Mark Zuckerberg: NFTs are coming to Instagram before the metaverse is a thing

We might all be working from VR headsets in a few years if Meta has anything to say about it. But first: NFTs.

Mark Zuckerberg

According to Mark Zuckerberg, the metaverse is coming fast.

Photo: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The metaverse might seem like a far-off concept, but according to Mark Zuckerberg, living life in a headset is only a few years away.

Unfortunately, it sounds like NFTs taking over Instagram will happen much sooner, though Zuckerberg didn't give an exact timeline.


Zuckerberg appeared at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin Tuesday to talk with Shark Tank investor Daymond John about what the metaverse will look like, what people will use it for, when exactly this whole thing will happen and, of course, how Meta fits into it all.

Overall, he believes the metaverse is an endless well of opportunities that's coming faster than you'd think. Here are a few quotes from his SXSW talk that indicate the metaverse roadmap ahead:

"I think on some level the future sort of belongs to the people who believe in it more than others...I just think we care more, you know, I think we're the company that cares about helping people connect."

Meta has taken a lot of heat in the last decade for a whole slew of things — the proliferation of misinformation and its harmful effects on American democracy and the use of its platform to wage violence in other countries is really just the tip of the iceberg. But Meta is plunging ahead, and Zuckerberg's quote about the future might not reassure anyone already concerned about the company's role in creating what may be the next big computing platform.

“I believe that the metaverse is the next chapter of the internet. Just like we had the mobile internet, I think this is going to be the successor to that.”

The metaverse does not currently exist, and it will take years for it to become fully realized, if it ever does. But the Meta CEO fully believes it's happening, and said it won't be a thing that one company can build on its own. Though Meta is working to develop metaverse technologies, he said it’s not actually building the metaverse itself, but rather the “foundational tech” that will enable the metaverse. If the metaverse becomes realized, it will need more companies than just Meta behind it. Zuckerberg mentioned gaming companies like Roblox and chip-makers like Nvidia as key players.

For users, joining the metaverse will be “driven by different things. For some people it'll be games, for some people it'll be productivity. One really interesting one that I've seen recently is fitness.”

Though the early days of virtual reality — or what may turn into the metaverse — have been focused on gaming platforms, such as Roblox and Minecraft, Zuckerberg thinks those use cases will expand. People might join the platform to have a work meeting, with the ability to sit at a virtual table with the ability to whisper something in a colleague's ear — a capability that’s lost in a Zoom call, Zuckerberg said. Some might ditch their Pelotons in favor of a VR boxing class. We've already seen the popularity of VR fitness games like Supernatural (which Meta now owns), so this makes sense.

“You care about the clothing that you wear when you're on video conference. And I think similarly, you're going to care about how you express yourself, in both the avatar and the clothing that you're wearing with that avatar.”

People are going to pay real money to dress their Metaverse avatars in a way that reflects their personalities, Zuckerberg said, much like how you do to buy digital goods in games. This isn't exactly surprising — people have been spending real money (in some cases, a lot of real money) on virtual clothing and other items ever since games became a thing. A virtual world would be no different in that respect.

The metaverse has the potential to “support many, many millions of jobs, with people doing the kind of creative work that they want to, instead of the kinds of jobs that they feel they have to today.”

Meta expects high demand for metaverse experiences, digital objects and yes, swag for your avatar, and Zuckerberg said an entire new economy will be born. Creatives will be able to make money selling their metaverse wares, like virtual clothing and digital art, or by providing services like designing virtual homes. Of course, the blockchain is involved — Zuckerberg said metaverse users will have the ability to mint their virtual assets as NFTs.

In the near term, Zuckerberg also said that NFTs are coming to Instagram in the “next several months,” but didn’t divulge many details.

“My guess is we're probably a few years away from the first thing that really does what you would call augmented reality, and looks like what you would call glasses.”

Virtual reality is finally gaining mainstream popularity, with Meta seeing sales of its Quest 2 headset on the rise. But no one wants to wear a VR headset for work and play all day every day. To that end, Zuckerberg said wearable augmented reality devices like glasses that you can comfortably wear out in public may only be a few years away. The photorealistic avatars designed to represent us all in the metaverse will likely get “better over time," he said.

But "wilder further out stuff” such as remote rendering will require more than just inventing the technology. It will require telecoms across the world to basically deploy all this technology,” an endeavor that could cost hundreds of billions of dollars, he said.

