Tech media is looking hard this morning at a recent trip by “the Zuck” himself to reassure U.S. lawmakers that his company is not too big for the competitive landscape.
Zuckerberg reportedly met with legislators as well as the U.S. president, apparently hoping that the power of his in-person charm would sway many of the critics who’ve been leery of Facebook’s new Libra stablecoin initiative. This trip took place despite the fact, pointed out by onlookers, that Mark Zuckerberg could have easily sent representatives to make the case in his stead.
As we’ve reported widely here, many state officials around the world are critical of Libra’s development, suggesting that it could harm sovereign markets. Francis Bruno Le Maire has been an outspoken critic – but so has the president, at least in the form of needling tweets.
“If Facebook and other companies want to become a bank, they must seek a new Banking Charter and become subject to all Banking Regulations, just like other Banks,” thumbed the Donald July 11, sparking all sorts of speculation about how that could affect crypto markets.
A Verge story published today shows Zuckerberg shaking hands with Trump, in pictorial chronicling of a private meeting not open to the press, in which one assumes that Zuckerberg simply persuaded the president to stop insulting his company.
We also know from reports that Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) asked Zuckerberg point-blank to sell Instagram and WhatsApp, and that the Facebook founder was not receptive.
Beyond that, the public is in the dark about a lot of these meetings, but one thing we know is that Facebook will try to work current affairs to its favor in whatever way is possible.
The Verge prominent tech reporter Casey Newton suggests that Zuckerberg has “built a large policy, communications, and lobbying apparatus,” as the writer sets up a theoretical “if he were you” scenario describing in detail the situation that Zuckerberg finds himself in today:
“You are the founder and CEO of a vast social network that has recently come under scrutiny from governments around the world. Your company is incredibly successful, but lately members of various congresses and parliaments have begun wondering aloud whether it is actually too successful. Political parties who once cheered you as a job creator are now musing aloud about chopping you up for parts. You are paranoid — because you believe only the paranoid survive … you are the face of the company, and people expect you to show up and make the case for your company in person.”
Part of the ongoing debate and controversy center around the fundamental function of digital assets like Bitcoin or Libra – how they interact with fiat money, and how national economies can handle them – or how they may grow out of proportion and harm business as usual.
Expect more Facebook lobbying, and keep an eye out for concrete news about whether Libra is moving forward or stalling out.