happened to Facebook's Crypto Project? Latest Developments

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Dec. 1 2021, Published 1:23 p.m. ET

Facebook parent company Meta is losing another executive just months after former chief technology officer David Schroepfer announced his own departure. This time, it's David Marcus, the head of Facebook's crypto department.

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What's next for Facebook's long-awaited crypto project—if anything—and will Meta be able to finally bring it to fruition even without top executives around?

Meta crypto executive David Marcus is stepping down.

Marcus announced that he's leaving his role as the head of Meta's crypto department at the end of the year. Marcus said that he will be pursuing entrepreneurial projects outside of the company.

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Marcus has been with Meta (formerly Facebook) since 2014 and got involved in the crypto and blockchain department in 2018. Having come from PayPal, his expertise in the payments sector was a big pull. At the time of his entrance into the role as head of crypto, there was hubbub around a project called Facebook Libra—a cryptocurrency that was supposed to launch Facebook into the global payments solution it felt it was always meant to be.

What happened to Facebook Libra?

Libra has faced quite a bit of backlash since ideation, especially from regulators who say that it could easily be used as a money-laundering portal. Marcus admitted that the shift to widespread decentralized finance is a difficult one—a fact that has been proven by Facebook's consistent pushback of crypto release dates.

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Is Facebook Libra dead?

Facebook rebranded Libra to Diem in December 2020, and the Libra Association also changed its name to Diem Association.

According to the Diem Association website, the goal of Diem is to "provide people everywhere access to safe and affordable financial services [...] so people everywhere can live better lives."

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While Libra might be dead, Meta is still banking on the rollout of Diem sometime in the future.

Also, Facebook is working on a digital wallet called Novi, which would allow people to make blockchain-based transactions for their own crypto and others. Marcus led Novi, but the platform's fate is in question now that the executive has announced he's moving on to new ventures outside of the Meta ecosystem.

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Facebook's crypto release date still isn't known.

Years after announcing the plan for Facebook Libra, and a full year after rebranding it to Diem, Meta's crypto release date remains a mystery. The last update pinned Facebook's crypto project to release in early 2021. Now, at the start of December 2021, that prediction has long been lost.

Now, two executives who were heavily involved in crypto projects at the company have announced their departure—a turnover rate that doesn't spell success for the company.

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The digital wallet project Novi says that it will release its own product "soon"—a word that doesn't necessarily mean anything without a firm timeline.

For Facebook parent company Meta, crypto projects have proven to be much more difficult than initially predicted. Bringing blockchain services to the public comes with a lot of logistical obstacles, not the least of which is regulatory concerns.

As Facebook is forced to give up previously acquired Giphy in a retroactive regulatory slam, Meta's next moves—crypto or otherwise—are hazy.

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