Meta is shuttering its non-fungible token (NFT) sales feature on Facebook and Instagram, its head of commerce and financial technologies, Stephane Kasriel, said on Twitter yesterday (March 13). The company is also laying off 10,000 staff members, 12 percent of its workforce, and canceling other “lower priority projects,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees today.
Meta previously cut 11,000 workers, its biggest layoff in company history, in November. With the closure of its NFT sales, Meta intends to “focus on other ways to support creators, people, and businesses,” Kasriel said in the statement.
While Meta seems to be pulling back on some of its more ambitions projects, the metaverse isn’t one of them. Last year, the company lost $13.7 billion on Reality Labs, its metaverse division, an increase from $10.2 billion the year prior. It expects further losses this year. NFTs and cryptocurrencies are intertwined with metaverse technology, and it’s unclear how shuttering the NFT program aligns with Meta’s strategy.
“We learned a ton that we’ll be able to apply to products we’re continuing to build…on our apps, both today and in the metaverse,” Kasriel said on Twitter.
A failed experiment selling NFTs
Meta’s launched its NFT sales project last May and expanded it globally in August. Users could buy and sell NFTs and post them on Instagram and Facebook. The company intended for the tokens to be an additional revenue stream for creators, it said in a statement published last year. But its cancellation suggests Facebook and Instagram users have limited interest buying digital collectables.
Elsewhere on social media, Twitter supports NFTs as profile pictures, but it is unclear how many users have purchased the tokens. Reddit’s NFT platform has found success among its primarily young, male, U.S.-based audience. More than 7 million wallets hold NFTs in Reddit’s platform, up from 4 million in December, according to Dune, a crypto data company.
Meta previously tried to launch a cryptocurrency in 2020 called Libra, later renamed Diem, but abandoned the project after years of pushback from U.S. and foreign regulators. It sold its assets to Silvergate, a now-shuttered crypto bank, in January 2022.