Issue #24 Welcome to the Metaverse

Have you been visiting your local metaverse lately?

Or have any remote idea what a metaverse is?

Well, Zuckerberg does. In June, he declared that Facebook would become a metaverse company. This made many people look up from their digital newspapers and say, “a metawhat?”  

Or maybe that was just me.

Here is the question, is it like Bill Gates’ 1990’s Microsoft pivot, or is it the first step on the path to Friendster and Hoola Hoop oblivion?

Back in the early 90s, Bill Gates sat alone in a cabin, disconnected from the world, reading about the future. He decided that this “internet” thing would become a big deal and bet the future of Microsoft on it.

The internet, at the time, was either a nerdy research tool or a silly toy depending on who was describing it.

So… bet the company on it?

Well, it worked. Now Microsoft is one of the very few companies with a trillion-dollar + market cap and makes billions from cloud computing.

This brings us to metaverses

Neal Stephenson created the term metaverse in his sci-fi novel Snow-Crash. The term refers to a convergence of physical, augmented, and virtual reality in a shared space.

Think of it as a virtual space that you visit and participate in. You could buy and trade stuff, meet friends, go to concerts and be a part of the metaverse rather than view it through a two-dimensional screen on your desk.

Science Fiction guides reality

Metaverses are a thing of science fiction, but science fiction often guides reality. Clamshell phones come from Star Trek, and video phones existed in science fiction for decades before they were built into all of our gadgetry.

Today, metaverses exist primarily in multiplayer online games such as Fortnite, Roblox, and Animal Crossing. But they aren’t quite there yet.

They are kind of nerdy experiments or a toy at the moment. Which one depends on whom you ask.

As companies dabble, others are taking it quite seriously and defining what constitutes a metaverse.

So is this worth betting a company on?

The metaverse sounds far off, but the technology is developing fast. Cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens, virtual reality, and computing power are all developing at a speed that will make this concept possible.

But will people want to spend time in metaverses, or will all of this amount to another fad like Friendster or the Hoola-hoop – destined for the fun but “meh,” column of history?

Looking at a market cap poised to break through the trillion-dollar mark, Zuckerberg is betting on the metaverse. Only time will tell whether this is a good decision.

What does this mean for us?

I think there are two key takeaways.

  • First: the metaverse concept has the potential to change the way we work and is full of opportunities and threats.  
  • Second: big shifts and strategic changes are created, not given.  There is value in taking a step back, thinking about the bigger picture, and imagining how you will help shape it.  

So, when you are sitting in your “cabin” thinking about the future, maybe ask yourself: how would your business change in a metaverse environment?  You may find some interesting opportunities for your own trillion-dollar dreams.  



Delve Deeper into the Metaverse

Things aren’t things until they are defined as things.  

And the Metaverse isn’t yet a defined thing.  

As a result, there is a drive to define what a Metaverse is; nobody really knows. They just read about it in a book somewhere and heard about it online.  

The venture capitalist Matthew Ball wrote an oft-quoted essay on the topic and is surfacing as a thought leader. He says it should “span the physical and virtual worlds,” contain a fully-fledged economy, and offer “unprecedented interoperability” where users can take their avatars and goods from one part of the metaverse to another no matter who runs it. Read his essay here.   

Zuckerberg and Ball imagine a metaverse as an “embodied internet” run by many different participants in a decentralized way, like the real world, but not the real world.  Read more here.

Our Very Own Metaverse Pioneers

It was a couple of recent conversations that piqued my interest in Metaverses.  They aren’t calling themselves metaverse companies, but they are busy thinking about how to make it work for the rest of us.  

One was with Roberto DaCosta; his company CONINVR is hosting Virtual Reality networking and business events. No more Compuserve Chatrooms here: these are immersive experiences that you can have from home.  Check them out here.

From Around the Web

  • 🍔 No Change Here: The opposite of adapting is sticking with the same thing forever.  Like this guy, who has not only has eaten 32,000+ Big Macs but also has every box they came in.  
  • 🗣 How to Give Feedback: Here are some great tips from NPR of all places on how to give feedback… worth a read and a listen here.
  • 🐱 This is going too far: I hesitate to include this because we may lose all of the cat-obsessed population, but here is a link to a cat rescue sanctuary’s live webcam

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