I believe the rise of the Metaverse will be about as impactful as the rise of the internet itself.
Disruptive technology is uniquely interesting. Only here in this pocket of innovation do we see technology go from obscure toys and hobbies to being absolutely necessary to function in modern society. More shocking is that the rate of adoption of new products and whole new patterns of human interaction are increasing in speed and frequency.
Source: Visual Capitalist
Previously I’ve written about the Unbundling of Banks, a theme I speculate has just begun and of which I am an investor. However there are any number of emerging technological themes that could be vaporware or could change almost all human interaction which I’d like to dive deeply into. How fast any one of these technologies could change how we do almost everything is hard to overstate.
Buckle up because things are about to get weird.
Entering the Metaverse
This will be the first article of several on the Metaverse.
The Metaverse can be thought of as a stack of immersive technologies that give access to virtual worlds with “characteristics such as infinite persistency, ubiquitous synchronicity, unlimited concurrency, wide interoperability” to quote Matthew Ball.
Pong and Galaxy are to Fortnite and Minecraft what Fortnite or Minecraft are to what the Metaverse can be.
Imagine virtual worlds accessed via mind machine interfaces, VR headsets, AR headsets, and even the glowing rectangles we know and love today. Because commerce and private property exists within these worlds there will be people who work entirely within the Metaverse and are able to make a living within it.
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As far fetched as this sounds Atari has already launched a virtual casino in Decentraland complete with a DJ hosted launch party and thousands of attendees.
More strange for those outside of the blockchain loop is this is a casino in a virtual world governed by a distributed autonomous organization which receives 88% of the casino profits, but we will cover the decentralized finance world in another post.
Decentraland is just one of many attempts to build a blockchain backed metaverse, others include an obviously Minecraft inspired world called The Sandbox, and a virtual world called Cryptovoxels. While none of these are examples of what I believe a Metaverse will be, they are great examples of what the future of commerce and ownership will likely look like.
You could be forgiven for saying this is crazy and closing this article, but some of the leading tech companies are also hyper focused on enabling, building, or owning the Metaverse.
Big Tech enters the Metaverse
According to Forbes everyone on Facebook’s management team already must read Snow Crash, and yesterday Mark Zuckerberg announced why Facebook was becoming ‘a metaverse company’ in an interview with The Verge.
A couple highlights to show Mark’s head space:
Clearly Mark sees AR and VR as new interaction methods for a new kind of internet and a new kind of collaboration. More on this below:
Finally like the game examples earlier this will enable entirely new jobs and areas of commerce:
All of the above snippets are from the Verge, and I highly recommend digging into the whole article here.
This isn’t science fiction either.
This is already reality, it's just not widely distributed yet.
A couple video examples then I promise I will move on from Facebook.
Spatial the new Virtual Office
This is by no means an exclusive Mark Zuckerberg vision.
For example take a look at what Microsoft is doing with the HoloLens and Microsoft Mesh:
Or NVIDIA’s Omniverse platform for building virtual worlds:
Disney is looking to build “The Theme Park Metaverse”
“As we look to the future, connected park experiences that transcend the physical and digital barrier and unlock new layers of storytelling are a very exciting focus of ours. I call this concept the “theme park metaverse” – this is where physical and digital worlds converge, with wearables, smartphones and digital access points immersing the guests in the metaverse experiences. These experiences are perennial, and the guest engagement is inside and outside the parks. They are unique to you, but are also social and connected. They are constantly changing so there is always something new to discover.” - Tilak Mandadi
EPIC has created Core Games which has been described as an early Metaverse:
Tomorrowland has launched a year round digital entertainment venue for concerts and events:
And held Tomorrowland 2020 in a virtual space:
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For anyone not following this corner of tech closely it can seem other worldly but I encourage you to go back and remember how people viewed the early internet. We are witnessing the birth of the early Metaverse.
Where to learn more
Matthew Ball has one of the more comprehensive sets of writing on the Metaverse and I would say reading his 9 part primer is probably the best source of info on getting acquainted with the Metaverse. Packy McCormick writes frequently about the Metaverse and Web3, two emerging areas of tech near and dear to my heart. Dave Baszucki, CEO of Roblox, has done a podcast discussing the Metaverse here.
What's next for Prdctnomics
If you’ve been following me so far I’ve mostly written about and discussed investing. I am not a professional investor by any means, but I am a professional technologist, having been a software engineer, product manager, and entrepreneur. I will still be writing about investing (especially in the context of book reviews, articles, and mental models) but will be mostly writing about technology, business models, and the future at least as much going forward.
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