One of the co-founders of Facebook’s libra digital currency and Novi payments wallet has left the company before the release of either technology.
Morgan Beller, 27, is leaving her post as Novi’s head of strategy to become a partner at NFX, a venture capital firm focused on seed investments with offices in San Francisco and Herzliya, Israel.
“When I knew there was an opportunity to go [to NFX] and get to work with these people, that was an opportunity I couldn’t really pass up,” Beller told CNBC.
Beller rose to prominence in 2019 as one of the founders behind libra, developing the idea for the Facebook-backed digital currency alongside David Marcus, a former PayPal president and Facebook vice president.
After joining Facebook’s corporate development team in 2017, Beller quickly turned her attention to the potential of what Facebook and its more than 2 billion users at the time could do with blockchain technology.
Beller was credited by those in the blockchain community as the original driving force behind Facebook’s push into cryptocurrency.
Facebook expected to launch libra and Calibra, now called Novi, in the first half of 2020. Both technologies have been stonewalled by concerned regulators and lawmakers around the globe and neither has launched.
Beller’s departure from Facebook puts the future of libra and Novi further in doubt, though she told CNBC she’ll remain an advisor for both products to help make sure they come to market.
“I love libra, I’m a fan girl of libra,” Beller said. “I’m not going away. I’ll continue to be a friend, follow very closely and be involved at some capacity. It was just that when the NFX folks came knocking — this was obvious.”
Beller said she will continue to keep an interest in blockchain technology at NFX, but that she’s open to investing in a variety of technologies.
“The crazy, weird, creative folks who are contrarians and see the world as broken or see the world differently than other people, those are the people I want to speak to,” she said.
Since its founding in 2015, NFX has kept its focus on companies that have the potential for network effects, meaning their value and capabilities increase as more and more users join. The firm focuses its investments in U.S. and Israeli companies, said James Currier, NFX general partner.
Beller “is the kind of person who comes into venture once every 10 or 15 years,” Currier said. “The maturity, intellect, curiosity, the network, the connections, the understanding of new markets — it’s very rare for a person to have all that.”