Facebook bolsters blockchain team

Written by Hannah McGrath

Facebook has hired a team of blockchain experts from London startup Chainspace, prompting renewed speculation that the social media giant is drawing up plans for a blockchain-based payments technology.

According to the news site Cheddar, the so-called ‘acqui-hire’ of four of the five founding members of Chainspace is the next stage in the development of Facebook’s blockchain unit, led by former PayPal president David Marcus.

Chainspace, founded by a team of University College researchers, focusses on using blockchain to build smart contracts which can speed up transactions.

Facebook’s “ultimate goal is to help billions of people” via blockchain technology, according to the Facebook careers site. Job postings in December included the following description: “We’re exploring lots of areas of interest across all facets of blockchain technology. Our ultimate goal is to help billions of people with access to things they don’t have now – that could be things like equitable financial services, it could be new ways to save, it could be new ways to share information.”

In December last year, Facebook’s blockchain team was reported to comprise of 32 members, with five roles open in marketing, data science and engineering. A number of posts are currently live on LinkedIn.

Facebook has confirmed the hires, but it is understood that no technology or intellectual property has been acquired as part of the move.

A spokeswoman for Facbook said: “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.”