Facebook Gets Serious About Blockchain With Exec Reshuffle

Evan Cheng

After setting up a group within Facebook to look into blockchain technology, Facebook may be bolstering its efforts in the field: Evan Cheng has taken on the position of director of engineering, blockchain, at the company, according to reports and his LinkedIn profile.

Before taking the latest position, Cheng led programming languages and runtimes at the tech firm. And, prior to arriving at Facebook, Cheng worked at Apple for 10 years. His most recent position at that tech firm was a senior manager. While at Apple, Cheng also worked in areas such as compilation as well as back-end engineering.

But Cheng has tweeted about blockchain topics. In addition, reports say that he serves as an advisor to startups and projects in the blockchain space such as ChainLink and Zilliqa. Beyond Cheng, it has been reported that Kevin Weil has taken the position of Facebook’s vice president of product, blockchain.

The news comes as Facebook’s announcement in May that it was creating a blockchain unit led by one of its most senior executives, David Marcus, is raising speculation among those in the blockchain world — because the social media company said little in public about what the group will be doing. The Financial Times reported that those within the blockchain community have been studying Marcus’ resume to get clues to the direction the blockchain efforts could take at Facebook. Marcus had been in charge of Facebook Messenger for a period — and prior to that, was president of PayPal.

Marcus also sits on the board of Coinbase, the cryptocurrency exchange. Experts told the Financial Times that Facebook could be using blockchain to enable payments on the social network by developing its own cryptocurrency. Another option is that it could use the technology to improve privacy for its legions of users, providing them with a way to prove they are who they say they are. The paper noted that a potential threat to Facebook’s social media dominance is if a competitor builds a blockchain social media platform that rewards people for posting on it.