• “We have high conviction that we made the right move,” Cheng said
  • Since leaving, the co-founders had “technical breakthroughs” that Cheng says they wouldn’t have had if they stayed at Meta

Fed up by the red tape of Big Tech, four former Facebook employees banded together and created a startup focused on Web3 and blockchain infrastructure. Now, they’re planning to launch a blockchain in the near future. 

The co-founder and CEO of Mysten Labs, Even Cheng, spent the last 16 years at tech companies, namely Apple and Facebook, now known as Meta. 

He and three other ex-Facebook employees — Sam Blackshear, Adeniyi Abiodun and George Danezis — worked together on Meta’s Novi Financial team to help develop the Diem blockchain and Move programming language, a cross-platform smart contract language that helps developers secure against exploits.  

But they felt there were too many restrictions at their previous employer, so they turned to their own devices.

“Some of our dreams couldn’t be realized at Facebook due to regulatory pressure and the company being unable to adopt cutting edge technology aggressively,” Cheng said. “So, we thought about doing a startup because we’ve done work in the space and want to share it.” 

Mysten Labs partnered with 0L Network on Tuesday, an open, permissionless version of Diem’s blockchain, to expand the Move smart contract programming language. 

“We have high conviction that we made the right move,” Cheng said. “We are able to accelerate our development pace by an order of magnitude and make decisions faster as we’re free of the handcuffs that slowed us down.”

The startup was founded in November 2021, and a few months later Diem was sold for $200 million to Silvergate Capital Corp in late January. The firm focuses on building new blockchain infrastructure to scale the Web3 space. 

“We are building our own blockchain that will be comparable to Ethereum, Solana and so on, but we want the capability to go beyond that,” Cheng said. 

The blockchain will be launched in late March and will have a test net, beta net then go to mainnet later this year, he added. The company anticipates developer activity on-chain and building by April or May. 

Since leaving, the co-founders have had “technical breakthroughs” that Cheng says wouldn’t have happened at Meta. “We’re driving toward something concrete and able to come across fundamental solutions, even in a short amount of time,” he said.

Meta was not available for comment Tuesday. 

“A lot of it is continuing the research we started [at Meta] and bringing it to the marketplace,” Cheng said. “We need to overhaul the infrastructure because there’s interesting projects out there that aren’t having their needs met by current blockchain technology.”

Going forward, the company’s focus is on continuing to create solutions for “pain points” in blockchain technology through smart contract developments, utility-focused infrastructure for crypto assets and practical self custody, Cheng said.

“Changes by Web3 will happen sooner than people expect,” Cheng said. “Developers’ eyes light up as they discuss the possibilities with us and that’s tremendous.” 

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  • Jacquelyn Melinek is a New York-based reporter covering funding, decentralized finance (DeFi) and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). She previously reported on energy markets for S&P Global Platts and Bloomberg News and is published in over 65 news outlets. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Media and Journalism. Contact Jacquelyn via email at [email protected]