(5/22) "Plaid for Calendar" - Backed by Bessemer Venture Partners (currently raising)
++ Digging into Metaverse 101
Welcome to the 22nd edition of the Geeks Of The Valley (GOTV) Newsletter, where we share exciting ideas/insights on tech, ventures & trends + feature interesting early-stage company every week. If you enjoy and want to keep abreast with insights and interesting early-stage startups before they go big, subscribe to this newsletter ✌️.
Geeks of the week
Investor(s): Previously backed by Bessemer Venture Partners, Lerer Hippeau, Sarah Imbach (ex-COO of Linkedin & early employee/SVP of PayPal).
Founders: Ex-Segment growth lead engineer, Zynga user acquisition/retention lead, and 3x founder that made over $25m+ in sales.
The Sparks ✨
An early sign of virality with over Top 1% of active users referred 2X+ users each and 2X% of total signups are direct referrals. Installed at 3k companies.
Experience team with a background in user acquisition & growth.
Into the 🐰🕳️
The metaverse is a wide range of virtual experiences, locations, and assets growing in popularity during the pandemic's digital shift. These new technologies, when combined, point to what the internet will become in the future.
But it is still very early for the metaverse community as there is quite a lot to unchain. For example, how would we describe it? Is it a virtual world? Is it a spatial internet? Is it a virtual reality? It may be difficult to pinpoint the precise answer at the moment. However, it is possible to pick out core attributes associated with it.
Ex-Amazon Studio executive and current Venture Partner of Makers Fund, Matthew Ball categorize those attributes into several components:
It never stops and will always be living regardless of place and time. (Persistence)
Participants in the Metaverse will be able to engage with each other and the digital world synchronously, responding to their virtual environment and one another in the same way they would in the physical world. (Synchronicity)
Everyone will be able to log on simultaneously, and there will be no limit on the number of people who can participate. (Availability)
Participants will be able to trade goods and services for the value that others accept. (Fully functioning economy)
Information and assets will be accessible and interchangeable across many digital worlds and settings. (Interoperability)
The NFT opportunity
The metaverse will become a fundamental component of all physical experiences and the next great labor platform. For a long time, developed economies have changed as labor scarcity and real estate markets have gone through peaks and troughs. Within the metaverse, aspiring laborers living outside of cities will be able to engage in the "high value" market via virtual labor. We will see further disruptions in where we live, the infrastructure we construct, and who performs specific jobs as more consumer spending switches to virtual products, services, and experiences.
Yield Guild Games (YGG), a decentralized gaming startup, is a great example that enables this upward social mobility. YGG prides itself as a "play-to-earn platform" luring users to its platform in the hopes of earning tokens via blockchain-based economics. The concept allows players to earn real money by playing games. Players can gain incentives like in-game assets and tokens by actively engaging in virtual world economies, which they can subsequently trade or sell if they want on secondary platforms.
Axie Infinity is an example of a play-to-earn game offered by YGG.
The company which just recently crossed $1 billion in all-time sales, is an online video game developed by Sky Mavis that lets users earn money by purchasing, breeding, and selling digital creatures known as “Axies”. Each Axie is minted as an NFT, allowing gamers to verify the digital creature's originality on the blockchain. By defeating other players, players receive an in-game token called "Smooth Love Potion" (SLP). SLP is necessary to “breed” new Axies in the game.
A few years ago, in the gig economy, there was this phenomenon where various companies would rent assets to potential gig workers. For example, if you were an Uber driver and did not have a car, a company rented out cars to those prospective drivers through a revenue-sharing model. To put this into perspective, think of YGG as the digital metaverse version of those companies. YGG lends out Axies to prospective players who cannot afford the original cost of the Axie but can still participate and earn income through playing the game.
How far are we from reaching the true potential of the metaverse?
There are still several roadblocks in the way of a true metaverse. Hardware constraints are the most significant roadblocks: global networking and processing capabilities are currently insufficient to sustain a perpetual digital environment that can be accessed in real-time by millions of synchronous users.
Although this level of connectivity and processing capacity were accessible, the energy usage of such a project would pose a threat to national power systems and the environment. When technology is adequate, significant cultural changes are required to encourage the emergence of a robust metaverse. For example, high-quality VR and AR technologies are currently accessible to customers, however, less than 20% of Americans have tried them out.