Less than a year after Meta launched its push to allow users to purchase digital collectibles on Instagram and Facebook, the company has decided to stop supporting new and existing digital collectibles.
This decision is part of Meta’s efforts to streamline its operations, including the upcoming 10,000 layoffs after last November’s cut and discontinuation of various projects, as reported by The New York Times. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has referred to these steps as the company’s “year of efficiency.”
Stephane Kasriel, Meta’s Head of Commerce and Financial Technologies, said on Twitter that the company would focus on developing other ways to support creators, people and businesses, drawing on the lessons learned from their NFT venture. Specifically, Meta will concentrate on creating monetization opportunities for Reels and implementing messaging payments across Meta.
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. 🧵[1/5]
— Stephane Kasriel (@skasriel) March 13, 2023
In the same Twitter thread, Kasriel also highlighted the importance of Meta Pay, the firm’s payment platform, which could potentially support cryptocurrencies in the future, according to trademark filings from May. Meta will prioritize building payment rails and other features to help creators and businesses monetize their content on its platform.
Kasriel did not provide a specific reason for why Meta is changing its stance on NFTs, despite earlier comments by Zuckerberg suggesting their potential use in the metaverse. In a previous appearance at SXSW, Zuckerberg had envisioned users being able to mint clothing items worn by their avatars as NFTs, allowing them to be transferred between virtual worlds.
However, the decision to end NFT support is one of many initiatives to be scaled back in the past year. Meta has also shut down Novi, its cryptocurrency wallet rumored to have NFT functionality in development. Additionally, the company has discontinued several projects under its metaverse division, Reality Labs and its program for rewarding Reels creators.
Although Meta has decided to stop supporting NFTs, other companies are moving forward with this technology, even though the market declined significantly in 2022, losing billions of dollars after experiencing hype in early 2021.
For example, Reddit is promoting its NFT “digital collectible” avatars, and Starbucks recently sold out 2,000 NFTs, valued at $100 each, through its Odyssey customer loyalty program. Sesame Street has also announced an NFT collaboration, indicating that some companies still see potential in this technology.
Strong criticism from crypto community
The crypto community has strongly criticized Meta’s decision to end its support for NFTs. Allen Hena, the co-founder of Web3 company Earth Labs, went as far as to say that Meta gave up on NFTs because it recognized that using public crypto networks would prevent the tech giant from exploiting creators.
Hena’s criticism suggests that Meta’s decision may be driven by a desire to maintain control over its platform and monetization strategies rather than a lack of interest in NFTs.
Twitter user Marc C00lcer (33.3%) also expressed disappointment with Meta’s decision to end its support for NFTs and questioned why the company went down that road. He criticized the company for lacking long-term thinking and falling behind the times.
Would love some transparency as to why this decision was made. Seems short sighted for a company that’s supposed to be thinking long term. Very disappointing to see Meta fall behind the times.
Facebook is outdated and Instagram is set on the same course. Hope you decide to… https://t.co/KwIR5RGhQ6
— Marc C00lcer (33.3%) (@marccolcer) March 13, 2023
More layoffs ahead
Other than revealing that it is discontinuing its support for NFTs on Facebook and Instagram, Meta is planning to lay off an additional 10,000 employees, according to multiple reports. In November, the company laid off approximately 11,000 employees, around 13 percent of its workforce.
— Forbes (@Forbes) March 14, 2023
Over the course of four months, Meta has let go a total of 21,000 employees. Zuckerberg recently released a lengthy Facebook post regarding the latest layoffs, revealing that another wave would happen as early as this week. In addition to the layoffs, Meta will stop hiring for roughly 5,000 vacant positions it has yet to fill.
Following the company’s restructuring, expected to conclude in May, Zuckerberg said Meta would lift its hiring freeze and transfer restrictions. He attributed the layoffs to disappointing revenue growth in the previous year.