September 26, 2022

Metaverse Highlights: Week of September 26, 2022

We begin this week’s highlights with a cautionary note from Meta’s connections planning director, who says that 2022 will not be the breakout year for the metaverse. For him, the change is only beginning to emerge, and players need realistic milestones instead of frustratingly unrealistic expectations.

Still, across industries, large incumbents continue to turn their attention to metaverse-related emerging technologies. Major automakers are using virtual reality to improve production and engage customers; real estate companies are retraining architects to transition to metaverse real estate; Disney continues to hire for metaverse-related roles; and, more broadly, major companies are hiring Chief Metaverse Officers en masse.

Faced with this acceleration, regulators are beginning to react. This week, the Biden White House has just released its first-ever framework on what crypto regulation in the U.S. should look like – whether this is a first step towards a broader regulatory agenda remains to be seen.

  • Computing is due for a new platform, and Meta believes it will be the metaverse.
  • The last significant innovation was the iPhone in 2007, and they come about every 15 years, as Ian Edwards, Meta’s global connections planning director, said during the House of Instagram event during British Beauty Week.
  • “While 2022 is not the year of the metaverse like 2007 was not the year of the iPhone, we believe it is the start of the beginning,” Edwards said. “[This year] is the beginning of the change, not the change itself, and that is really, really important context.”
  • But change, Edwards said, is coming. He added that it would take the form of the metaverse because it solves its predecessors' problems.

  • MarketsandMarkets has released a new report indicating that the automotive metaverse market is “projected to grow from USD 1.9 billion in 2022 to USD 16.5 billion by 2030.” The growth could reportedly be due to various factors, including the widening use of VR in showrooms, VR and AR technology being built into vehicles, and the increasing usage of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrencies.
  • VR is heavily used for existing digital showrooms, whereas AR is often used in vehicle advertising, manufacturing, inspection, and maintenance.
  • Companies providing their metaverse expertise to the auto industry include gaming platform Roblox Corporation, software giant NVIDIA, and Meta Platforms Inc. (formerly Facebook).

  • The Biden White House has just released its first-ever framework on what crypto regulation in the U.S. should look like — including ways in which the financial services industry should evolve to make borderless transactions easier and how to crack down on fraud in the digital asset space.
  • The new directives tap the muscle of regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, but nobody’s yet mandating anything. However, Washington's long-awaited direction has captured the crypto industry's and investors' attention in this nascent asset class.
  • The framework follows an executive order issued in March, in which President Joe Biden called on federal agencies to examine the risks and benefits of cryptocurrencies and issue official reports on their findings.

  • In the debate over the future of work, we’ve focused on the number of employees who will physically return to an office.
  • But employers struggle to land on—or enforce (paywall)—one of these options indicates that the choice isn’t so black and white. Missing from the debate is an alternative made possible by new technologies, offering businesses an exciting way to marry the current environment of remote and in-person workplaces.
  • For the first time, companies are weighing the possibility of opening office space in the metaverse. Although it’s still in its early stages of adoption for many companies, the metaverse has the potential to meet workers’ greatest demands. According to Randstad’s 2022 Workmonitor research results, these demands include flexibility and remote work options.

  • While digital art can certainly be made into an NFT, NFTs are ultimately a much broader category than restricted to art, and associating the two too closely may do a disservice to each.
  • Digital art is simply the latest evolution of humans using tools at their disposal to make art. While NFT collections do digital feature art, the emphasis of many NFT collections isn’t on the art itself but instead on the marketability of the art.
  • NFT collectors look at stats like floor price and the ratio of owner volume to supply volume to gather insights on circulation and potential resale value. Of course, artist credibility and previous success also go a long way. But many NFT collections, as we think of them in common parlance, are as much art as they are financed.

  • Demand for cryptocurrencies as a payment method has drastically declined over the past six months, according to Takis Georgakopoulos, global head of payments at JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • “We saw a lot of demand for our clients, let’s say, up until six months ago,” Georgakopoulos said in a Bloomberg Television interview on Tuesday. “We see very little right now,” he said, but the bank will still support clients who want to use that method.
  • This week, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon also reiterated his skepticism about bitcoin and cryptocurrency. “I’m a major skeptic on crypto tokens which you call currency, like bitcoin. They are decentralized Ponzi schemes,” the executive said. However, he emphasized that he is not skeptical about blockchain and decentralized finance (defi), calling them “real” innovations.

  • According to McKinsey, corporations, venture capitalists, and private equity invested $120 billion in the metaverse between January and May 2022, more than double the $57 billion invested in 2021.
  • Yet metaverse real estate values have had a rocky ride. Land prices in the four major metaverse platforms, The Sandbox, Decentraland, Cryptovoxels, and Somnium Space, have fallen 50 to 80% this year, according to Winston Robson, CEO, and co-founder of metaverse analytics company WeMeta.
  • Look beyond the numbers, however, and you'll find whole professions being shaken up, from architects and designers to developers and real estate agents. And far from being isolated to the metaverse, their ventures there are already impacting the real world.

  • Advertising giant Publicis Groupe SA introduced its newest C-suite member at a technology conference in Paris this year. He goes by Leon. He’s the chief metaverse officer.
  • Publicis wants Leon to help blue-chip clients like Walmart Inc., UBS Group AG, and Nestle SA understand what the blockchain, NFTs, and a more immersive internet experience could mean for their businesses. The stakes are potentially big: some estimate that annual global spending related to this virtual landscape could reach as much as $5 trillion by 2030.
  • Disney, P&G, LVMH, and other big names have also invested in chief metaverse officers to plot a course through the next chapter of the internet. Do companies need them?

  • Startup and trading NFT firms say they ignore the App Store because Apple's rules and 30% commission make it untenable for them. Under Apple's rules, companies would lose heavily on every deal. In the case of NFT trading between users, a typical marketplace takes just 2% to 3% of the transaction.
  • However, it's not just the commission that's an issue. The Information says that several NFT firms have the issue that App Store in-app purchasing must be done in dollars or another physically-backed currency. It does not accept cryptocurrency. Since the cryptocurrency exchange rate varies enormously, developers can't just set an equivalent in dollars.
  • Arthur Sabintsev, from blockchain company Pocket Network, said that this issue "makes it really hard to price it because you have to program all these values in dynamically."

  • The Walt Disney Company is looking to hire a transaction lawyer to explore emerging technology opportunities, including NFTs, working at an "accelerated and aggressive timeline.”
  • On Sept. 10, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said at its D23 Expo fan convention that the company is exploring and developing plans for the metaverse. In June, the Mickey Mouse conglomerate hired a long-time Apple executive as vice president of “Next Generation Storytelling Creative Experiences,” and the following month, moved a consumer experiences executive to a position as executive vice president in its “Next Generation Storytelling & Consumer Experiences.”
  • “We call it next-gen storytelling,” Chapek told Deadline backstage at the expo in Anaheim on Sept. 10. “We tend not to use the M word too often because it has a lot of hair on it."

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