David Marcus, until recently a top-ranking Meta executive, is back with a new crypto startup that will remind many of his recent work — but has some crucial differences.
The Los Angeles startup, Lightspark, has raised series A financing led by a16z crypto and Paradigm, with participation from firms such as Matrix, Thrive Capital, Coatue, Felix Capital, Zeev Ventures and Ribbit Capital. Lightspark declined to disclose the amount, and didn't offer an explanation as to why.
The company is focused on "extending the capabilities" of bitcoin and is working on building technical infrastructure for the Lightning Network, it said. The Lightning Network is a project designed to create faster and cheaper transactions on top of the bitcoin network.
While the company is not saying much about what it is doing, its focus on bitcoin and Lightning is notable. At Meta, Marcus was leading a team building a new stablecoin first called Libra, then Diem, along with a crypto wallet, Novi. While the goal was to build a decentralized token, it suffered from the involvement of Meta, which drew immediate scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers. Marcus testified on Capitol Hill, but his hearing performance didn't pacify politicians, and the project struggled. Marcus resigned from Meta in November, and the company eventually sold off the technology to a partner bank, Silvergate.
Now with Lightspark, Marcus is developing a new company that is working on the most decentralized of blockchains, bitcoin.
Marcus is going back to his roots as a founder, said Dana Stalder, general partner at Matrix Partners, in a statement. "When I met David in 2010, he was in his early 30s and had never really had a job. He’d always been a founder. It is who he is — a startup founder through and through. While he had a highly successful tour through PayPal and Facebook, he is back to playing to his strengths."
Block, which is developing hardware and software focused on bitcoin, is another key player in the area where Marcus plans to compete. The payments company has started a division called TBD devoted to blockchain development tools.