The FAANG Gang Enters the NFT Arena: Part 1 - Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
NFT News Without the Hype!
My sincere apologies for the gap in newsletters. I've been negotiating no less than five different writing opportunities and it looks like NFTS WTF is the best fit to date. I'm going on vacation for a few days and then talking more with my editor about what the future might hold. Wish me luck!
To make up for it, I'm writing absolutely everything I know or imagine about how FAANG companies, plus Twitter and eBay, are geting into or might get into NFTs. So much it's already a two-parter. Will it go to three? Stay tuned to find out!
I recently launched NFT News Wire to post significant NFT-related press releases. As with all my NFT-related activities, it is focused primarily on art and media NFTs including collectibles. NFTs will do a lot of things and some of them will be interesting but digital media is why I'm here.
I also started NFT Security, a Twitter feed under the auspices of CryptoArtNet. It's going to be a low volume feed focused on news articles about NFT scams and h@cks as well as occasional alerts. It was largely inspired by Twitter discussions with artists as I was doing background work for a piece about recent social engineering and software attacks on crypto artists for NFTS WTF.
One last bit of business, moving forward I'm not sure about what will happen with some of the more in-depth pieces like the NFT Entrepreneur funding reports. They take a heck of a lot of work but haven't gotten the response I'd like to see to keep doing them in such a complete manner. Moving forward such reports will likely be more like the other newsletters, closely focused on a timely theme that hits the high points with some key details. If I was doing this full-time, I'd include them in the mix but, for now, my completist nature must go unrequited.
And now for a topic that I really enjoy thinking and writing about though it does worry me a bit: How will big corporations get involved with NFTs and what might that look like?
The FAANG Gang Enters the NFT Arena: Part 1 - Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
For those of you that got into the game starting with crypto, FAANG is the acronym derived from a group of leading public tech firms that have immense influence on world culture and business: Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google. Of course, Google is now Alphabet but FAANG is just too good to give up!
Each of these companies is already involved with or exposed to NFTs in one form or another but none has yet launched a major NFT initiative. I expect that to change this year but big companies often move quite slowly until they suddenly dive in and squash as many small fry as possible. If you're in the game and only thinking about current pure play competition, it would be well worth your time to think through what it will mean to your business when FAANG and frenemies enter the arena.
Twitter: Bitcoin NFTs
No, Twitter is not a member of the FAANG Gang but it has outsized influence on digital media and gets us started on relevant NFT scenarios while we consider its biggest handicap, Jack. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey did sell his first tweet as an NFT for $2.9 million using Cent's Valuables but that was in response to a bid. He didn’t initiate the process and he's just not that into Ethereum. And the Ethereum blockchain remains the preeminent base for NFT development though that began shifting in earnest this year.
Jack has made it clear that Bitcoin is the only cryptocurrency he takes seriously. After he sold his tweet, he took the ETH, converted it to BTC, and then donated it to GiveDirectly which also accepts ETH. That's hardcore Bitcoin maximalism and helps explain why Twitter has not acquired Valuables which would otherwise be the ideal NFT play for his company.
This situation is particularly weird because Twitter is the de facto social network for the world of NFT art and collectibles. From artists promoting their work, collectors building their brands and companies communicating with their constituents, Twitter is where it's happening. There are also a variety of NFT ads being served though I haven't seen any info on volume.
So Twitter is profiting from NFTs but is unlikely to get in deeper via most current initiatives. However, Jack wants to decentralize Twitter and is working on BlueSky, an open source standard for decentralized media. As part of that work, Jack expects to integrate the Bitcoin Lightning Network into Twitter or BlueSky.
While this move wouldn't bring NFTs to Twitter, the folks at the LNP/BP Standards Association (that's Lightning Network Protocol and Bitcoin Protocol) are working on a related smart contract network called RGB which would enable Bitcoin NFTs. Also worth noting is the recently launched Raretoshi NFT platform that uses the Bitcoin sidechain Liquid Network.
Jack seems likely to be aware of such initiaties so, if NFTs find a stronghold adjacent to the Bitcoin blockchain, that might provide a route into Twitter.
Until then, even though Jack doesn’t care, Twitter's our biggest social network and none of the NFT community startups seem likely to change that anytime soon.
