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Snap Inc. is sunsetting efforts focused on building products for the much-vaunted next generation of the internet known as web3, according to a former research and development manager at the social media platform.
The California-based tech company said this week it would slash 20 per cent of its employee base and cut investments in any projects that don’t directly contribute to what CEO Evan Spiegel outlined as three strategic priorities: community growth, revenue growth and augmented reality.
According to a tweet posted on Wednesday by a Twitter account linked to Jake Sheinman, a research and development manager for web3 at Snap, web3 was not seen as contributing to those goals.
“As a result of the company restructure, decisions were made to sunset our web3 team. The same team that I co-founded last year with other pirates who believed in digital ownership and the role that AR can play to support that,” Sheinman wrote in the Aug. 31 tweet. Sheinman did not respond to a request for further comment.
A Snap spokesperson said that while augmented reality is a continued focus for the company, “early explorations in the web3 space represent a project that doesn’t directly contribute to our priority and continued investment in AR,” adding that only a few people were involved with the web3 effort.
Several external creators of nonfungible tokens -- unique digital collectibles sold in exchange for cryptocurrency on platforms like OpenSea and LooksRare -- said they had worked with Snap to launch AR filters, known as Lenses, that featured their NFTs in recent months. The filters allow users to create pictures and videos that showcase their NFTs in 3D formats, and had been popping up more frequently on the platform as Snap sought new ways to engage influencers with its products.
Lenses using artwork from collections including Invisible Friends, Nouns and Drug Receipts had appeared on the platform over the summer. A report by the Financial Times in July, citing a person familiar with the matter, said Snap was exploring third-party partnerships that could help NFT creators monetize their designs.
Snap’s action stands in contrast to moves by rival Meta Inc., which said it would shift its business to focus on new developments in web3 and the metaverse last year, changing its name and hiring teams of staff to build a virtual reality platform called Horizon Worlds. Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube also said it was hiring for a head of web3 earlier this year.
Read more: Inside ‘Web3,’ Crypto’s Plan to Retool the Internet: QuickTake
Other projects being scrapped by Snap as part of the layoffs include its internally-produced series of short-form shows Snap Originals, in-app games and Pixy, a flying camera drone that had been in development since 2017.