On Monday, Facebook announced that it had hired David Marcus, the president of eBay’s PayPal division and a former entrepreneur to lead the expansion of its messaging products — and eventually, to figure out how to make money from them.
The hire is a major Silicon Valley executive defection and underscores how Facebook is bolstering its product portfolio with a key new recruit.
Facebook officials have specified that Marcus will work on mobile messaging and it appears that he will not run WhatsApp or deal with its payment products.
Building and monetizing Facebook messenger could be interesting, but Marcus comes from an ecommerce background and is known for building payments platforms and bringing them to scale. Facebook has had great success with small businesses that set up their Facebook pages and advertise on Facebook. The obvious next step would be to allow customers to complete the purchase without ever leaving Facebook. One can’t help but speculate on the possibilities, given the competitive nature of the market, the rate of innovation and the growing digitization of our lives.
In his three years at PayPal, Marcus helped turn the payment service into a business that processed $180 billion in transactions last year and accounted for 41% of eBay’s revenue.
In a message he posted on Facebook and LinkedIn, Marcus said that he had missed being an entrepreneur leading a small team of people. He joined PayPal when it acquired his mobile payments startup, Zong, and eventually he oversaw 14,000 people.
Marcus’ departure, which is effective at the end of June, came as a shock to eBay, where he was widely respected.
“David reinvigorated product design to deliver compelling consumer experiences and energized the team to make a great business better,” John Donahoe, eBay’s chief executive, wrote in a blog post announcing the move. “An entrepreneur at heart, David has made a career decision to focus on what he loves most — leading smaller teams to create great product experiences.”
Donahoe, who will lead PayPal until a new president is named, said that PayPal had strong leadership and products.