NFTs are all the rage now and they’re about to revolutionize everything from music to AI to elections — at least this was the talk of the town a year ago. Now, the NFT scene is mostly crickets, the hype has steadily dwindled down, and success stories are isolated. Now, the latest hit in the NFT world is that Meta will be “winding down” its work with NFTs on Facebook and Instagram.
The news was broken by Stephane Kasriel on Twitter. Kasriel is the head of Commerce and Financial Technologies at Meta, so he oversees all commerce and fintech work across Meta’s technologies and platforms — if there’s anything happening with NFTs on Meta, he should know. In the Twitter thread, Kasriel mentioned that Meta will end its tests with minting and selling NFTs on Instagram and Facebook. The information was corroborated by TheVerge, who reached out to a Meta spokesperson.
“Some product news: across the company, we’re looking closely at what we prioritize to increase our focus. We’re winding down digital collectibles (NFTs) for now to focus on other ways to support creators, people, and businesses,” Kasriel wrote. Kasriel also mentioned that he is “proud of the relationships we built” and is looking “forward to supporting the many NFT creators who continue using Instagram and Facebook to amplify their work.”
The move is in line with Meta’s cuts — from staff cuts to various project cuts, Meta’s year has been all about cutting costs. A whopping 11,000 employees (13% of the company’s entire workforce) were laid off, and the Metaverse, the company’s alleged flagship project, is already on very shaky ground. So overall, Meta seems to be trying to weather the storm and cutting costs where it can.
However, this could have implications for the Metaverse as well: NFTs and the Metaverse seemed like a good fit, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg once saying that he hopes people will mint virtual clothing and other virtual meta-things as NFTs.
The move also comes at a delicate time for social media. The number of Facebook users seems to be declining for the first time, and while Instagram statistics look a bit better, it too is being threatened by TikTok. In addition, a recent survey showed that Americans want to delete Instagram more than any other app.
But even as Meta seems to take its foot off the NFT pedal, other companies seem eager to step in. The NFT market still had its many and strong supporters, who believe that the 2022 collapse of NFT is simply a result of previous overhype — but the technology is still there and is still promising. For instance, Reddit and Starbucks are just two of the companies where NFTs still have a role to play, albeit not a central one. Meta reportedly told TechCrunch that the company will still continue keeping an eye on crypto for the long term.
As for Instagram, the social network announced another significant move, ending its program that paid creators to produce Reels. After heavily investing in short-form video content (Reels are Instagram’s reaction to TikTok, essentially), Instagram seems to be slowing down. The social network incentivized creators to produce content, often offering generous sums. Zuckerberg explained the measure by saying Reels simply aren’t that profitable.
“The next bottleneck that we are focused on to continue growing Reels is improving monetization efficiency or the revenue that’s generated per minute of Reels watched. Currently, the monetization efficiency of Reels is much less than Feed. So the more that Reels grows, even though it adds engagement to the system overall, it takes some time away from Feed and we actually lose money,” he said.
No doubt, Meta, and all social media, is entering a new, less expansive stage.