Facebook’s top digital currency engineer leaves to go to a16z crypto fund

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Marc Andreessen spoke at the 2017 Recoding Conference on May 30, 2017.

Asa Mathat of Vox Media

The venture capital firm told CNBC on Monday that the two top engineers of Facebook’s blockchain and digital currency projects had left the company and joined Andreessen Horowitz’s encryption team.

Riyaz Faizullabhoy and Nassim Eddequiouaq have been working on the development of Facebook’s Novi digital wallet for the past two years, which was originally called Calibra. This effort has met with strong resistance from global regulators and legislators, and many of its well-known leaders have already left.

Faizullabhoy and Eddequiouaq will serve as the chief technology officer and chief information security officer of Andreessen’s encryption team called a16z Crypto, respectively. In June, the company announced a new $2.2 billion fund focused on cryptocurrencies.

Faizullabhoy told CNBC in a statement: “Andreessen Horowitz has shown impressive dedication to advancing the entire crypto ecosystem over the past ten years, and we seized the opportunity to join their top Team and provide technical support for their rapidly expanding portfolio.”

After working for Facebook’s Novi digital currency wallet for the past two years, Riyaz Faizullabhoy joined Andreessen Horowitz as the CTO of the venture capital firm a16z Crypto team.

Offered by Andreessen Horowitz

Although Andreessen has been actively investing in encryption and blockchain, and has gained huge windfalls from early bets on Coinbase, which went public in April, Facebook has not yet made much progress in this area.

The company announced Calibra and its Libra digital currency with great fanfare in 2019, and expressed its hope to launch these products in 2020. There are less than three months left in 2021, but neither has been released, although the name has changed. Calibra became Novi, and Libra was renamed Diem last year.

Morgan Baylor is one of the founders of Facebook’s encryption department. She resigned from Novi’s position as head of strategy in September 2020 and joined the venture capital firm NFX. Kevin Weil, also a co-creator, left in March to join the satellite imaging company Planet Labs.

Marc Andreessen co-founded a16z in 2009 and has served on the Facebook board of directors since the year before the company was founded. Anthony Albanese, the fund’s head of operations, said his crypto team has about 50 members, including external consultants. According to its website, the group has made three dozen investments, including digital currencies, trading services and other crypto funds.

After working for Facebook’s Novi digital currency wallet for the past two years, Nassim Eddequiouaq will join Andreessen Horowitz as the chief information security officer of the venture capital firm a16z Crypto team.

Offered by Andreessen Horowitz

Albanese said that the encryption strategy of venture capital firms will enable Faizullabhoy and Eddequiouaq to solve a wider range of problems than Facebook offers.

“They will advise our portfolio companies on the agreement to help them ensure that they have the safest and most complex systems,” Albanese said.

“They are making a Facebook wallet,” he said. “It’s more specific. And I think here, they really have a chance to influence the crypto ecosystem on a very broad scale.”

Before joining Facebook, the two worked at Anchorage, a digital asset banking startup. At Facebook, they have established a technical infrastructure that can store digital currency in the company’s Novi wallet.

Eddequiouaq said in a statement: “Encryption is a once-in-a-generation technological change, with the potential to give everyone unlimited potential.” “It also brings a unique set of complex security challenges, and each encryption project requires identification and Solve these challenges.”

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