The FAANG Gang Enters the NFT Arena: Early September Edition
NFT Entrepreneur is Back!
Circus Arena by Free-Photos via Pixabay
It's September. I can't keep pretending I'm still coming back from vacation, can I?
I've decided that I'll start doing shorter and more frequent posts after the somewhat lengthy post below. That will enable me to get back to regular posting at NFT Entrepreneur.
In my last newsletter, I talked about some bad luck with a writing situation but that feels far behind me now.
I'm also now writing a biweekly column, The NFT Creator, for NFTs WTF. The concept is to connect the Creator Economy and NFT Land with insights of use to NFT creators from people who know what they're talking about.
In addition, I had a huge stroke of luck. In the early days of Chromie Squiggles, I claimed one using the CryptoArtNet wallet and cashed out at the beginning of the recent boom for 9 ETH. I would probably get more now that they've gone even nuttier but I'm good with that.
Part of the windfall is going to a part-time position for me, CryptoArtNet founder and sole worker, through the end of the year. Combined with freelance writing, that finally puts me in the NFT space full-time!
So things are looking good and I'm back to my favorite project, NFT Entrepreneur.
The FAANG Gang Enters the NFT Arena: Early September Edition
I wrote Part 1 of what was intended to be a series and then disappeared for a minute. It's worth a look but things are moving so fast that the landscape has changed quite a bit.
Here's my current take on FAANG companies and NFTs.
Facebook and Instagram
Instagram is a good fit for NFTs and still a likely entry point for Facebook because, after Twitter, it's the social media site where you're most likely to find crypto artists. Though it hasn't been talking publicly about NFTs, Alessandro Paluzzi has been dropping a series of links claiming to show that Instagram is, in fact, working on an NFT Collectibles option. More here and here.
Of course, any site with an ecommerce feature could eventually add NFTs. For example, creator merch service Spring and NFT "solutions provider" Bondly announced a partnership in which Bondly would provide the backend for Spring to sell NFTs. Bondly is one of the ecommerce options on Instagram so I thought that was going to be the start of NFTs on Instagram as you can see in my Part 1 post.
But there hasn't been any further news on Spring and Bondly and the official tidbits of possibilities from Instagram, discussed in Part 1, have gone quiet. Which is unfortunate given that Instagram and Spring are partnering on a $1 billion creator fund.
So third-party ecommerce remains a possible route for NFTs into the Facebook/Instagram world. What's interesting is that the focus is totally on influencers. Given that many crypto artists seem to have hostile feelings towards Facebook and Instagram, they might be left out of the discussion.
The second route?
Facebook's Novi crypto wallet is considering including NFTs but it may not launch till the Diem stablecoin launches. That seems more direct in one sense but Diem is now an independent project and if it's still trying to get government buy-in on a broad scale, it could have a very long road ahead.
Amazon and AWS
Amazon is looking for a Digital Currency and Blockchain Product Lead but that's mostly about payments. Some people get very excited about that kind of news for good reason but I tend to be underwhelmed when I hear that a payment solution is going to be used for payments. That does cause me to downplay important crypto payment news but there it is.
What a lot of people don't seem to realize is that AWS, Amazon's cloud monster, has had an Amazon Managed Blockchain service for quite a while. AWS started adding support for the Ethereum blockchain late last year and made it broadly available in March.
In February, Origin announced that its Dshop decentralized ecommerce solution would be available via the AWS marketplace. As an AWS blog post buries at the end of its general discussion of "How to Create and Sell Non-Fungible Tokens," one can sell NFTs using Dshop but AWS doesn't seem to be promoting that option as visibly as does Google Cloud (see below).
I did see a job listing for Principal Product Manager AWS Sports that mentioned NFTs but failed to screenshot it and the link is dead. The LinkedIn profile for Mahendra Bairagi, who appears to have gotten the job, does not mention NFTs.
Before all the above, folks were setting up IPFS nodes using AWS. Here's an interesting comparison of IPFS and AWS as a file serving solution which doesn't include the use of AWS for IPFS nodes. I think that's a bit under the radar.
Now other companies, such as CasperLabs, which provides services to NFT platform WISeKey, are joining the AWS marketplace. There's probably a lot more going on than I've teased out to date.
Amazon's deeper in the game via AWS than most people seem to realize. But the same could be said for Google Cloud which appears to be offering all the same services and maybe a bit more.
Apple and the iPad
Apple seems the least involved with NFTs of any of the FAANG companies yet it seems like every crypto artists that can afford an iPad, has an iPad. I got an iPad for that reason even though I've minted very few NFTs and most of the pieces I'm working on don't require one. But it will open up the possibilities for future projects I have planned.