“I don't know, maybe by the end of the decade on that one,” he said.

That's certainly ambitious.

Fintech

Judge Zia Faruqui is trying to teach you crypto, one ‘SNL’ reference at a time

His decisions on major cryptocurrency cases have quoted "The Big Lebowski," "SNL," and "Dr. Strangelove." That’s because he wants you — yes, you — to read them.

The ways Zia Faruqui (right) has weighed on cases that have come before him can give lawyers clues as to what legal frameworks will pass muster.

Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“Cryptocurrency and related software analytics tools are ‘The wave of the future, Dude. One hundred percent electronic.’”

That’s not a quote from "The Big Lebowski" — at least, not directly. It’s a quote from a Washington, D.C., district court memorandum opinion on the role cryptocurrency analytics tools can play in government investigations. The author is Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui.

Keep Reading Show less
Veronica Irwin

Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol covering fintech. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.

The financial technology transformation is driving competition, creating consumer choice, and shaping the future of finance. Hear from seven fintech leaders who are reshaping the future of finance, and join the inaugural Financial Technology Association Fintech Summit to learn more.

Keep Reading Show less
FTA
The Financial Technology Association (FTA) represents industry leaders shaping the future of finance. We champion the power of technology-centered financial services and advocate for the modernization of financial regulation to support inclusion and responsible innovation.
Enterprise

AWS CEO: The cloud isn’t just about technology

As AWS preps for its annual re:Invent conference, Adam Selipsky talks product strategy, support for hybrid environments, and the value of the cloud in uncertain economic times.

Photo: Noah Berger/Getty Images for Amazon Web Services

AWS is gearing up for re:Invent, its annual cloud computing conference where announcements this year are expected to focus on its end-to-end data strategy and delivering new industry-specific services.

It will be the second re:Invent with CEO Adam Selipsky as leader of the industry’s largest cloud provider after his return last year to AWS from data visualization company Tableau Software.

Keep Reading Show less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Image: Protocol

We launched Protocol in February 2020 to cover the evolving power center of tech. It is with deep sadness that just under three years later, we are winding down the publication.

As of today, we will not publish any more stories. All of our newsletters, apart from our flagship, Source Code, will no longer be sent. Source Code will be published and sent for the next few weeks, but it will also close down in December.

Keep Reading Show less
Bennett Richardson

Bennett Richardson ( @bennettrich) is the president of Protocol. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, Bennett was executive director of global strategic partnerships at POLITICO, where he led strategic growth efforts including POLITICO's European expansion in Brussels and POLITICO's creative agency POLITICO Focus during his six years with the company. Prior to POLITICO, Bennett was co-founder and CMO of Hinge, the mobile dating company recently acquired by Match Group. Bennett began his career in digital and social brand marketing working with major brands across tech, energy, and health care at leading marketing and communications agencies including Edelman and GMMB. Bennett is originally from Portland, Maine, and received his bachelor's degree from Colgate University.

Enterprise

Why large enterprises struggle to find suitable platforms for MLops

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, and as larger enterprises go from deploying hundreds of models to thousands and even millions of models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

Photo: artpartner-images via Getty Images

On any given day, Lily AI runs hundreds of machine learning models using computer vision and natural language processing that are customized for its retail and ecommerce clients to make website product recommendations, forecast demand, and plan merchandising. But this spring when the company was in the market for a machine learning operations platform to manage its expanding model roster, it wasn’t easy to find a suitable off-the-shelf system that could handle such a large number of models in deployment while also meeting other criteria.

Some MLops platforms are not well-suited for maintaining even more than 10 machine learning models when it comes to keeping track of data, navigating their user interfaces, or reporting capabilities, Matthew Nokleby, machine learning manager for Lily AI’s product intelligence team, told Protocol earlier this year. “The duct tape starts to show,” he said.

Keep Reading Show less
Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye is an award-winning multimedia reporter digging deep and telling print, digital and audio stories. She covers AI and data for Protocol. Her reporting on AI and tech ethics issues has been published in OneZero, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, CityLab, Ad Age and Digiday and heard on NPR. Kate is the creator of RedTailMedia.org and is the author of "Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media," a book about how the 2008 presidential campaigns used digital media and data.

Latest Stories
Bulletins