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This Week in the Metaverse (W37.2022)
Welcome to Letters - commentary, analysis and ideas from Into The Metaverse.
Here are the 5 items that captured my attention This Week in the Metaverse.
Neal Stephenson Named the Metaverse. Now He’s Building It
Disney CEO lays out early plan for its digital future
JPMorgan: China’s Metaverse-Related Economy Could Reach $4T
FaZe Clan to Create a Virtual World On the Sandbox
Announcements from Roblox: Tech, Ads, Growth
Let’s dig in!
(1) Neal Stephenson Named the Metaverse. Now He’s Building It
When I read Snow Crash for the first time sometime in early 2018 there was a mix of owe from what would the world like like should the “metaverse” outlined in the book be realized, and concern that this somewhat of a dystopian future isn’t necessarily desirable (a feeling that also appeared when I read Ready Player One). Nevertheless, as we are in the very early stages of the metaverse actually emerging, Neil Stephenson’s imaginative concept in 1992 has never been more relevant. It inspired entrepreneurs (including myself) to build companies, corporations to change their name to Meta, artists and authors to tell stories, investors who invest in established businesses, and educators who teach our youth - all embarking on a journey to realize the promise and possibilities of the metaverse.
Now Stephenson is embarking on his own entrepreneurial journey with the founding of Lamina1. Wired magazine wrote a terrific piece about that and you can complement it with our podcast conversation (S2E11) with Stephenson and his co-founder in founding Lamina1, Peter Vessenes -
(2) Disney CEO lays out early plan for its digital future
The CEO of Disney, Bon Chapek, makes it clear that Disney’s metaverse ambition is well underway although the practicalities of that remain to be seen. The beloved Disney did appoint media and tech executive Mike White to oversee its newly established Next Generation Storytelling & Consumer Experiences unit but I await with anticipation to see what are their initial initiatives in the space. More on this in Reuters’ article.
With the streaming wars in full force, finding its next generation business that builds effectively on its core theme park business and traditional entertainment revenue, the metaverse, I suspect, could play a strategic role in how Disney will leverage its IP portfolio in the next 10 years. It remains to be seen what are the business translations of its metaverse ambition. Currently Disney’s stock is trading at roughly similar level as late 2017 / early 2018.
(3) JPMorgan: China’s Metaverse-Related Economy Could Reach $4T
CoinDesk cited a research report by JPMorgan in which the bank states the metaverse will have “profound implications” for China and will affect gaming, advertising and e-commerce… The digital world will offer an improved user experience across various internet business models, and this could lead to increased user penetration and average revenue per user (ARPU), the report said. The bank’s bullish scenario suggests that the metaverse could triple China’s online-gaming market to $131 billion from $44 billion.
We have argued on the podcast that it could well be that folks are underestimating the true market size of the metaverse given how early we are in its emergence, and so it remains to be seen in the case of China, what the size of metaverse-related economy will end up being. More interestingly than the size of the metaverse economy in China, is what exactly the Chinese metaverse will look like. If the metaverse is going to truly become a 3D Internet, there will be use cases that we can’t even imagine yet which will likely emerge in the years to come.
You can complement this item with our podcast conversation (S2E10) with author Nina Xiang and entrepreneur Alex Xu where we cover China’s parallel metaverse -
(4) FaZe Clan to Create a Virtual World On the Sandbox
As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, FaZe Clan, the esports and creator organization that went public this summer, has selected The Sandbox to develop and host a virtual world that will be the gaming company’s home in the metaverse.
Called “FaZe World,” the virtual world is expected to launch next year and will feature digital goods and experiences to connect FaZe Clan creators with fans. FaZe will also sell digital real estate as a 12×12 plot of digital land on the platform. While there has been a lot of hype around The Sandbox and the platform’s potential, the number of users currently remains to be significantly lower than non-Blockchain-based platforms such as Roblox and Fortnite Creative.
You can complement this item with our podcast interview (S2E14) with Jonathan Stringfield in which we cover the intersection of Gaming, Blockchain & Metaverse -
(5) Announcements from Roblox: Tech, Ads, Growth
It has been quite a week for Roblox Corporation, the platform, and its community, with the conclusion of its annual Roblox Developers Conference, followed by Roblox’s annual Investor Day. There were quite a few interesting announcements which I covered in a letter earlier this week -
Many decided to focus on Roblox’s announcement on its Immersive Ads which will launch in 2023 (writeup from Washington Post here), but the one thing that hasn’t been discussed much and captured my attention is a future in which players will be able to purchase real goods from within virtual experiences on Roblox. With so many brands coming into the platform (now at 100+), I believe that delivering the technology which will allow users to purchase both virtual goods and physical goods from within the platform will have a profound impact on the platform’s economy, user experience, potential for brands to monetize in the metaverse, and expanding developers’ revenue streams.
In NARS Color Quest, the brand world that Supersocial built in partnership with prestige beauty brand, NARS Cosmetics, we have seen users customizing their avatar with virtual makeup and then recreating it in IRL -
Disclaimer: I’m the founder and CEO of Supersocial.
Last but not least, Roblox also updated that in August the platform had ~60 million Daily Active Users, an all-time high for the platform.
Sharing the keynote from Roblox’s Investor Day for those who want to dig deeper!
You can complement this item with my podcast conversation (S2E21) with Tami Bhaumik, VP of Civility & Partnerships at Roblox, which was published earlier this week. We cover the ways in which Roblox is building a safe and resilient metaverse -
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Into The Metaverse covers companies, technologies and trends that are bringing this promise to life. Yonatan Raz-Fridman “Yon” (founder & CEO of Supersocial) interviews the brilliant minds building for, and investing in, the Metaverse.