Because of that, the App Store probably gets some sales as well. Procreate is the digital art app I see most often recommended by crypto artists. But the needs of crypto artists are essentially the needs of digital artists and digital art is a much bigger area of activity than NFT art.
However, at some point NFT creation mobile phone apps like S!NG will mature and the iPhone will become a major player in mainstream NFT creation. Here's a walk-through of creating NFTs using S!NG. My only concern is whether or not Web 3 devs truly understand the deluge of content that is about to be unleashed.
Async Art, a truly innovative NFT platform, created an app for Apple TVs to display crypto art. So Apple is supporting NFT Land regardless of its apparent lack of interest.
Apple execs are getting into NFTs which might help set the stage for Apple's official entry. S!NG's CEO is Geoff Osler whose rich tech background includes a stint at Apple. And Eddy Cue joined the board of Autograph, Tom Brady's celeb NFT platform.
Honestly, I'm not sure how Apple would get further into NFTs but it's clearly an important company for NFT creators for the iPad alone.
Netflix and NFTs
Netflix has a clear route into NFT Land and has taken its first steps. These steps come in the context of movie and tv industry's slowly warming embrace of NFTs. And NFTs are a perfect fit for these industries. They have content. They have celebs. They have distribution platforms. And they have a lot of 3d modelers, animators and FX artists who are making NFTs, especially on Foundation.
Netflix could take the lead in this development if they wished. Many of the NFT use cases being put forth for the film and tv industries are trying to solve various industry issues such as funding and distribution. But NFTs as art and media are here, they're profitable and Netflix could start with its own media properties and then sell NFTs for other properties that they stream.
In fact, for its true crime docuseries This Is A Robbery, Netflix commissioned thirteen artists to create NFTs which they sold via KnownOrigin. It appears to have been an experiment that hasn't led to full-scale commitment but that's how a lot of things get started in corporate settings.
Tejas Chopra, Senior Software Engineer at Netflix, is clearly an advocate with NFTs included on his Twitter bio as a public speaking topic. He's quite active in that role and at least two recent appearances focused on NFTs, one at The Conference.NFT and the other at Digital Summit 2021. I'd love to see him do more!
There are a couple of other Netflix developments worth considering that do not currently involve NFTs but show promise for the future. The strongest of these is Netflix.shop, its beautifully done merch shop. It's easy to see the potential for high quality NFT collectibles and art in this shop.
It's part of the domain of Josh Simon, VP Consumer Products, and here's more on Netflix.shop and Mr. Simon. Hey, wouldn't it be cool to see Tejas Chopra and Josh Simon in dialogue at a major NFT conference? Somebody should make that happen!
Let me close with a comment on Netflix Drive. I don't have the technical knowledge to say but a project described as a "Cloud drive for media assets" sure seems potentially relevant to NFTs given AWS and Google Cloud's emerging infrastructure roles.
Google and Google Cloud
Google's association with NFTs is primarily as an indicator of the popularity of NFTs based on Google searches for NFT. The biggest problem with that media approach is that once somebody searches for NFT, future searches are likely to be more refined. Therefore searches for NFT are more an indicator of interest from newcomers rather than of overall interest in NFTs.
I use Google search constantly for NFT news and business-related searches but never enter NFT unless I want to see who's ranking for that keyword. I also use its reverse search engine for checking to see if an NFT is based on a stolen image though it doesn't really do a good job of finding images on NFT platforms. As a search engine, Google's definitely a force in NFT Land.
That said, Google is like Amazon in that their direct involvement with NFTs is mostly through their cloud services rather than their primary consumer-facing sites. In addition, most of the articles linked above about AWS and blockchain services have mirror image versions about Google Cloud.
However, Google Cloud is helping Polygon analyze its blockchain data and I haven't found an equivalent on AWS. Obviously Polygon is increasingly important to NFT platforms.
Perhaps more to the point, Google Cloud added Origin's Dshop earlier than AWS and promoted Dshop as an NFT sales solution much more visibly than did AWS. Its pr outreach also resulted in a clearer message about support for NFTs.
That's not to say Google Cloud's actually doing more with NFTs than AWS but we're still in a phase where a visible embrace of NFTs means something.
No, Twitter's not in the FAANG Gang and I should never have given it so much attention in Part 1 since it is the least likely major social media company to do anything productive in the space.
Why? Cause Jack's a Bitcoin maximalist and he's willing to walk by huge piles of money to prove he's right even when he's obviously wrong.
Thanks for reading NFT Entrepreneur. I appreciate you!
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