Over the last year, there have been several reports of social media giant Facebook exploring the waters of blockchain and cryptocurrency. Reportedly, the tech giant has made its first move by acquiring a small blockchain startup called Chainspace, founded by researchers from the University College of London.
According to Cheddar, this acquisition of Chainspace by Facebook is called acqui-hire, a well-known move in Silicon Valley to acquire the skills and expertise of the company, instead of buying its products and services.
The publication reports that Facebook will be hiring four out of five researchers working at the Chainspace academic whitepaper. An anonymous Facebook spokesperson also confirmed Cheddar about the recent hiring from Chainspace but noted that it isn’t acquiring Chainspace’s technology. Cheddar quoted the spokesperson saying:
“Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology. This new small team is exploring many different applications. We don’t have anything further to share.”
According to the Chainspace website, the blockchain startup is involved majorly in solving the scalability problems and improving the speed of transactions. On its website, Chainspace has also mentioned that the “team is moving on to something new”.
Facebook’s Underlying Interest in Blockchain and Cryptocurrency
Facebook has recently beefed up its efforts to increase its blockchain engineering team as part of its plans for further expansion in this sector. Currently, the social media giant has 11 blockchain roles, up from five in December 2018. Currently, there are more than 40 people working in Facebook’s blockchain division.
Facebook’s blockchain team currently functions as a “startup within Facebook” according to boilerplate. Facebook notes that “Our ultimate goal is to help billions of people with access to things they don’t have now – that could be things like healthcare, equitable financial services, or new ways to save or share information.”
Several industry experts have also been betting on Facebook’s penetration in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. In December 2018, Anthony Pompliano, founder and partner at Morgan Creek Digital Assets, said that Facebook holds the potential to build the “most used product in crypto”.
Also, in December 2018, a Bloomberg report suggested that Facebook is reportedly working on its native cryptocurrency to facilitate easy transfer of money in WhatsApp.
While such reports from reputed publications certainly hold some water, we have yet to hear any official word coming from Facebook.