Meta winds down NFTs but will continue token efforts

Meta has decided non-fungible tokens (NFTs) don’t have a future, and will wind down its efforts to support them.

“Across the company, we’re looking closely at what we prioritize to increase our focus,” Meta’s boss of Commerce & FinTech Stephane Kasriel tweeted on Monday. “We’re winding down digital collectibles (NFTs) for now to focus on other ways to support creators, people, and businesses.”

NFTs are crypto-adjacent digital certificates of ownership for digital goods, stored on a blockchain, and were So Hot Right Now in early 2021 when auction house Christie’s found someone willing to part with $69 million for a digital artwork codified with the tokenized tech.

A boom/bubble for NFTs swiftly formed after that sale, with collections of gaudy artworks created by machines or hitherto unknown artists suddenly attracting colossal valuations.

As things settled down it emerged that some high-priced NFTs had been paid for in cryptocurrency – making their real-world worth somewhat hypothetical. Secondary markets then sputtered as few buyers saw upside in acquiring the ownership rights to digital art that could still be copied and distributed infinitely, regardless of whether one owned the NFT.

The entire crypto sector has also experienced numerous setbacks in recent times. Between the seemingly endless hacks and cracks of crypto companies, the collapse of the TerraUSD stablecoin, North Korea’s hits on crypto to fund its war machine and the sudden implosion of FTX, crypto has lost plenty of luster.

Investors have decidedly soured on both cryptocurrency and crypto-adjacent offerings like NFTs.

Meta has a couple of billion users – many of them proven to be gullible – but Kasriel clearly thinks not enough of them can be coaxed into the NFT game to make it worth continuing.

Thus ends Meta’s NFT experiment, which was announced in May 2022.

All is not lost.

“We learned a ton that we’ll be able to apply to products we’re continuing to build to support creators, people, and businesses on our apps, both today and in the metaverse,” he added, before stating that the end of Meta’s NFTs does not mean an end to attempts at helping users turn a quid on Facebook or Instagram.

“Reels” is Meta’s attempt at a TikTok clone – launched because the made-in-China app has lured audiences and advertisers away from Facebook and Instagram. Competition from TikTok and other social networks, a tough economic climate, and privacy changes Apple made to its iOS operating system, have taken a collective multi-billion-dollar bite out of Meta’s revenue.

Zuckerberg’s Folly has responded with a plan for a “Year of Efficiency” and thousands of layoffs, plus a plan to offer paid accounts to “creators” – folks who make a living posting stuff to its platforms.

Those would presumably be the very same creators Kasriel said will benefit from whatever Meta does with the remnants of its token NFT efforts. ®