Libra Co-Creator Still Has Regulatory 'PTSD' From Her Time at Facebook

To change global payment rails, "you probably need to be a cowboy if you're a startup," Morgen Beller said.

May 26, 2021 at 7:43 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 1:02 p.m. UTC

Morgen Beller says dealing with regulators while working on Facebook's controversial Libra project still reverberates. 

“I think I have some PTSD and regulatory scars," Beller, who is now general partner at the venture fund NFX, said during a session at Consensus 2021, speaking alongside representatives of Visa, the Dash cryptocurrency and Terraform Labs.  

Beller is credited as a co-creator of the Libra project, a cryptocurrency envisioned by the social network as a global payments rails. Its grand vision went out with a whimper in April 2020.

Formerly known as a crypto project, her project has devolved into a fintech play now known as diem

Facebook met enormous resistance at home and from global regulators who believed its plan could significantly undermine the monetary system built by nation-states.

“You probably need to be a cowboy if you’re a startup – not coming from Facebook –  to break down those barriers,” she said. 

As an investor, Beller says she talks to much smaller companies and gets flashbacks to her Facebook days when they sketch out their visions. 

"Now when I’m speaking to founders, sometimes my sirens are going off,” she said, because she can see how regulators might react to what they are trying to do.

Beller is looking for projects that solve the real needs of users rather than adhering to a deeper crypto ideology or requiring people to grasp blockchains 100% to use their solutions. "You can’t expect non-crypto users to learn what blockchain is," she said.

She said most people don't know how the internet itself or even their automobiles work, they just look for tools to do things they need done. 

For now, fiat solves most people's financial problems, she said. Her fund's name, NFX, stands for "network effects," she explained.

"Fiat money, great network effects," she said. “Those network effects will provide moats for fiat currencies for a long time. Change is hard.”

Regulators, she said, have gotten wise to cryptocurrencies, making it harder for new projects to skate by them, as Bitcoin and Ethereum did.

“I refer to Bitcoin and Ethereum as the immaculate conception coins," she said. “If the U.S. government did want to kill bitcoin, they can’t. They can make it hard for Americans to use bitcoin, but they can’t kill it.”

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