Facebook announced on Saturday (July 7) that it had promoted the previously unheralded Evan Cheng to the role of Director Of Engineering in what remains an ongoing and still mysterious blockchain project, that no one seems to know anything about!
Back in May, Facebook leaked information pertaining to the imminent formation of a task-force that would be 100% focused on investigating the potential of the blockchain, and figuring out how its incorporation into Facebook could benefit the world’s no.1 social media platform.
Tasked with heading what would be a small but elite team was David Marcus, boss of Messenger. Marcus was soon followed by Instagram’s Vice President of Engineering James Everingham, and Instagram’s Vice President of Product, Kevin Weil. Following that announcement, nothing more was heard about Facebook’s blockchain project – until now.
Who Is Evan Cheng?
Evan Cheng was not one of the more well-known names among the immediate Facebook hierarchy, so when the news broke on Saturday that he had been promoted to Director of Engineering for Facebook’s as of yet unspecified blockchain project, the question on most people’s lips was “Evan who?”
According to his LinkedIn page, Evan Cheng speaks English and Chinese, attended the University of Syracuse and Marietta College, obtaining Bachelor of Science and Master’s degrees in computer science and mathematics.
Cheng worked for Apple from 2011 to 2015 – when he was recruited by Facebook. During his time with Apple, Cheng spent two years (2011-2013) as a Senior Manager in the LLVM Backend, was the Senior Manager dealing with Compilation Technologies (2013-2015), and at the time of his move to Facebook, Cheng was the Senior Manager of the Low Level Tools department.
Cheng began work at Facebook is November 2015, and his position at the company was Director of Engineering, Programming Languages and Runtimes. It was a position he held for two years and nine months, until he was “elevated” to the role of Director of Engineering, Blockchain.
LinkedIn likes its members to elaborate a little on each position they have held, just by providing a paragraph or two below the job’s title, briefly outlining what that job entailed. For example, the descriptive text beneath his Apple position of “Senior Manager, Low Level Tools” is described thus:
“Third level manager overseeing 7 engineering teams
Overseeing efforts in static and runtime compilation for both CPUs and GPUs, Swift performance, static and dynamic linker, shared cache optimizations, debugger, bitcode tooling
Collaborating on HW transitioning plans, simulation tool for early GPU architecture exploration, build & integration tools, App Store tools, security hardening
Bootstrapping new “engineering effectiveness” initiative.”
Interestingly, beneath his new role as “Facebook’s Director of Engineering – Blockchain” there is no descriptive text whatsoever. Nothing but blank space.
What Is Facebook’s Blockchain Project’s Objective?
Back in May, when Mark Zuckerberg first put together a team to investigate the blockchain, his actions were seen by many as a knee-jerk reaction to the Cambridge Analytica scandal which had rocked Facebook to its core and resulted in Zuckerberg himself having to appear before the US Senate. Blockchain technology is lauded for two factors in particular – its high level of security, and its capacity for handling vast numbers of transactions easily and speedily, two factors which Facebook would surely be interested in.
There had also been rumors that Facebook were planning on launching their own cryptocurrency. When Facebook promptly banned the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum from its pages back in January, some believed that was a clear indication that they were planning to launch their own token, and so wanted to disrupt the crypto market.
Yet another theory – this one more plausible and logical and makes financial sense – is that Facebook are planning on creating their own cryptocurrency exchange platform, similar to Binance.
Earlier this year in a Facebook post Zuckerberg said that he was determined to spend time studying cryptocurrency, and that it was a “personal challenge” to do so. Zuckerberg wanted to do this because in his opinion centralization and centralized systems were a key problem. He wished to study the technology behind crypto in order to accelerate decentralization and “put more power in people’s hands.”
At the time, Zuckerberg said:
“There are important counter-trends to this –like encryption and cryptocurrency — that take power from centralized systems and put it back into people’s hands. But they come with the risk of being harder to control. I’m interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies, and how best to use them in our services.”