Hi all, Julie here.
Before I forget, don’t miss our Twitter Spaces tonight with Charley Ma and Charles Birnbaum at 8ET! We’ll be talking all things DeFi and traditional finance.
Ok back to business. The big news of the day is Meta getting into the NFT space. And then just before I was about to publish this piece, Twitter announced it’s getting into this space (a little) as well. Let's talk about it.
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The Financial Times had the big Facebook scoop that you can read here. From the article:
“Meta is working on plans to allow users to create and sell non-fungible tokens as Facebook’s parent company seeks to join the rush of companies trying to capitalize on the digital collectible craze. Teams at Facebook and Instagram are readying a feature that will allow users to display their NFTs on their social media profiles, as well as working on a prototype to help users create — or mint — the collectible tokens, according to several people familiar with the matter. Two of the people said that Meta has also discussed launching a marketplace for users to buy and sell NFTs — essentially a digital asset representing art or imagery that cannot be replicated.”
While this news isn’t surprising at all (Zuck even hinted at it last year when he announced Facebook’s name change), I quickly picked up my phone to start calling and texting folks for their thoughts. Some people were bullish on the project, and others were bearish (love it when my friends make a market…no pun intended). Here's what they said:
- Facebook’s marketplace is MASSIVE. Just check out Lenny’s piece from a few days ago. The distribution that Facebook already has is huge, so it can easily get this in front of a lot of people. That could be a great onramp to get new people interested and legitimize NFTs. If that does happen, the question will become whether or not people decide to use Facebook or go to something like OpenSea or Coinbase instead.
- Web3 is not a zero sum game. There is plenty of room for Facebook to compete with the current leaders like OpenSea (and likely Coinbase in the near future).
- Regulation: One of the biggest hurdles will likely be in the regulatory space. DC isn’t very fond of Facebook, so anytime it tries to do something new, they raise their eyebrows. “I'm very curious to see how regulators respond,” Charley Ma said when I messaged him this morning. “Historically, anything that combined facebook/ meta with crypto+defi meant a regulatory target on them.”
- Pivoting is hard: Another was that companies have tried to pivot and/or enter new markets before without success. Barnes and Nobles tried to do ecommerce, Blockbuster tried to do streaming. However, fintech in general has been amazing at the whole unbundling to rebundle thing and has demonstrated that pivoting and adding new products can work. It’s all about the execution.
- Decentralization: And in true crypto fashion, some folks pointed out that Web3 creators of today are not going to accepta solution that is centralized. We don’t know the details of what this project at Facebook will look like quite yet, but industry insiders will be looking to see what they do to see if the devil is in the details.
- No one wants their grandma or great aunt asking about NFTs.
What Does This Mean For OpenSea and Coinbase?
So full disclosure, I own 2 shares of Coinbase (I know it’s small, but we like transparency). I’m torn on whether this is good or bad for these two firms. I lean positive, but I see reasons for it to be negative too. For one, even though Facebook Marketplace is huge, I’ve used it before and I’d have zero desire to go sell an NFT on there. However, I wouldn’t be opposed to putting one on Instagram. The true crypto believers though are going to want to make sure that all of this isn’t owned by a centralized body but rather the broader community. That would be pretty different from what we’re used to seeing from Facebook.
I’d also keep in mind that Facebook and Twitter are far from the only Web2 companies that will be exploring this. Shopify has a job posting for a role in this space, for instance.
So I think the “Web3 isn’t a zero sum game” theme is gonna play a big role here. If Web2 companies getting in on the action makes the space that much larger, and the current leaders in Web3 continue to innovate and have best in class products, Web3 wins.
One other thing I wanna dive into in another piece is the possible implications of these companies getting access to people’s crypto wallets. If you have thoughts on this, you know how to reach me ;)