Ex-Meta crypto head David Marcus launches his own bitcoin start-up

David Marcus, the former head of Meta’s crypto business who left the company recently, is starting his own crypto businesses called Lightspark.

In a tweet yesterday (12 May), Marcus said that the start-up will “explore, build and extend the capabilities and utility of Bitcoin”.

While there’s not much else known about Lightspark at this point, Marcus said that he is now assembling a team “to dive deeper into the Lightning Network”, which is essentially an additional layer of payment protocol over bitcoin that enables faster transactions.

I wanted to share that we are starting a new company called @lightspark to explore, build and extend the capabilities and utility of #Bitcoin. As a first step, we’re actively assembling a team to dive deeper into the Lightning Network. (1/3)

— David Marcus (@davidmarcus) May 12, 2022

Marcus, who was once at the helm of PayPal and most recently led Meta digital wallet Novi, is joined by some former colleagues from Novi in co-founding and leading Lightspark, such as former VP of brand and marketing, Christina Smedley, and former VP of engineering, James Everingham.

And leading the investment side of things is Silicon Valley-based VC firms Andreessen Horowitz, also known as a16z, and Paradigm – who are both betting big on crypto. Other backers include Thrive Capital, Coatue, Felix Capital, Ribbit Capital, Matrix Partners and Zeev Ventures.

Bad timing?

Marcus’ return to the crypto scene has been anticipated since he left Meta last November, when he had first hinted at possibly starting his own venture.

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“While there’s still so much to do right on the heels of launching Novi – and I remain as passionate as ever about the need for change in our payments and financial systems – my entrepreneurial DNA has been nudging me for too many mornings in a row to continue ignoring it,” Marcus tweeted at the time.

However, his timing of launching Lightspark isn’t ideal. Cryptocurrencies across the board have plummeted in value this week – with one of them, Luna, losing roughly 96pc of its value and collapsing to nearly $0. Bitcoin, being the most popular cryptocurrency, has taken a big bit too.

But Marcus defended the timing of his launch.

“Downturns are good moments to focus on building and creating value with mission-aligned people. We’re excited to dive into Lightning, learn more, and work alongside the community. We’ll share more about our work as we make progress!” he tweeted in the thread.

His investors are optimistic too. Andreesen Horowitz, in an announcement of their investment in Lightspark, hailed Marcus as “nothing short of a legend in the payments and crypto industry”.

“When David spoke to us about Lightspark and the early team he had assembled, several of whom we had tried to hire ourselves, we couldn’t have been more thrilled,” the VC firm said. “This is the sort of team and audacious mission that doesn’t come around often.”

David Marcus speaking at LeWeb Paris 2013. Image: Adam Tinworth/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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