PayPal chief joins Facebook to strengthen mobile messaging

Facebook is looking to build new messaging experiences for its apps

David Marcus, formerly PayPal's president, now head of mobile messaging at Facebook.
David Marcus, formerly PayPal's president, now head of mobile messaging at Facebook.

A stronger set of features, possibly including payments, might be coming to Facebook's messaging properties now that former PayPal president David Marcus has come to work for the social network.

Both Facebook and eBay, which owns PayPal, said Monday that Marcus, who headed PayPal's mobile payments, would be joining Facebook as head of mobile messaging. eBay did not say who would be replacing him at PayPal.

Facebook's hiring of Marcus represents a serious investment by the company to strengthen its messaging software. Facebook did not say what improvements specifically might be coming, but it's clear the company is looking to further expand the use of its messaging apps, and maybe introduce monetization features.

"We're excited by the potential to continue developing great new messaging experiences that better serve the Facebook community and reach even more people, and David will be leading these efforts," Facebook said in its announcement.

Messaging has grown to become an important part of Facebook's service. Some 12 billion messages are sent through Facebook daily, according to the company. Messenger, Facebook's standalone messaging app, is also used now by more than 200 million people every month -- just under one-fifth of Facebook's total user base.

Not all of those people are going there by choice. In April, Facebook said it was stripping messages from its iOS and Android apps, forcing users instead to install the Messenger app.

With Marcus, Facebook might be looking to make Messenger more of a go-to destination.

And, if Facebook wants to get more money flowing through the app, hiring Marcus seems to be a smart move. "As the head of PayPal, David helped to make a great business better, reinvigorating product design and innovation and energizing the team to deliver compelling consumer experiences," said eBay President and CEO John Donahoe.

"I'm looking forward to getting my hands dirty again attempting to build something new and meaningful at scale," Marcus said in a LinkedIn post.

Facebook is becoming more active in mobile messaging with other apps, too, having recently purchased WhatsApp, and it also has a new photo messaging app coming. But Marcus will be responsible only for building and scaling Messenger, a Facebook spokeswoman said.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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