Facebook’s cryptocurrency project co-creator quits

David Marcus, one of the top executives at Meta Platforms Inc. and the co-creator of the yet-to-be-launched Diem digital currency, is leaving the company after seven years to pursue other projects.

Marcus, who joined the Facebook parent company in 2014 from PayPal Holdings Inc., ran the Messenger service for years before moving over to form the company’s blockchain division in 2018.

He spent the last few years building Novi, the company’s digital wallet that launched in October, and co-founded Diem, a digital currency formerly known as Libra that was intended as a way for people to send money cross-border.

Getting Diem off the ground has proven to be a struggle for Meta and Marcus. Since the project was unveiled in 2019 — with great fanfare and dozens of partners — the currency’s debut has been delayed and its original ambitions have been scaled back.

Diem faced pushback from lawmakers and regulators when it was announced, and while Meta is still a partner on the effort, Diem is now run independently.

Marcus’s departure adds more uncertainty to Meta’s digital payment push, but the longtime entrepreneur and angel investor says he has an itch to create something outside the company.

“While there’s still so much to do right on the heels of hitting an important milestone with Novi launching — and I remain as passionate as ever about the need for change in our payments and financial systems — my entrepreneurial DNA has been nudging me for too many mornings in a row to continue ignoring it,” according to a blog post he plans to publish Tuesday.

Marcus, 48, plans to leave the company at the end of the year. Stephane Kasriel, the former chief executive officer of Upwork Inc. who joined Meta in August 2020, will take over Marcus’s role leading Novi and other payments projects.

Marcus was involved in a number of major projects at Meta during his tenure, and was a trusted lieutenant to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

He took over Messenger in 2014 when the company spun the service out of the main Facebook service into its own stand-alone app, angering users but giving Messenger more room to build features like bots and video calling.

Marcus may be best remembered for Diem, though. The effort was opposed by regulators worried about Meta’s role in financial markets. And with scrutiny on Meta only growing this year, the project remains in limbo.

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Facebook’s cryptocurrency project co-creator quits