Facebook’s “acqui-hire” of Chainspace for an undisclosed sum came amid a broad search for crypto engineers that began in early 2018. They have been in talks with “at least a dozen startups so far,” and an unnamed investors is said to have been approached by them “multiple times about making an acquisition of a company from his portfolio as a way to hire engineering talent,” The Information reported.
The companies that Facebook has supposedly spoken too include scalable blockchain project Algorand, stablecoin startup Basis that shut down in December due to regulatory issues, and encrypted messaging app Keybase that supports Bitcoin and Zcash wallet addresses. Neither Facebook nor these companies wanted to comment on the matter.
Previous reports state that Facebook is looking to develop a stablecoin for use on messaging app WhatsApp in India, but they were reluctant to confirm or deny its stablecoin plans or further blockchain developments, and released a statement that read, “Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology. This new, small team is exploring many different applications.”
Facebook’s efforts in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space have not always been clear. The company has appointed a blockchain team, leading the crypto community to speculate on what they could be building. Not everyone is happy that the giant is moving into the space: in a piece on three possible ways to destroy Bitcoin, TechnologyReview speculated last spring that, should Facebook decide to have its own cryptocurrency, they wouldn’t even have to make a new coin: they could just fork Bitcoin into a corporate version – or take it over completely. After having 2.2 billion users hooked onto Bitcoin through their own platform, seizing it and making it centralized would only be a step away.
But the potential evil masterplan could be further away than anyone expects. After all, the company shows clear preference for exploring artificial intelligence (AI) rather than blockchain.
In either case, this year could become the year of major acquisitions, if current trends are to be trusted: only a few days ago, major cryptocurrency exchange Kraken announced that they have bought cryptocurrency trading platform and index provider Crypto Facilities in a “nine-figure deal.” Their intention now is to move up into the big players league, according to a person familiar with the matter, The Information reports, adding that the company is on the verge of closing a USD 100 million deal that will be used to fund additional acquisitions.