Twitter has announced the hiring of a new Crypto Engineering Lead as it explores more ways to incorporate cryptocurrency and blockchain technology in various ways throughout the app.
Twitter has appointed crypto veteran Tess Rinearson in the newly created role. Rinearson has been working in cryptocurrency since 2015, most recently with the Interchain Foundation, and at Chain.com before that.
I’m thrilled to share that I’ve joined Twitter, to lead a new team focused on crypto, blockchains, and other decentralized technologies—including and going beyond cryptocurrencies.✨ pic.twitter.com/HaP0k5hUOq— Tess Rinearson (@_tessr) November 10, 2021
Rinearson will work closely with Twitter Product Manager Esther Crawford to help develop a range of new features, including expanded payment options and NFT display tools, as well as its broader Bluesky decentralization protocol project.
As explained by Twitter:
“Blockchain and crypto are unlocking new possibilities that align with many of our big product bets, including creator monetization and new forms of self-expression. It’s time for Twitter to explore that technology in earnest, and Tess has the experience to lead that charge.”
Twitter has already initiated several crypto projects, including payments for Ticketed Spaces, crypto transfers for on-profile tips, and NFT display options linked back to the ownership ledger.
Here’s a sneak peek???? on what we’re working on for NFT profile verification.— Justin Taylor (@TheSmarmyBum) September 29, 2021
What do you think? pic.twitter.com/Z8c6tH3BBy
There’s still a way to go before any of these are fully realized, and Rinearson will bring considerable expertise into the Twitter eco-system to help take these options to the next stage.
It’s difficult to know how significant a role cryptocurrency will play in the next stage of the internet.
Many see crypto and blockchain technology each playing a fundamental part in the development of Web 3.0, and becoming key components of a more open, collaborative online experience that will facilitate broader opportunity for all in the coming next phase.
But for others, crypto and NFTs merely represent small scale fads, both marred by scams and profiteering, which are destined to be severely limited in terms of broad-scale adoption and ongoing value proposition.
There are opportunities within each, including wider exposure for digital art and artists, and new capacity to monetize their work, while cryptocurrency systems could also facilitate alternative banking processes, and fee-free international transactions, which could have a big impact for developing regions in particular.
A lot of nuance gets lost in the hype, with trend riders latching onto the latest hashtags and ticker codes, and following Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey and Gary Vee into the bright new world of shiny objects, with the lure of getting rich quick. But the majority are going to lose out. NFTs don’t offer significant long-term value, and are not, as some providers claim, ‘built for the metaverse’ - which, it’s worth noting, doesn’t currently exist in any form that would support such either way.
The NFT market is also being flooded with lower and lower quality digital images, most of which people are not buying the full re-use and ownership rights to anyway, and eventually, the value proposition of such will reduce as supply and demand crash, and clarity is left in their place.
Crypto offers more potential, but seemingly not in the ways that many are looking to use it. Still, if Twitter’s able to crack the code, and build effective crypto payments into its systems, that could prove to be a valuable addition - while Twitter can also capitalize on the NFT wave as it stands to help improve utility for more users, and maybe provide a more direct avenue for digital art ownership and re-use.
That might also leave Twitter playing the role of copyright police as to who can and can’t use certain NFTs on their profiles, but maybe simply having direct connection back to the blockchain ownership data will be enough to dissuade unauthorized use, and provide a more stable framework to enable digital artists to better monetize their work.
This could also help - according to a new finding by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, Twitter is also considering making NFT profile images a different shape, which would mean that unauthorized NFTs would stand out if/when used as a profile image.
That's could a smart way to align with the NFT trend, and add something extra to the Twitter experience. Will that rule out use by those who don't own the original NFT? Probably not, but this is the type of that Twitter's now working on as it works to align with these rising elements.
Will they keep rising, and become a more significant part of Twitter more broadly? We’ll soon find out, with Twitter looking to ramp up its crypto and blockchain projects via these projects.