November 22, 2022

Metaverse Highlights: Week of November 22, 2022

This week, we remain focused on the magnitude of FTX's bankruptcy, which will have long-lasting consequences on the general public's trust in cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and the Metaverse. From other giants like Genesis Trading to the price of iconic NFTs like Bored Apes, the entire ecosystem has faced the repercussions of FTX’s collapse. Nevertheless, this  week also brings some positive news. Museums continue to experiment with the digital world, and the French carmaker Renault is using the Metaverse for industrial applications. The Renault announcement is particularly important as the automobile industry tends to be more conservative than the fashion industry, but is now jumping into the Metaverse as it sees its direct interest. Beyond the headlines, Metaverse enthusiasts can look to players like Renault to see that the first-principle, underlying value of the technology may outlast the seismic waves of this month.

  • The Museum of Modern Art recently announced that it would be selling upwards of $70 million in artworks from the William Paley collection to invest in expanding its digital reach.
  • The shift toward digital engagement at museums accelerated greatly during the pandemic, sparking a sea change in priorities and perspectives among museums, the art and cultural sector, and the broader public.
  • More than ever before, museums see their digital presence as a critical pillar of engagement, access and education — and as an essential tool for reaching new audiences and unlocking new revenue streams. This is a very recent trend and shows no signs of slowing down.

  • Famed investor Charlie Munger once again condemned cryptocurrencies following last week’s disintegration of crypto exchange FTX, becoming the latest billionaire to lash out at FTX and its founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
  • Crypto is “demented” and a “very, very bad thing,” Munger, the long-time vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and crypto bear, said in an interview with CNBC aired early Tuesday.
  • “Good ideas, carried to wretched excess, become bad ideas,” Munger said about FTX and several other notable crypto institutions going under this year, adding there is a “bad combination” of “partly fraud and partly delusion” in the businesses.

  • The blockchain-based gaming platform Decentraland kicks off its second annual Metaverse Music Festival, described as “a four-day celebration of music, innovation, culture and creativity.”
  • The reality TV show The Voice will also be making an appearance by hosting a virtual contest and handing out NFT awards to winners. 
  • Lara Dias, producer of the Metaverse Music Festival at Decentraland, says that the event is designed to recreate some of the aspects of real-life music festivals while simultaneously playing with new possibilities that are only possible in the metaverse. “We want people to be mesmerized by the festival,” she says. “We can push the boundaries of physics, and at the same time be safe.”

  • The cryptocurrency sector is reeling from a dramatic crash in coin prices and the domino-like collapse of several key players. The industry's troubles show it has to be reined in, but stricter rules could mean it ceases to exist, Paul Krugman has said.
  • "Recent events have made clear the need to regulate crypto," he said. "But it also seems likely that the industry couldn't survive regulation."
  • The veteran economist also took aim at crypto exchanges and lenders, which are facing mounting financial and regulatory pressures. He questioned why they even exist, when bitcoin was conceived as a peer-to-peer digital-payments system that removed the need for financial intermediaries.

  • A top Hong Kong cryptocurrency firm will stop over-the-counter trading over concerns of broader market turmoil since the collapse of FTX.
  • Genesis Block told customers in an email first reported by Reuters that the company's trading portal would close on December 10. Chief executive Wincent Hung told Reuters that the company is concerned "as we don't know which counterparties would fail next, so we would rather close out all our positions to regain some of our liquidity." 
  • Genesis Block once was responsible for the largest network of bitcoin ATMs, and is now asking its customers to withdraw funds as soon as possible. 

  • Few companies are as good at stoking and cultivating hype around product releases as Apple. What’s the secret? Maybe it’s secrecy. Or at least highly considered timing around formally announcing the newest new thing. Apple’s hype management is incredibly disciplined, and part of that is knowing when to say nothing at all. 
  • Consider the contrast between the way Apple and Meta are handling their respective metaverse virtual reality initiatives. To the extent that we know anything about what Apple is up to, it’s via third-party digging and rumors. 
  • Apple reportedly doesn’t like the term “metaverse,” but this was interpreted as more proof that Apple will directly take on Meta and other VR/AR competitors.

  • The metaverse is no longer driven by startups and fueled by venture funding. Many of the largest companies in the world are now competing to bring VR and AR products to mainstream markets.
  • Some say this will evolve into a narrow industry aimed at gaming, entertainment and a handful of other targeted verticals, but others believe it will be far broader than that.
  • The true metaverse — the one that will transform our lives — will be rooted in augmented reality, enabling us to experience the real world embellished with immersive virtual content that appears seamlessly all around us. That is by far the most natural way for us humans to bring the digital world into our lives. For that simple reason, the metaverse is inevitable.

  • Automobile company Renault has announced that it is already running an industrial Metaverse of its activities, fueled by a series of processes that allow the company to monitor data from all of its production lines

  • This industrial world includes the interconnection of production lines, monitoring the totality of the supply chain, and almost all of the supply flows.
  • The company has stated that the implementation of this tech will produce substantial benefits, including savings in the order of $330 million by 2025.
  • The industrial metaverse will supposedly allow the company to reduce delivery times by 60% and reduce the carbon footprint of vehicle production by 50%. Warranty costs will also be reduced by 60%, according to predictions by Renault.

  • In the not too distant future, Universal Studios Hollywood will import a “Mario Kart"-themed ride from Japan that is centered on augmented reality, an attraction designed to create the illusion that we’re interacting with virtual objects and characters. 
  • And earlier this month the Walt Disney Co. quietly announced that it is “in conversations” with Illumix, a Redwood City, Calif.-based AR firm that has been rooted in games (“Five Nights at Freddy’s AR: Special Delivery”) and e-commerce but is quickly expanding into physical realms. 
  • These were tech demos and shouldn’t be viewed as guarantees that any will show up in the park, but the proof-of-concept projects signal that an augmented reality-enhanced future is getting closer.

  • The value of Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs have absolutely plummeted, leaving celebrities with six figure losses, in a perhaps predictable conclusion to a bewildering trend.
  • Earlier this year, for instance, pop star Justin Bieber bought an Ape for a whopping $1.3 million. Now that the NFT economy has essentially collapsed in on itself, as Decrypt points out, it's worth a measly $69,000.
  • Despite the looming pessimism, plenty of Bored Apes are still being sold. In fact, according to Decrypt, around $6.5 million worth of Apes were moved on Tuesday alone, an increase of 135 percent day over day.

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