Last week, I wrote a bullish memo on TikTok’s future plans in NFTs. I focused on the high volume of TikTok content created, which increases the likelihood of NFT-worthy moments. But I should have analyzed TikTok’s ability to launch a successful NFT project, which matters even more.
TikTok has yet to release the project that was planned for last Wednesday, October 6. And according to Rolling Stone, sources say that the release won’t be coming at all. More from Rolling Stone:
“Poarch, a wildly successful TikTok creator…has been actively contemplating pulling out of the program due to worries about its execution…Three people with knowledge of TikTok’s NFT rollout described it as “a challenge,” “a mess,” and “a complete joke.”
TikTok’s core competency is reducing friction to consume and create engaging content. It solved one of the biggest challenges of social networks—it gives users a constant stream of the best content on the platform without needing to know who to follow. That increases the reach for each post, which makes creators feel more inspired to continue creating.
But TikTok has struggled with its other initiatives. In August 2020, the company hosted a virtual concert with The Weeknd that was seen by just 2 million viewers. It was clearly inspired by the success of Travis Scott’s Fortnite event, but failed to match its impact. TikTok is not a digital environment in the Metaverse the same way that Fortnite and Roblox are. TikTok may have had more monthly active users than either of those services, but the engagement and experience is night and day.
Similarly, TikTok is not built to administer NFTs. It’s rapid growth may indicate a cutting-edge ability to do it all for creators, but it actually indicate the opposite. TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has grown so fast, why would we expect it to quickly launch a Metaverse-style event or create a TikTok marketplace? The company has had issues managing its own censorship controversy, CEO turnover, or geo-political turmoil that surrounds its core product.
TikTok may get there eventually. Over time, most of the social networks adopt eachothers features anyway. But NFTs are a different beast. It may take a little more work to get this project off the ground.
Read more about TikTok’s NFT launch in its initial press release.