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Facebook installs key leadership team members for Libra in the absence of a charter

Quick Take

  • Libra Association founding members will vote in a managing director for the organization, but in the meantime, Facebook has been hiring
  • These interim hires can remain or leave at the discretion of the founding members and the eventually member-elected managing director
  • David Marcus, Head of Messaging Products for Facebook, said this structure was deliberate

Facebook’s Libra Association has found a crop of temporary hires, including an interim managing director and COO in Bertrand Perez. The once Senior Director of Payments Engineering will head the association’s team ahead of the permanent managing director, who will be elected by the Founding Members of the Libra Association.

Perez spent more than seven years with PayPal, a member of the association’s founding cohort. He’s also based in Geneva, Switzerland, where Libra LLC set up shop months ago. 

In a Q&A with The Information, Facebook’s Head of Messaging Products and Libra overseer, David Marcus, distanced Facebook from the hiring of the Libra team. Marcus said if the social media giant had wanted to take an easier route, it would have had a permanent Managing Director in place. Instead, a skeleton team was hired which can stay or go at the discretion of the eventually elected managing director. It is unclear whether Facebook or members of Libra hired Perez, and it’s not known if Perez, Facebook or members of Libra hired the remaining team members. Facebook did not respond to requests for more information.

At least four roles over which managing director has jurisdiction have been filled at least temporarily, ranging from Head of Product to Head of Business Development, hailing from places like PayPal, BitTorrent and some more traditional finance institutions.

The CFO, General Counsel, Head of Compliance and Financial Intelligence and Head Economist roles, all of which the supporting documents from the Libra report called for, have yet to be filled. It is unclear whether Perez or Facebook will fill these roles, if they will stay vacant until a permanent managing director is elected, or if they will simply cease to exist following the eventual charter.

Similar to the lack of permanent fixtures, Marcus said in a company post that the lack of a Libra charter from the outset was also purposeful. Facebook could have written the charter itself and presented it for ratification, he said, but that would’ve betrayed Libra’s purpose.

We wanted every initial founding member to take part in the hard process of setting up governance rules, picking a Managing Director, and other key decisions that should not be made in isolation,” he said. “We have tried to design a system which limits the power of single organizations, including Facebook, so that this network can have a chance to become a public good one day.”

Marcus further distanced Facebook from the whole operation, saying there will be a range of ways to access Libra. Custodial and non-custodial wallets will have full interoperability with one another, so users can engage in transactions across wallets from different companies. However, Marcus also said there are still hopes that the market will “respond favorably” to its subsidiary Calibra.

“Bottom line: You won’t have to trust Facebook to get the benefit of Libra,” he wrote. 

But this hasn’t yet assuaged concerns from lawmakers home and abroad. Multiple members of Congress joined U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters in signing a second open letter to Facebook execs, calling for a moratorium on Libra’s development and more communication with policy makers. Marcus’ Facebook post came a day after.

Much of the communication coming out of Libra will fall to the head of policy and communications, now the recently hired Dante Disparte. Disparte previously chaired the risk advisory and brokerage firm Risk Cooperative, and also spent time on FEMA’s national advisory council before arriving at Libra in June.

Two months prior, Facebook brought on Kurt Hemecker as head of business development. Hemecker is also a PayPal alum, spending nearly six years with the payment service before heading to financial technology firm Aliya for the two years prior to his appointment at Libra.

For its head of product, Facebook has brought on the once Chief Strategy Officer of peer-to-peer file sharing communication protocol BitTorrent. Simon Morris spent more than eight years with the company, and also pursued positions at Realty Shares and Larke Business Solutions during his time at BitTorrent.

To head its developer ecosystem, the hiring apparatus pulled from other social media companies. Michael Engle joins Libra with six years at Twitter and two years at streaming platform Twitch under his belt.

No one from Facebook has been placed with Libra, according to Marcus, although Facebook employees are permitted to apply like any other applicant. 

It’s important to note that according to Marcus’ comments, these may not be the final hires if the founding members and the elected managing director decide to start with a clean slate and fill the slots themselves. However, Marcus said he’s doubtful that will be the case.