Facebook’s Marcus departs Coinbase board, fuelling M&A talk

August 13, 2018
Chris Wheal

David Marcus, a vice president at Facebook, is stepping down from his role on the board of directors at San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, fuelling speculation the social media group may have acquisitive intentions.

Facebook’s David Marcus steps down from Coinbase board: Flickr [Anthony Quintan]

Marcus joined the Coinbase board in December to apply his expertise in the payments and mobile sector, having once been president of PayPal, the online payments service.

Head of Facebook blockchain research

In May, however, Facebook appointed Marcus as its new head of blockchain research, and while there has been scant news about his team’s work, he decided this weekend was the “appropriate” time for him to resign from the Coinbase board, he said in a statement.

In Friday’s statement, provided to blockchain news site CoinDesk, Marcus added: “I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the talent and execution the [Coinbase] team has demonstrated during my tenure, and I wish the team all the success it deserves going forward.”

Coinciding, as it does, with Facebook’s growing interest in the blockchain sector, the move has been seen to be made to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interests.

Takeover speculation

Yet there may be some suspicions that Marcus’s move has been timed for other reasons.

Facebook has already become embroiled in speculation over its broader interests in the blockchain and crypto sector.

Its decision in July to reverse an earlier blanket ban on cryptocurrency advertising on its website and “whitelist” pre-approved ads from several companies – including Coinbase – fuelled talk that Facebook was preparing to make a move on the exchange.

Marcus’s abrupt departure this weekend could fuel further speculation on the future of the Coinbase exchange. One Twitter user suggested: “He was on a reconnaissance mission and is now reporting back to his generals.”

Big plans for Facebook?

Other’s just saw it as a sign that Facebook will soon be announcing big plans in the sector. Another Twitter user said the move had been announced “because FB is going to build a wallet and payment platform for a fully integrated social/crypto solution.”

Brian Armstrong, chief executive of Coinbase said in a statement: “Marcus remains a close friend of the company, and we thank him for his help along the start of our journey to create an open financial system for the world.”

Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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