Facebook Poaches PayPal President to Head Up Mobile Messaging

David Marcus Had Been at PayPal for 3 Years

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Facebook has just poached PayPal's president, David Marcus, to be its VP-messaging products, a new role at the company.

The hiring of a seasoned mobile-payments executive signals the social network's intent to make its messaging service, Messenger, into a business. Mr. Marcus won't oversee WhatsApp, however, and that business is to continue to run independently as Instagram has. He also won't take part in Facebook's existing payments business, where users make payments in games and other apps that run on Facebook.

David Marcus
David Marcus

Facebook Messenger has its own massive user base, however. Mark Zuckerberg said that the standalone app had reached the 200-million-monthly-user mark in the first quarter of 2014. It's part of Facebook's strategy to "unbundle" its services, though messaging is also still integrated into the core Facebook app. All told, the company says that 12 billion private messages are sent daily between Messenger, Facebook.com and the core Facebook apps.

Facebook Messenger has no advertising, and nor does WhatsApp, which has famously eschewed it. (While WhatsApp charges users a low fee to use the service, Messenger is free to use and thus generates no revenue for Facebook.) Those two services compete globally with a plethora of other apps focused on one-to-one messaging, such as Asian giants WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk, which have brought in revenue from sources like the sale of digital stickers and in-game purchases by users.

WeChat, for instance, has also been experimenting in some ambitious areas too. In China, it offers online-payment services and banking, and it's getting into e-commerce.

Mr. Marcus posted on Facebook and LinkedIn announcing his decision to take the new job. He had been PayPal's president for two years and originally came to the company in 2011 after it acquired a mobile-payments startup he founded called Zong, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He wrote, "While I was in the middle of my thought process about what was next for me, Mark Zuckerberg and I got together. Mark shared a compelling vision about Mobile Messaging. At first, I didn't know whether another big company gig was a good thing for me, but Mark's enthusiasm, and the unparalleled reach and consumer engagement of the Facebook platform ultimately won me over. So… yes. I'm excited to go to Facebook to lead Messaging Products. And I'm looking forward to getting my hands dirty again attempting to build something new and meaningful at scale."

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