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Cringe: Salesforce latest megacorp to jump on non-fungible tokens bandwagon

How to get nothing for something

SaaS CRM provider Salesforce has proposed to launch a platform for trading non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

For those who prefer living under rocks to the hellish infotainment torrent of the 21st century, NFTs are non-interchangeable digital units stored on an immutable blockchain ledger. Why do we care? Money.

Reportedly, digital artist Pak's The Merge was bought for $91.8m in December, with 28,983 collectors snapping up 312,686 total units of mass, otherwise known as a non-fungible token, the largest NFT sale at the time.

And where there is buying and selling going on, Salesforce wants a slice of the pie.

According to CNBC, Salesforce employees got an insider briefing on plans to develop a platform dubbed NFT Cloud. Benioff and Bret Taylor, Salesforce co-CEO and former Facebook CTO, want to build a platform for artists to create NFT content and release it on a marketplace.

It might compete with and/or integrate with existing such platforms like OpenSea, which inhaled $300m in VC cash and has a nominal $13.3bn valuation in January.

Signs of Salesforce's appetite for the NFT trend that is gripping the starry-eyed tech glitterati first emerged on a December 2021 blog, when Mathew Sweezey, director of market strategy, wrote about how "pioneering brands will search for utility via NFTs."

"In 2022, you're going to hear a lot more about NFTs, and there will be winners and losers. Winners will move past NFTs as simply collectable to find greater utility through the token," he said.

At a distance, it is difficult to see how Salesforce plans to square the circle of environmental sustainability with the insatiable carbon-guzzling nature of the blockchain. One 10-second NFT sale consumed 8.7 megawatt-hours of energy – the sort required to boil 100,000 or so kettles – according to a recent report.

Salesforce once had a plan to conserve, restore, and grow 100 million trees by 2030. Then it wanted to outdo itself and insisted on planting a trillion trees. Expect news of a gazillion trees – or however many it takes to compensate for the needless carbon dioxide emitted from the virtual art cattle market Salesforce seems to want to create.

Whatever the meaning of all this, we can only hope the industry grows tired of examining its non-fungible bunghole and one day sees some light at the end of the tunnel. ®

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