June 13, 2022

Metaverse Highlights: Week of June 13, 2022

Despite the crypto crash, companies across industries continue to invest in and bet on the Metaverse. Down the line, the Metaverse will change the way in which brands interact with customers — the question is how. This week, we highlight opportunities that web3 offers for luxury brands, governments, and artists who want to control their brand without intermediaries. We also highlight Jack Dorsey’s proposed transition from web3 to “web5,” a potentially seismic shift in digital governance.

  • The Water & Music Community released a research project on Music NFT sales in 2021 — an in-depth analysis of 2021 music NFT sales by artist genre, platform/protocol, and label affiliation, covering over $86M worth of revenue, as well as a qualitative discussion of popular and emerging forms of utility that have emerged around the format in the last year.
    • Across the year, indie artists accounted for the majority (64%) of NFT sales, while major-label artists accounted for the minority (36%).
    • Average music NFT pricing remains expensive, but has fallen over time. Between February and December 2021, the average price per music NFT fell by 46%, from $18.8K to $10.2K per unit. The median fell by 27% over the same time frame, from $1,000 to $825 per unit.
    • The most popular genre by share of revenue was Electronic (65%) followed by Hip-Hop (19%).

  • Ynet reports that Israel is about to announce a multi-million shekel investment into the metaverse.
    • Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll: “It is critical that we create additional channels to experience Israel and share the Israeli story. Today, with considerable progress in realizing the Metaverse vision, we need to be the first to embrace the benefits inherent in it.”
    • The first step of the venture will focus on the hugely popular online game platform and game creation system Roblox
    • The Foreign Ministry plans, among others, include the development of a game called "Treasures of the Holy Land," in which participants will have to search for archeological finds and thus learn about the connection between the people of Israel and the Land of Israel.
    • In addition, the ministry plans on giving lectures and performances at the Metaverse, as well as virtual tours of museums and special events, for example as part of the Pride Parade in Tel Aviv or Independence Day celebrations.

How Blockchain will Affect the Future of Brands’ Marketing Tech Stack

  • In Digital Journal, Tim Sandle shares the thoughts of Formation co-founder Rob Fagnani on how the blockchain will change brands’ marketing stack.
    • Many brands have launched loyalty programs in the last 5-10 years to address the risk of stagnation. Thanks to the blockchain, brands will cut out the middleman (advertising networks, large aggregators) and track who clicks and interacts with their ads.
    • For consumers, this change will make it easier to remain active across a higher number of loyalty programs.
    • For brands, it will create traceability, reduce fraud, and open safer opportunities for cross-brand partnerships.

  • The French luxury group Kering is betting on cryptocurrency.
    • Kerring has invested in $1.5 billion crypto fund Haun Ventures, and is testing the use of digital currencies at Gucci and Balenciaga.
    • Grégory Boutté, the firm’s chief client and digital officer, said: “We’re convinced that cryptocurrencies are here to stay. In order to offer our clients the best possible experience, it makes sense to offer the option [to pay in crypto].”
    • Through its Kerring Venture Fund, the firm will also make minority investments in start-ups aimed at serving the luxury consumer of the future.

TikTok’s Parent Company Acquires VR Headset Maker Pico

  • ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, is gearing up to invest a lot of money in VR.
    • A source close to the situation told the outlet that the company plans on investing “tons of money” to develop VR-related content.
    • It looks like a large portion of ByteDance’s investment is going into hiring. As noted by Protocol, over 40 job listings have popped up for Pico, the Chinese VR headset maker ByteDance acquired last year.
    • Pico still has a lot of growing to do, and ByteDance certainly has the bandwidth to give it the push it needs to compete with the handful of mainstream headsets offered by Meta, HTC, Valve, and PlayStation in the US. The company’s flagship all-in-one headset, the Pico Neo 3 Link, launched in Europe in May and costs €449 (~$472 USD).

