David Marcus Steps Down From Coinbase Board to Avoid Conflict of Interest

News and Analysis

Facebook blockchain head David Marcus is quitting the board of directors at cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase with his departure most likely being a signal that the social networking giant’s secretive blockchain efforts are progressing.

In a statement published by CoinDesk David Marcus said:

“Because of the new group I’m setting up at Facebook around blockchain, I’ve decided it was appropriate for me to resign from the Coinbase board.”

A Coinbase spokesperson said Marcus’ decision to step down was made to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, but declined to elaborate.

Marcus joined the board at Coinbase in December 2017. At the time, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said Marcus would apply his expertise in the “payments and mobile space” to guide the San Francisco-based company in its overall mission.

At Facebook’s F8 conference in May 2018, Marcus was named the company’s new blockchain research lead. The social media giant has not released any details about the work it is doing in the field, though Marcus’ team reportedly has fewer than a dozen members.

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong thanked Marcus for his service in a separate statement.

“David Marcus has been a wonderful addition to the Coinbase board, providing valuable perspective and mentorship.” 

Business Insider reported Friday that Facebook had spoken to “a number of crypto projects” on how it can leverage the technology. One of these projects includes Stellar, which developed the XLM cryptocurrency, however, later that day a Facebook spokesman told Cheddar that the company is “not engaged in any discussions with Stellar, and we are not considering building on their technology.”

The establishment of the blockchain team at Facebook followed the implementation of a broader shake-up of the company’ product team, which led to the formation of three separate divisions: a “family of apps” group, “central product services” and “new platforma and infra.”

Later that month, anonymous sources familiar with “Facebook’s plans” told Cheddar that Facebook is “exploring” the creation of its own in-app cryptocurrency, despite having banned crypto ads on the platform earlier this year.

Notably, after Facebook said in July it would update its policy “to allow ads that promote cryptocurrency and related content from pre-approved advertisers,” Coinbase ads are now appearing again on both Facebook and Instagram.

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