Race to the Metaverse
On October 28th 2021 Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook Inc had been renamed to Meta. With this announcement, the race to the Metaverse has started. The term that was coined in the 1992 novel by Neal Stephenson marks the vision for a more complete digital experience. Journalists, experts, and developers often refer to the Metaverse as a digital place where humans can interact.
We believe that the Metaverse is not a place. It’s a time, much like the concept of singularity. The time in history, when our priorities and our attention finally flip over to the digital world. Ever since the invention of the television, we have been spending an increasing amount of time looking at screens. With the proliferation of the internet we started migrating most aspects of our lives to the digital space: art, finances, social interactions, entertainment, work.
By now, complete digital ecosystems dominate our lives, and our digital avatars have become as important - if not more important than our real, physical selves. Filters are the new makeup, Zoom meetings are the new conferences, video games are the new social experiences.
But while ownership in the physical world is a well established custom and law, in the digital world it is the subject of debate at best. The question of who owns our digital avatar and parts of our digital experience is becoming the most important question of our age. With Facebook - Meta - joining the conversation, this debate has become a lot more relevant.
We are witnessing the convergence of three main industries that drive this race. These three industries are at the core of the human experience: social media, entertainment, and finance. In 2020, someone asked Tim Sweeney, founder and CEO of Epic Games if Fortnite was a video game or a platform. He said: “Fortnite is a game. But please ask that question again in 12 months."
For many kids Fortnite is a social experience - a place to meet friends. At the same time, games are disrupting existing unit economies for both gaming and finance, with a ripple effect for the gig economy and consumer-level financing.
This new landscape is forming in front of our very eyes as we cross over to the Metaverse and its most prominent question is about digital ownership. We'll see thousands of startups rise and fall that will live on the overlap of these three industries.