After less than a year, Meta is doing away with NFTs (And just when “Sesame Street" finally gets involved? Variety reports that Sesame Workshop is launching a collection of Cookie Monster NFTs priced at $60 each.)
According to a series of tweets from Meta’s head of commerce and fintech Stephane Kasriel, the tech giant is “winding down digital collectibles (NFTs) for now to focus on other ways to support creators, people, and businesses.”
Kasriel goes on to thank Meta’s partners and the NFT creators still using Instagram and Facebook to amplify their work, deeming the NFT space “dynamic” despite its ongoing lack of success. (It’s been over a year since NFT sales peaked, then collapsed, shedding billions in value.)
The decision to discontinue its investment in NFTs can’t be separated from Meta’s not-so-distant choice to announce the metaverse as the all-encompassing future not only of the company, but of technology and communication and entertainment in general. (Remember when Facebook changed its name to Meta?)
Once upon a time, Meta claimed digital collectibles would be an integral part of the metaverse. Last May, Meta began testing NFTs across Facebook and Instagram, eventually launching full capability to users in late August, right around the time when trading volume on the largest NFT marketplace OpenSea dropped 99%.
Alongside the kaput Meta-backed cryptocurrency Diem and the company’s Novi digital wallet, Zuckerberg’s overall NFT and metaverse plan has likely changed. Or has it?
According to a recent New York Times article, Zuckerberg now has his sights set on leading the generative-AI boom. He will use AI to develop more products faster, then incorporate that technology into the metaverse. The so-called metaverse, according to the company’s chief AI scientist, is where people will need generative tools to create virtual items (or digital collectibles).
Full circle, right back to NFTs. But when and how will a bridge between both dreams come true? No one is quite sure. I have to admit, it would be incredible to see a company that has lost so much money (and credibility) in the past year actually end up leading both generative AI development and some type of metaverse future.
But so much remains unclear.