Commentary

Will Zuckerberg Save The NFT? Or Did He Miss His Metaverse Window?

This week’s big social media news involved Instagram testing NFTs on its platform, followed by its parent company Meta announcing future plans to do the same.

I watched Instagram head Adam Mosseri explain the company’s pledge to NFT creators and collectors.

I read the transcript from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s conversation with Tom Bilyeu about the integration of blockchain technology and NFTs across Meta’s apps.

Yet, I couldn’t help but think…why?

Have none of Zuck’s people shown him the headlines?

Last Tuesday the Wall Street Journal published an article titled “NFT Sales Are Flatlining.” It highlights the whopping 92% decline in NFT sales since September, along with the 88% decline in active crypto wallets since November.

On Thursday NBC reported that the number of active NFT traders has decreased by half since January––from 1 million to 491,000.

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“The NFT market is collapsing,” stated The Wall Street Journal, citing the recent flood in supply which cripples each NFT’s inherent value. “There are about five NFTs for every buyer.”

At the end of April, 9.2 million NFTs were sold to only 1.8 million people.

Just look at the insane depreciation of the NFT of Jack Dorsey’s first-ever tweet. Crypto entrepreneur Sina Estavi originally purchased the NFT for $2.9 million, then listed it at $48 million in April. It received a bid of just $280.

Ouch.

Still, Zuck believes NFTs are an integral piece of his larger metaverse experiment.

“We're starting building for NFTs not just in our metaverse and Reality Labs work, but also across our family of apps,” Zuckerberg told Bilyeu. “We're going to bring similar functionality to Facebook soon.”

Looking past NFTs as profile pictures or avatars, Zuck explained that these digital collectibles will not only be transferable between all of Meta’s social platforms; they will provide future metaverse users a mode of expression via 3D clothing and accessories.

“What color shirt do you want? Which designer made it? Which creator made it? That’s going to be meaningful. And I think that that needs a whole format for commerce,” said Zuck. “NFTs are going to be a really important part of that.”

Zuck went on to explain that by integrating NFTs into Meta’s apps, its billions of global users will become comfortable with this newish technology before diving headfirst into Zuck’s future metaverse.

“For the foreseeable future, there are going to be a lot more people using things like Instagram and Facebook on their phones than using VR or augmented reality glasses,” he told Bilyeu. “Maybe by the end of the decade, that starts to shift, but you have eight years until that. So, [we’re investing] in order to help establish some of this infrastructure so that way more people get used to seeing it [and] to interacting with it.”

But with other major platforms like Twitter launching NFT accessibility back in January, Zuck’s use of “early” is somewhat misleading. Is time actually running out?

It’s difficult to say whether Zuck will rejuvenate the worth of NFTs through app-integration. Or whether they’ll be extinct and worthless before the metaverse becomes real enough for users to truly use them as a leading technology.

There’s also the question of how everyday Instagram and Facebook users will react to new NFT features thrown at them.

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