Facebook's blockchain team is looking for a lead dealmaker

  • Facebook has six job openings for its blockchain group, which was launched by David Marcus in May.
  • The latest listing, for a head of business development, suggests the company may be looking to get active in dealmaking.
David Marcus, vice president of Messaging Products at Facebook, speaks on stage during the annual Facebook F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, April 18, 2017.
Stephen Lam | Reuters
David Marcus, vice president of Messaging Products at Facebook, speaks on stage during the annual Facebook F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, April 18, 2017.

Facebook is looking for a "head of business development & partnerships" for blockchain at its Silicon Valley headquarters. Qualifications include at least 15 years of dealmaking experience for someone who can "lead, grow and mentor a global team of experienced business development professionals."

It's the company's sixth -- and most revealing -- job post for its new blockchain group. The five other positions are for a public policy manager, a software engineering manager in Israel, a media director and two jobs in marketing.

Speculation about what Facebook will do in blockchain has been swirling since January, when CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in his 2018 mission statement that he's interested in the technology because of how it decentralizes power. Blockchain is a distributed ledger that allows virtually any type of digital transaction to be tracked without a single institution owning or controlling it.

The big splash came on May 8, when Facebook Messenger leader David Marcus said he was changing jobs so he could set up a "small group to explore how to best leverage Blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch."

Five months earlier, Marcus had joined the board of Coinbase, the leading cryptocurrency exchange, but last month he stepped off the board, in part to avoid the "appearance of conflict," a Facebook spokesperson said at the time.

Facebook hasn't said anything about where it's going with blockchain or even whether it's focused on digital currencies. But based on the job postings, it seems to be building an artificial intelligence platform for the project and is considering new financial services and "new ways to share information."

The listing for the business development position is more illuminating because big acquisitions have been central to Facebook's expansion into new areas. Most notably, in 2014 Facebook spent $19 billion on WhatsApp, snapping up a leading messaging platform. Its next two biggest deals were for photo app Instagram ($1 billion) and virtual reality hardware developer Oculus ($2 billion).

The new job post does not explicitly say that acquisitions are part of the job. Rather, it broadly says the executive will help lead "strategy and investments while also negotiating and closing deals."

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment.

Marcus' team at Facebook currently includes Kevin Weil, vice president of product; James Everingham, head of engineering; Evan Cheng, director of engineering; and Morgan Beller, who works on strategy.

Also, just last month, Arik Sosman, joined Facebook's blockchain group as a software engineer. Sosman, previously an engineer at BitGo, was in the news in 2015 for detailing on his blog how Facebook's personal assistant "M" was powered by humans, not AI.