Marc Andreessen speaks at the ReCode Conference 2017 on May 30, 2017.
Asa Mathat for Vox Media
Two of Facebook’s top engineers for its blockchain and digital currency project left the company to join Andreessen Horowitz’s crypto team, the venture capital firm told CNBC on Monday.
Riyaz Faizullabhoy and Nassim Eddequiouaq have spent the past two years working on Facebook’s Novi digital wallet, which was originally called Calibra. The effort met with fierce opposition from regulators and lawmakers around the world, and a number of their senior executives have left.
Faizullabhoy and Eddequiouaq will serve as Chief Technology Officer and Chief Information Security Officer respectively in Andreessen’s crypto team called a16z Crypto. In June, the company announced a new $ 2.2 billion cryptocurrency-focused fund.
“Andreessen Horowitz has shown an impressive commitment to the advancement of the entire crypto ecosystem over the past decade, and we seized the opportunity to join their world-class team and provide technical support for their rapidly growing portfolio,” Faizullabhoy said in a statement to CNBC .
After working on Facebook’s Novi digital currency wallet for the past two years, Riyaz Faizullabhoy joins Andreessen Horowitz as Chief Technology Officer of the a16z crypto team at the venture capital firm.
Courtesy of Andreessen Horowitz
While Andreessen has been actively investing in crypto and blockchain, making a big profit from an early bet on Coinbase that went public in April, Facebook has not yet shown much progress in this area.
The company announced Calibra and its digital currency Libra 2019 with much fanfare and hoped to launch the products in 2020. With less than three months in 2021, neither was released, although the names have changed. Calibra became Novi and Libra was renamed Diem last year.
Morgan Beller, one of the founders of Facebook’s crypto unit, left her position as chief strategy officer at Novi in September 2020 to join the venture capital company NFX. Co-creator Kevin Weil left the company in March to join satellite imagery company Planet Labs.
Marc Andreessen, who co-founded a16z in 2009, had been on the board of Facebook for a year before he opened his company. His crypto team has around 50 members, including outside consultants, said Anthony Albanese, the fund’s chief operating officer. The group has made three dozen investments, including in digital currencies, trading services, and other crypto funds, according to its website.
After working on Facebook’s Novi digital currency wallet for the past two years, Nassim Eddequiouaq is moving to Andreessen Horowitz as Chief Information Security Officer of the a16z crypto team at the venture capital firm.
Courtesy of Andreessen Horowitz
Albanese said the venture firm’s crypto strategy will allow Faizullabhoy and Eddequiouaq to work on a wider range of problems than what Facebook has offered.
“They will advise our portfolio companies on protocols to ensure they have the most secure and advanced systems in place,” said Albanese.
“They created a Facebook wallet,” he said. “It was more specific. As I am thinking here, they are really going to have the opportunity to affect the crypto ecosystem on a very broad scale.”
Before joining Facebook, the duo worked at Anchorage, a start-up for digital asset banks. At Facebook, they built the technological infrastructure that would keep the digital currency in the company’s Novi wallet.
“Crypto is a unique technological step in the generation with unlimited potential to empower everyone,” Eddequiouaq said in a statement. “It also brings with it a unique set of complex security challenges that every crypto project must identify and address.”
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