Dive brief:

  • Andreessen Horowitz has recruited two of the top architects of Facebook’s Novi digital wallet to work as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) within the crypto team at the capital firm -risk, a16z Crypto.
  • Facebook’s blockchain and digital currency project is no stranger to revenue. Morgan Beller, credited as co-creator of Diem, left her role as chief strategy officer at Novi in ​​September 2020 to join NFX – like Andreessen, a venture capital firm, according to CNBC and LinkedIn. Kevin Weil, vice president of products at Novi, left in April to join Planet Labs, a satellite imagery company, according to his LinkedIn profile.
  • It wouldn’t be the first time this year a pair of executives have fled a more established market player in tandem to join a more startup-like effort. Omer Ismail – the managing director of consumer banking Marcus of Goldman Sachs – and David Stark, head of major partnerships at the unit, left at the end of February to join Walmart’s fintech.

Dive overview:

“We started looking for a world-class security leader to look at projects in our portfolio and help our own operations scale crypto-natively, and we were doubly lucky to find a pair instead.” , said the chief operating officer of a16z Crypto. , Anthony Albanese, wrote in a statement announcing the hiring of CTO Crypto a16z Riyaz Faizullabhoy and CISO Nassim Eddequiouaq.

Andreessen Horowitz launched a $ 2.2 billion crypto-focused fund in June, CNBC reported, and his crypto team has grown to 50, including outside advisers. The group has made three dozen investments, including in digital currencies, trading services and other crypto funds, its website said.

“Andreessen Horowitz has shown impressive dedication to advancing the entire crypto ecosystem over the past decade, and we have jumped at the opportunity to join their top team and provide technical support. to their rapidly expanding portfolio, ”Faizullabhoy told CNBC in a statement.

“We will advise portfolio companies to help them ensure they have the most secure and sophisticated systems available,” Eddequiouaq wrote on LinkedIn. “I look forward to supporting and advising the incredible founders who are building the future of web3. “

Executive losses hardly represent the first adversity Facebook’s digital currency effort has faced. Lawmakers and regulators have warned of the money-laundering potential of the once-called Libra project almost as soon as it was announced in June 2019. Other warnings from US senators have convinced several of Libra’s top backers, including Visa , Mastercard, Stripe and eBay, to abandon the Libra association.

The association reduced its vision for the crypto project in 2020 in response to concerns from regulators, then rebranded itself as Diem (and renamed its portfolio Novi, from the original Calibra). But it has always had difficulty obtaining regulatory approval from Finma, the Federal Financial Market Supervisory Authority.

The Diem Association withdrew its application to Finma for a payment system license in May, preferring to move its main operations to the United States, where its subsidiary, Diem Networks US, sought to register as a company. Money Services Office from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and run a blockchain-based payment system that enables the real-time transfer of US dollar-backed stablecoins.

Before joining Facebook, Faizullabhoy and Eddequiouaq respectively worked as the founding engineer and engineering manager of the Anchorage crypto platform, which this year gained conditional approval from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) for a national banking charter of trust.

“They were doing a Facebook wallet,” Albanese told CNBC. “I think here they are really going to have the opportunity to impact the crypto ecosystem on a very large scale.”

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