Hello jetlag! This week I have been in Chicago, engaging and educating the last few unsullied souls in the ways of the metaverse, web3 and all that jazz (see what I did there?)
However, whilst I was away, the whole world went completely mad. But hey, we’ve got a full tank of gas (fees), half a pack of NFTs, it’s dark, and I’m wearing sunglasses. HIT IT!
I’ve worked for enough guys to recognise when there is a measuring contest happening right before my eyes in the boardroom, and trust me, during my tenure as guardian of the blockchain, crypto and NFT commonsense policies, nothing made me laugh harder than the great FTX fail.
However, what is driving this Napoleonic wave has given way to more concern than comedy: step forward Sam Bankman-Fried - the Leif Garrett of Crypto [insert your scandal-hit child star here] - who I am sure, like the rest of us, laughed from the sidelines at the absurdity of Do Kwon of Terra-LUNA. But the motherlode of FUBARs has not only made us question our own community, but it has also made potential business, brands, and believers run for the hills. Fine with me. The crypto ecosystem is volatile once again.
Over the last six months, the web3, fintech and crypto communities have uttered the words “crypto winter” like a sigh to a scream: brought about by a whole heap of other things that have happened, and where other crypto bros have crashed and burned or the market has been overvalued it’s high profile individuals like Tom Brady, who let’s face it is having the worst quarter of his life, find themselves connected to failure. “This type of thing just doesn’t happen in normal financial marketplaces,” is the Keyser Söze of this whole situation. IT EXISTS. If you work in and with crypto, as I do, and you believe in the power of crypto, you have to accept that where there are successes, there are also going to be catastrophic failures. This is the world of financial technology. This is the world of investments; where values go up as well as down. So why is everyone losing their collective minds? This isn’t a chess lawsuit, this isn’t a dodgy festival on a paradise island [insert your own weather system here]. This is just one guy. Like Do Kwon. And that’s the problem. Crypto can no longer be about just one person. Crypto has to be about everybody. If we're going to weigh the entire crypto development process, success ratio, and ROI pivoting on just one person who is hailed as a messiah, what does this say about you? What we have to do is stop putting all of our trust and hopes into one person and start sharing our risks the way that we spread risks generally; that way (perhaps), we won't have crypto winters, and instead, we might work towards acceptance and regular stability. But right now? Crypto has a serious image problem and a volatile demeanour which might be difficult to shake. So let’s put our collective appendages back in our trousers and work a bit smarter. Ok?
Go-Go Power Lawyers
One of the greatest places I've ever lived is Japan. For the Japanese, the future is something that they can’t touch, which gives ways to innovation and ikigai in that innovation, from gigantic robot statues nestled beside goddesses to fully functioning AI bars and sleep capsules. If the future was something we could touch, the Japanese would have given it to us in tablet form. Meanwhile, in the West, our arrogance leads us, and we believe that we can create the future, and therefore we can grab it and own it. The tangibility of Japanese innovation is real; real enough for us to be able to experience, so it's very uplifting that the Japanese are exploring the letter of the law in metaverse and NFT concepts and new technologies for sport.
E-sports to baseball: the Japanese are a sporting nation, but what does that look like in a world of rigid rulesets and unwavering regulation? How will that work in a world where the users are the law? The recent development in Japanese laws specifically designed to regulate the metaverse and/or NFTs in a place where there are no laws that regulate NFTs or the metaverse, feels a little cart before the horse - but is it? On the surface, it seems like a really good use case because sports in the physical space are heavily regulated, so how the law will operate in a free, open and transparent space might seem like an anathema to people who work in both law and sports. I think this is a great way to test the rigorous nature of what is created on both sides (physical and digital). In a country where even the law is ikigai, I’m keen to see what happens next.
A Game Of Two Halves
You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that at some point or another in (the last two years, or) the next five years, sports are going to be an incredible source for NFT creation, development, trading and metaverse creation (see my opinion above). FIFA is working with Upland to create gamified experiences as part of an overarching metaverse. This is how the metaverse should be, right? Accessible, inclusive and interoperable.
The FIFA 2022 World Cup (your politics notwithstanding) starts in a matter of days as you read this, and Upland has created a digital twin of the Lusail Stadium with the brand and villages included.
So when we all made a collective gasp at FIFA pulling out of their successful EA relationship, it was inevitable that they would innovate out of the situation. And they have. Into something more open and transparent-ish. This is a vision for the metaverse that everybody expected. My big favourite bit of this piece is the real-world utility aspect through real estate - this is a great use case for this - but will it bring the punters in? And what will they actually do there? What they want it to be able to achieve is the start of a legacy; with a current community of 3 million users (not too shabby) to explore the World Cup fandom in a metaverse experience where they will create community content and acquire digital assets developed during this process (I hope that means open ownership).
Overall, I think having any sport, not just football, presented as a decentralised practice means that finally, we can have a full community-owned and backed football experience in a virtual or gamified space that until now has been difficult to cultivate beyond the physical because of, well, money. I really want this concept to outlive the politicking of the current status quo - and I’d love it even more if we could use this year’s event to highlight human rights violations in all its forms digitally, if not physically too. Wouldn’t you?
(You're My Favourite) Waste Of Time
Question. Do you have $2000 to $3,000? I don't. And if I did, I still wouldn't be buying that ridiculous Apple headset.
So let’s set the scene, 83.32% of the world’s population uses a smartphone for any form of communication. Apple claimed a 15.6 percent share of the global market in the second quarter of 2022. And for overall clarity of the smartphone users in the USA, 45% of them are Apple users. But the world is not the USA, and according to Tim Cook, the metaverse isn’t even the future, so, is this leak more vanity than sanity? It’s no mystery that Apple has designs on VR, but let's face it, VR is having some growing pains. It has been suggested that breaks should be taken after between 15 and 30 minutes of use, which impacts massively on the success of this particular device-driven experience. If I had $2000-$3000 to glean from users, I would spend it on innovating to narrow the poverty gap between people who have devices and people who do not. If Apple really cares about VR that much; inclusivity, accessibility and discoverability are exactly what they should spend some time and profits on. Welcome to yesterday, Apple, we hope you have fun.
Turning Back The Tide
In my long-running series on tech bros who want to own the world, Microsoft and Dentsu International have partnered to build a collaboration space in the metaverse. Don’t sigh just yet, it could be ok… right? This initiative is underpinned by a web3 Centre of Excellence (whatever that is), where clients and Dentsu teams have the chance to innovate, test ideas and experiment with hypotheses. My big question is why.
Whenever people put these weird wants and needs into a partnership and decide that they want to build and power a metaverse that needs to be completely exclusive. I just wonder why. There are plenty of awesome metaverses out there that they could use - why build one? Designed specifically to create accessibility for more people through any web-enabled device, that doesn’t seem very exclusive, does it? But the horror show is that it’s Microsoft powered. Jeez Louise, if 2022 is anything, it’s a fairly clear evolution of web and suite users away from Microsoft. It all just smacks of a ruse to get us to use Microsoft more, and that’s not really the idea of the metaverse, in my opinion at least. Additionally, it's built on Unreal Engine 5, which is the world's most open and advanced real-time 3D creation tool, we know that! But that also means it will be very impossible to use on mobile, where, you know, the metaverse really lives. My feeling is that this isn’t very agile, so until it is, I urge you all to try Canva.
That’s enough Metaverse for this week - my comfy, real-life bed is calling me.