Facebook acquires team behind blockchain startup Chainspace

February 5, 2019

Facebook is investing big in blockchain technology.

The social media giant has acquired four key people behind blockchain startup Chainspace and is investing considerable efforts and resources into blockchain tech, a source familiar with the company's plans told Mashable (Cheddar first broke the story late Monday).

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Chainspace, self-described as a "planetary scale smart contracts platform," recently posted a note on its website, announcing that the team is "moving on to something new."

"Chainspace code and documentation will still be open source, and all previously published academic work remains available," the note says.

Meanwhile, some of the key people behind Chainspace have already changed their LinkedIn profiles, indicating they work for Facebook now. George Danezis, Chainspace co-founder, is now listed on LinkedIn as "Blockchain researcher" at Facebook, as of February 2019. Co-founders Shehar Bano and Alberto Sonninohave done the same.


Though the news hasn't been officially announced yet, several folks from Chainspace have already made it publicly known that they're now working at Facebook.

Though the news hasn't been officially announced yet, several folks from Chainspace have already made it publicly known that they're now working at Facebook.

IMAGE:

STAN SCHROEDER/LINKEDIN

Chainspace is a decentralized application platform, somewhat similar to Ethereum, but still in early stages of development (read the project's whitepaper here). The startup was in the process of raising a seed funding round to the tune of $2.5 to $3 million and was near that goal when key members of the team got hired by Facebook. The company was previously backed by Lemniscap, MW Partners and KR1, among others.

As for Facebook, the company has publicly stated its interest in blockchain on several occasions, most notably in May 2018, when former Messenger lead David Marcus announced he's leaving that group to lead a new group "to explore how to best leverage Blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch." My source tells me the former Chainspace employees are joining this team. In December 2018, Bloomberg reported that Facebook is working on a cryptocurrency that will let users of its messaging service WhatsApp send and receive money.

A Facebook spokesperson told Cheddar that the company hasn't acquired Chainspace's tech, only the talent.

I've asked Facebook about the acqui-hire and its blockchain-related efforts and will update this article when I hear from them.

UPDATE: Feb. 5, 2019, 7:40 p.m. CET “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," a Facebook spokesperson said via e-mail.

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