The One Who Hold A Libra

Dominik Olech
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His name suddenly appeared in the crypto industry last summer, and has remained on top ever since. However, he is mostly mentioned in the context of his upcoming project. Who is David Marcus, apart from being the head of Libra?

Facebook’s blockchain project has gained a lot of attention since its announcement. We also contribute to this situation by many analyses and references in the Weekly Update series. But in most cases, we only briefly refer to the character who is actually the face of this project. It’s worth taking a closer look at him – and how he got involved in the cryptocurrency world. After all, it might be a good way to understand Libra better. Or at least to have a broader perspective.

Experienced entrepreneur

Before we move on to the Libra theme, it’s worth looking briefly at the history of Marcus.. Like many people in the cryptocurrency industry, he began his career in 1996 with founding his own company: GTN Telecom, Internet and local/long-distance calling provider. Of course, cryptocurrencies were far from being invented at this time, so he went a long way from that moment to Libra. 

Probably the most noticeable (and essential in future analysis) moment was becoming the vice president of PayPal in 2011, which eventually led Marcus to the president position in 2012. It was a time of the rising popularity of this payment processor – and he played a role in this process. Such experience in digital payments is a significant contribution to the design of a cryptocurrency such as Libra.

But suddenly, Marcus decided to join forces with Mark Zuckerberg and moved to Facebook in 2014, where he became responsible for messaging products. At that time, Messenger, the company’s flagship messaging app, was rapidly dominating the communication market. And considering Marcus’s roots in the telecommunication industry, he fit in quite well. It was him who was mainly credited for introducing P2P payments in the app infrastructure in 2015. And from that point, the connections with Libra becomes quite clear.

Crypto payment specialist

The experience gained in both PayPal and Messenger is a crucial element of Marcus’ future involvement in the Libra project. But how exactly is he connected with the cryptocurrency industry? Being involved in creating peer-to-peer infrastructure is one thing since cryptocurrencies are using such a solution. But some shreds of evidence are even more interesting. For example, Nathaniel Popper, in his book named “Digital Gold” lists Marcus among Bitcoin’s earliest adopters

As if it was not enough, he revealed his tendencies to crypto back in 2013, when he was still a part of PayPal. In an interview with Bloomberg, he suggested the company’s interest in adopting Bitcoin payments. Moreover, he was then aware of the possible implications of cryptocurrency integration and necessary regulations. It was probably the reason why Marcus didn’t decide to introduce said solutions to PayPal.

Besides being in a deep (yet now forgotten) relationship with the crypto industry in his “PayPal years,” Marcus also was a member of the Coinbase Board Of Directors in 2018. From this perspective, his involvement in developing a cryptocurrency isn’t so weird. But he probably didn’t expect how the situation would evolve eventually.

I fight the law (and the law wins?)

We have already written many articles and updates about Libra’s situation and its struggles with regulatory backlash (mostly from the side of the U.S. government). Marcus was a crucial person in this fight, protecting Facebook’s cryptocurrency in his testimonies. During one of the hearings, he admitted that he would be pleased to accept all his salary in the form of Libra coins. We may wonder if this was just a populistic move or is he really so devoted to the case.

Facebook’s conflict with the law and governments’ attempts to regulate it is still unfinished. But as for now, we may assume that the social media giant is losing one fight after another. Controversies around the cryptocurrency have recently caused the withdrawn of some important partners from Libra Association, like MasterCard or Visa. But for Marcus, probably the strongest blow was PayPal’s retreat from supporting his project. After all, he was a part of this company for a few years. He must have had some faith in that cooperation.

The final conclusion?

The last complications put Libra’s future in question, but we still have to wait some time to see how the situation will develop. But we may wonder about Marcus’ place in Facebook’s structures and the purpose of his work. Two theories seem to be suitable for explaining his role and involvement in the project.

The first one assumes that Libra was all alone Facebook’s plan to develop its own private currency. With the growing popularity of this social media platform, the demand for such a solution increased, as did the temptation to monetize the entire system. But the Facebook team didn’t have a suitable person to do it right – and that’s why Mark Zuckerberg turned to David Marcus, because of his experience in developing online money transfers. His interest in cryptocurrencies was also an additional asset.

The second theory is more focused on Marcus’ interest in crypto assets. His early experience with bitcoin may suggest that the idea of developing a full scale, the functional currency was in Marcus’ head for a long time. However, he was aware of the fact that it wouldn’t work without a bigger institution. That’s why he didn’t try to launch his own coin or the exchange on his own. At first, he considered introducing such a solution during his years in Paypal, as we mentioned earlier. But later on, Facebook’s platform seemed a more attractive solution to bring the idea of a global currency to life. 

Are any of these theories correct? We’ll probably never know – after all, there are only divagations. But one thing is for sure – David Marcus is one of the most influential people of the cryptocurrency industry in 2019 – either you like his project, or you hate it.

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