Facebook, the world's largest network of networks, is most likely to get into NFTs via Instagram. That wasn't a tough call when I made it back in April and further evidence has since accumulated.
Like Twitter, NFT creators and companies are active on Facebook and there are ads. Such activity will only increase as NFTs go ever more mainstream. But Instagram's image network has a huge number of NFT artists and is likely second to Twitter based on artist listings at CryptoArtNet. In addition, a number of relatively small news items indicate that Instagram is exploring the territory and that NFTs may have third party routes in as well.
For various reasons a lot of artists have issues with Instagram. When crypto artist Sean Williams was contacted to join a panel and discuss NFTs with "upper level management and the dev team" he felt artists were being lowballed and put Instagram on blast. The comments on his Twitter thread reveal a lot of negative perceptions of both Facebook and Instagram from artists.
Now, to be honest, a lot was read into Williams' statements. For example, Instagram has at no point said they were building an NFT platform. They are, however, diving into the current creator boom and hoping to make Instagram a center for said boom by adding services.
In addition, it's unclear exactly what they were asking Williams to do but, based on the above linked thread, it appears that they were going to pay artists $1000 for a Zoom appearance. That doesn't seem like underpaying to me and an NDA for such a meeting sounds fairly normal.
Instagram: Creator Week
Creator Week was a series of invite-only online events that ran June 8 through 10 and were all about helping creators professionalize and make more money. Williams' public statements led to an "Instagram spokesperson" confirming that an "NFT-focused event" would occur as part of Creator Week.
Prior to Creator Week, Instagram head Adam Mosseri discussed various monetization tools for creators. The writer for The Information said Instagram is “considering a marketplace for NFTs” but it was unclear if that was based on Mosseri’s comments because it was followed with a reference to Williams. Mosseri did state:
”For NFT artists, Instagram is often the platform of choice to showcase their work…I love the idea of us doing more in that space.”
This was as close to an announcement of an NFT marketplace as Instagram ever got.
In fact, from what I've seen of Creator Week scheduling, including posts on Instagram's Creators account and the Instagram Insider Creator Issue, nothing official happened during the week related to NFTs. So, whatever's going on, they're probably being even more secretive and working with known quantities that won't blow their cover.
Also, once news got out that Instagram is officially interested in NFTs with high-level buy in, it seems quite likely that NFT company outreach to Instagram increased substantially from that point forward.
That said, there may be a guerrilla route for NFTs into Instagram which is getting even more serious about ecommerce. In May it launched Shops on Instagram for businesses. During Creators Week it announced a number of monetization options including a "native affiliate tool," which is a great fit for influencers, and shops for creators accessible via their profiles.
The shops for creators program will launch with "four merchandise partners: Bravado/UMG, Fanjoy, Represent, and Spring" though it may not be fully available till the end of the year. None of this mentions NFTs but guess what Spring is working on?
Spring: Instagram and Beyond
Spring is a print-on-demand merch service that used to be called TeeSpring. What's weird is that the Teespring site is still up. When I click through to sign up on Spring it takes me to a TeeSpring page so maybe that's still their backend. I haven't fully figured that part out but back in January Spring launched "fully branded custom stores" and they're going all in on creators.
In May, Spring and Bondly announced a partnership that will bring NFTs to Spring's ecommerce stores. In short, "content creators will use Bondly technology on the Spring platform to create, mint and market NFTs." Bondly's also doing a lot with creators as you can see from its Medium posts.
Spring was already getting into digital products via its ecommerce stores as well as on YouTube via its Merch Shelves product. So NFTs fit in quite nicely. However, there is no launch date so far that I've seen. Who knows? If Instagram is considering Spring as its route into NFTs, then things may stay hush hush for a bit.
Whatever Instagram decides to do, it's pretty clear that Spring would make it possible to sell NFTs on Instagram. Not only that, Spring has integrations of various sorts with YouTube, TikTok, Twitch and Linktree. Plus, Bondly is getting creators on to major NFT platforms including supporting Lewis Capaldi's debut in the first group of creators on Binance NFT.
Spring and Bondly could end up being major players in connecting creators, NFTs and all sorts of social media platforms and NFT marketplaces.
I don't see much about this news in crypto media but I think their partnership and Spring's planned addition of NFTs to its ecommerce stores might be some of the biggest NFT mainstreaming news to date.