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For the first time in its history, Facebook is reportedly on the hunt for outside funding.
The New York Times reporter Nathaniel Popper dropped the news on Twitter April 8, saying that the company is seeking as much as $1 billion for a cryptocurrency project that was first reported on last year. Facebook has not confirmed news of such a project.
“It's interesting to think of one of the richest companies on earth raising money. When was the last time they did outside fundraising?” tweeted Popper.
Still, it’s all but certain, based on reports by multiple sources, that Facebook is making a deep investment in cryptocurrency and exploring the option of launching a stablecoin -- a digital coin that is pegged to an existing currency -- that could be used to facilitate transactions across its network of 2.7 billion users through WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram.
The Block has even tracked all the blockchain-related positions Facebook has posted in recent months, and it’s reported that former PayPal President David Marcus is leading the project. Employees who are part of the team work in a secure building accessible by key card, sources tell the Times.
Facebook’s latest venture may have less to do with money than it does with appearances.
Having outside backers involved would increase the perception that any currency introduced by Facebook is decentralized and not firmly controlled by the social giant, Popper tweeted. That would likely make it more appealing to crypto customers, given that decentralization is a main draw of cryptocurrency.
Ambreen Ali is a freelance writer and editor based in the New York City area who specializes in business and technology. She has 15 years of reporting experience, including covering Capitol Hill and reporting from South Asia.