August 1, 2022

Metaverse Highlights: Week of October 31, 2022

This week, we focus on the challenges faced by Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta. As the company’s stock continues to plunge, analysts ask whether this gamble will prove worth the risk – the overwhelming answer, thus far, is no.

Yet the failures of Meta need not doom the sector as a whole. In fact, other giants are entering the field successfully: PayPal recently filed NFT & metaverse patents, indicating its intention to strengthen its position in the space.

Meanwhile, social platform Reddit has been silently onboarding millions of new users to web3 — 2.8 million to be exact, according to data provided by Polygon and Dune Analytics. Hundreds of companies (and thousands of creators) are turning the metaverse into a reality. They, not Meta, might represent the internet of tomorrow.

  • Singapore’s High Court has ruled that a non-fungible token (NFT) is a form of property and not merely information or code on the blockchain. It has also ruled that it has the jurisdiction to hear cases of dispute involving blockchains despite its borderless and decentralized nature and that a legal claim can be brought against a person whose identity is hidden behind a pseudonym.
  • These were the key points from Judge Lee Seiu Kin's grounds of judgment, which the court issued on Friday (Oct 21), on the barring of sale and transfer of an NFT called the Bored Ape NFT — the first court case here which dealt with whether NFTs counted as assets.
  • The High Court issued the injunction on May 13 and was said to be the first in Asia to protect an NFT.

The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft’s Struggles Enter the Metaverse (subscription)

  • With its futuristic HoloLens headset, Microsoft grabbed an early lead in the race to the metaverse. Seven years later, its big push into augmented reality has bumped up against the technology's limits and company management's patience.
  • The device, a ring-shaped computer worn like a crown that displays digital information on attached goggles, hasn’t become a hit. Microsoft shelved a planned new version and has struggled to meet technical requirements for its biggest buyer, the U.S. Army.
  • More than 100 employees have left the HoloLens team over the past two years, including its longtime leader, according to former employees and LinkedIn profiles. Microsoft has restructured the group that developed the headsets, which has numbered more than 1,000 and trimmed its budget, part of a companywide effort to reduce expenses and the size of its workforce as earnings growth slows.

  • A few months after PayPal’s top executives expressed their confidence in the future of blockchain technology, the global fintech firm has showcased an interest in investing in the NFT and the metaverse industry.
  • In an October 25 blog post, Mike Kondoudis, the intellectual property attorney, confirmed that PayPal filed two trademark applications with United States Patents and Trademark Office (USPTO) related to NFTs and metaverse on October 18.
  • Jose Fernandez da Ponte, the manager for blockchain at PayPal, said: “We will build a bridge between the fiat universe and the crypto universe. Consumers will have access to the wider web3 network through their PayPal wallets.” Dan Schulman, the CEO of PayPal, added that “blockchain tech is slowly redesigning the future of our financial system.”

  • Social platform Reddit has been silently rolling out new features and onboarding millions of new users to web3 — 2.8 million to be exact, according to data provided by Polygon and Dune Analytics. And it’s all thanks to digital collectibles or profile pictures (PFPs).
  • The buzz around Reddit’s NFT avatars and the growing marketplace has been attracting the attention of non-native Web3 users over the past few days. The numbers speak for themselves. Nearly 3 million new wallets have been opened since the RedditFloor marketplace launched and dropped its own avatars in July. Users have minted more than 86,000 NFTs.
  • A few things set this marketplace apart from others, such as its native integration. Reddit’s marketplace allows users to create wallets, mint, and customize NFTs directly in-app.

  • Spatial, a platform dedicated to helping creators and brands build their own spaces in the metaverse, announced a collaboration with the Government of Mexico City to bring The Day of the Dead (or Día de Muertos in Spanish) celebration to Spatial’s metaverse.
  • This novel experience invites visitors from all over the globe to a Day of the Dead themed metaverse festival, where they can attend all-day virtual celebrations and try on costumes via their Ready Player Me avatars.
  • This is a first for the City of Mexico, where they are combining a physical event with a virtual experience. “We are so thrilled to be a part of this joyful and colorful celebration that sits at the heart of Mexican culture,” said Gianna Valintina, Head of Marketing for Spatial.

  • Speaking at the Wall Street Journal's Tech Live conference Wednesday, several executives weighed in on the metaverse, with very few having kind words. While none directly mentioned the multi-billion dollar investment by Meta in the virtual world, this was foremost in leaders' minds.
  • "The last thing I want to do when I get home at the end of a long day is live inside a computer," said Snap CEO Evan Spiegel. This brought a round of laughter from the audience. “I’m going to get in trouble when I say this, but it’s a poorly built video game…Building a metaverse that looks like a meeting room? I find it’s not a place where I want to spend most of my time.”

  • The decentralized nature of web3 and the metaverse will change the competitive landscape for financial services firms presenting both opportunities and challenges.
  • A web3 decentralized model seeks to manifest a digital experience that is more resilient, more inclusive, and prioritizes peer-to-peer connection.
  • In web3, value creation, storage and exchange are decentralized across communities and technology infrastructure.
  • Web3 and the metaverse are interdependent but not dependent. Many believe Web3 will accelerate the adoption of the metaverse.

  • A year ago on Friday, Mark Zuckerberg made a huge bet on the metaverse, announcing his company’s name change from Facebook to Meta. The move has resulted in billions of dollars in losses for his company, and the “metaverse entrepreneurs” who flocked to the company’s virtual world to make real-life money could be easily forgiven for panicking.
  • But some remain unfazed. “It’s been an incredibly positive experience, and one of the best in my life,” says Aaron Sorrels, a 47-year-old professional comedian who opened a virtual comedy club in Meta’s flagship metaverse platform, Horizon Worlds, last year.

  • Meta shocked the financial world this Thursday by posting a 52% profit decline, its second straight quarterly decline, and a revenue decline of 4% year-over-year. This decimated their stock so badly with a 24.5% drop that it caused financial analyst Jim Cramer to break down crying and apologize on air for having faith in the company.
  • If you’re at all familiar with the metaverse, and Meta’s version of it, you can see how it’s going to be almost impossible for them to spend their way out of this hole by simply making it more immersive with better tech.
  • Sure, VR use may continue to grow incrementally. Yes, shared virtual spaces are things that people like, but everyone is doing them better than Meta is here already, and no amount of emotion-tracking or legs will change that. This is the definition of a quixotic quest for Zuckerberg, and it may cost him his entire company if he doesn’t pull back from the brink sometime very soon.

  • Global police agency Interpol said it was preparing for the risk that online immersive environments - the metaverse - could create new kinds of cybercrime and allow existing crime to take place on a larger scale.
  • Phishing and scams could operate differently when augmented reality and virtual reality are involved, Madan Oberoi, Interpol's executive director for technology and innovation, told Reuters.
  • Virtual reality could also facilitate crime in the physical world, Oberoi said. "If terror group wants to attack a physical space, they may use this space to plan and simulate and launch their exercises before attacking," he said.

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