Virtual Realities: How Cities are Moving into the Metaverse and Beyond

  • For the Bloomberg Cities Network, cities are moving into the Metaverse. 
    • The “metaverse” is on its way to being a $800-billion industry by 2024; now, local leaders are charging into this frontier as well, in search of use cases that go beyond gaming and fantasy. A growing number of cities are testing ways that immersive experiences via the metaverse, virtual reality, and simulated cities known as “digital twins” can engage residents in new ways. 
    • One city to watch is Seoul, which is the first city to announce plans to deliver residents services via a metaverse platform. When “Metaverse Seoul” launches later this year, residents will be able to put on a virtual-reality headset and see a 3D rendering of City Hall and the plaza in front of it. From there, they will be able to interact with virtual versions of all areas of Seoul’s city administration.
    • Another big opportunity area is in engaging people who don’t normally show up at council hearings or read planning documents. That’s what city leaders in New Rochelle, N.Y., have in mind as they integrate virtual reality into the pre-development public engagement process. 

How the Metaverse Could Change the Purpose and Feel of Cities

  • Two professors from the University of Ontario argue that the metaverse could change the purpose and feel of cities.
    • Many urban attractions such as cinemas, restaurants, museums and historical monuments will see a drop in the number of customers passing through their doors. It’s already possible to visit several museums virtually.
    • Although the experiences are virtual, their costs — in terms of money, energy and environment — are real and increasing. Will funding come from budgets previously allocated to urban spaces and infrastructures? Will our governments follow Saudi Arabia’s or South Korea’s example and start investing in infrastructure and plots of land within these novel virtual cities?
    • Without the need for urban spaces and the businesses that surround them, the benefits of living in the city may also diminish. Many households became used to telecommuting during the pandemic, and have since chosen to move out of the city and take advantage of more affordable rents. If, in addition to working from home, many people are able to carry out their social and physical activities remotely from the metaverse, we could very well see a new urban exodus.

  • Colorado Governor Jared Polis fundraises with NFTs.
    • For the price of $52.80 (corresponding to the elevation of Denver in feet), supporters can buy one of 2,022 digital tokens featuring a pair of sneakers, a green chili pepper, rainbow-colored mountains — and Polis' dog Gia, who's firing lasers from her eyes.
    • The NFT is essentially a digital souvenir that Polis is giving out in exchange for donations. Supporters can show off their collections and link to them as evidence of how early they supported any given candidate. Donors can pay with dollars via credit card. The NFTs live on the Flow blockchain, which is ecologically friendly. (It's the same chain used by NBA TopShot.)
    • Polis' NFTs will act as tickets to get donors into events, Brian Forde, CEO of Democratic fundraiser Numero, said. "Nothing has changed with grassroots fundraising over the past 10 years," says Forde. "We’re giving campaigns a new tool. It’s more engaging, fun, and social."

US Trademark Filing Hints at Arizona State University Planning Classes in the Metaverse

  • US trademark filings hint at Arizona State University planning classes in the Metaverse.
    • According to records submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, Arizona State University filed seven applications for variations of its name — ASU, Arizona State, Arizona State University — as well as that of its football team, the Sun Devils, to be used in a virtual environment.
    • For its fall of 2021 semester, ASU reported 77,881 students were enrolled at physical campuses in the U.S., while 57,848 people attended through “digital immersion.”
    • The trademark filings also suggested ASU could be exploring the use of nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, to authenticate many documents, from diplomas to tickets for university events. ASU has previously adopted blockchain technology for various uses within the university, including tracking the spread of  COVID-19 in November 2020 and sharing data from the academic records of its students in 2019.

Web5 Announced by Jack Dorsey’s Block to Replace Web3 as Future of Internet

  • Jack Dorsey announced at Consensus 2022 that TBD, the Bitcoin arm of Block, is working on a new vision for the internet – something it is calling web5.
    • The potentially revolutionary technology will be designed to allow users to take control of their own data rather than giving it away to third parties. The mission statement for TBD reads,“We believe in a decentralized future that returns ownership and control over your finances, data, and identity.”
    • While web3 has yet to establish itself as the dominant technology of the internet, Jack Dorsey believes it is already time for a change. This change comes from what he calls web5, which will be built on top of Bitcoin, where data is stored with the user, not the application.
    • Web5 will be built on top of Bitcoin and will not require any other tokens to function. The idea of web5 is a Bitcoin maximalist approach to innovation that, if successful, could eliminate the need for any cryptocurrency other than Bitcoin.

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