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

13 May 2022

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

Lightspark, the new bitcoin payments platform, will be led by Marcus and other former Meta employees.

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

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

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

Bad timing?

Marcus’s return to the crypto scene has been anticipated since he left Meta last November and hinted at starting his own venture.

“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 may not be ideal. Cryptocurrencies across the board have plummeted in value this week – with one, Luna, losing roughly 96pc of its value.

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.

Investors appear optimistic too. Andreessen Horowitz, in an announcement of its 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.”

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

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic