Unfortunately, It Looks Like NFT’s Aren’t Going Anywhere

Unfortunately, It Looks Like NFT’s Aren’t Going Anywhere
Photo: Timothy A. Clary, Getty Images

Depending on who you ask, NFT’s might be a weird cosmic joke or an ecological disaster waiting to happen — but neither is stopping major platforms from hopping on the non-fungible bandwagon themselves. The latest social media giant on that list seems to be Reddit, according to a fresh job posting first spotted by Insider that suggests the so-called “front page of the internet” is gearing up to launch an NFT marketplace of its very own.

“In case you haven’t heard, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are the newest, most explosive movement in the world of crypto,” reads the still-posted job listing for a “Senior Backend Engineer” to build out Reddit’s nascent NFT platform. “For many, it’s a way to support their favourite artists, and for others it’s a way to curate impressive collections of ultra-rare collectibles. Just as cryptocurrencies are set to revolutionise the world of economics and finance, NFTs are going to rewrite how we think about digital goods.”

Among other responsibilities, the engineer that Reddit taps for this role will be tasked with designing and building a backend service “for millions of users to create, buy, sell and use NFT-backed digital goods.” While that kind of setup would pit Reddit against other marketplace players in the non-fungible token space, like Opensea and Binance, other social media players are looking for other ways to tackle NFT’s. Twitter, for example, is apparently working on a profile tab for “Collectables,” which would let users show off their exorbitantly priced digital doodads.

According to a post from reverse engineer extraordinaire Jane Manchun Wong this past weekend, Twitter is also working in a tab that would give you some extra deets about each NFT; the description, the “artist,” the collection it’s a part of (if any), and more. From the screenshots Wong posted, it seems like the NFT tab would find a home at the top of people’s profile page, alongside other new features like Twitter’s new Tip Jars. (It’s worth keeping in mind that platforms test out all kinds of things that never see a full rollout.)

Like some of Twitter’s recent product rollouts, Reddit’s creep into NFT-dom feels a bit like a desperate grab from a platform that’s long struggled to suck out some of the online ad revenue from the Facebook/Google duopoly. Reddit’s issues with courting advertisers are nothing new, but the company’s only just started to offer big brands (and their big-brand bucks) certain tools to keep their content from running alongside its platform’s most toxic content. In fact, Reddit actually took a step backward on the brand-friendly front when it announced last month that it would be wedging ads in between people’s conversation threads. Perhaps uncoincidentally, Twitter announced it would be doing the same earlier this month — a move that we pointed out would be sure to tick off advertisers and Twitter users alike.

Unlike Twitter, though, Reddit also needs to worry about a forthcoming IPO, which means it’s going to try to raise lots and lots (and lots) of capital. And if it can’t hack the digital ad market, maybe it can crack the NFT market instead.

“If there is one thing we’ve noticed with NFTs, they too have an incredible power to create a sense of participation and belonging,” Reddit wrote in its job listing.

“Fans of today’s biggest creators and brands are now flocking to buy digital goods directly from them — to support them, to gain exclusive access, and to feel a greater sense of connection with them,” Reddit went on. “Over time, we believe this will only grow, and NFTs will play a central role in how fans support their favourite creators and communities.”

Considering how Facebook also monopolizes giant chunks of the creator economy (via Instagram), Reddit will have its work cut out for it cornering that market as well. Best of luck, I guess!!