Facebook just got more serious about its Messenger team.
And just like last year, the social networking giant has snagged a top player at PayPal to continue its payments and commerce push. TechCrunch confirmed that Christina Smedley, who was PayPal’s VP of global brand and communications, will be joining Facebook to run communications for Messenger.
Last year’s big news that came as a bit of a surprise to the Silicon Valley world was when David Marcus, now Facebook’s Messaging VP, jumped ship from PayPal to join Mark Zuckerberg’s empire. That’s when Facebook’s intentions about getting deeper into payments and enabling commerce became realized.
"We wish Christina all the best and thank her for her many contributions to our company over the past three years. The Brand and Communications teams are excited to build on PayPal’s momentum and to extend and deepen the influence of the PayPal brand as we engage our 170 million active customers around the world,” a PayPal spokesperson told TechCrunch.
While Smedley isn’t going to be reporting to Marcus, having another former PayPal executive on the Messenger team might continue to give Facebook an edge with its Messenger plans. According to what TechCrunch gathered, she was at PayPal since 2012 and her main role was to guide PayPal through rebranding as it upped its Web and mobile initiatives.
So, now, the big question for Marcus, Messenger and Facebook is whether Marcus, who believes that commerce can be streamlined by making it easy for consumers and merchants to interact in real time in the context of a commerce experience, will use those skills and experience to deliver a payments and commerce edge for Facebook. And, if he’s successful, what that will mean for his alma mater and every other mobile payments scheme vying for their fair share of the commerce pie.
In that Wired interview, Marcus sounds pretty convinced — and convincing — that Messenger will become Facebook’s global commerce platform, even if it takes a decade or so to get there.
“The messaging era is definitely now,” Marcus told Wired. “It’s the one thing people do more than anything else on their phone … I believe that messaging is the next big platform. In terms of time spent, attention, retention, this is where it’s happening. And it’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build it."
Facebook also launched an array of new features this week, all geared toward an eCommerce push that will help businesses capitalize on the reach of its platform. The social networking site announced plans to test out new ad experiences aimed to promote seamless shopping and a shop section on Pages.
According to Facebook, the goal of building these new native experiences is to enhance the ability to discover new products on mobile while also helping businesses to drive more sales.
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