By Thomas Huitric
As the trendy buzzword exploded in popularity in technology circles over the summer, we invited Matthew Ball — a venture capitalist and technology strategist who helped bring the concept to the forefront — to the Hello Show to share his precise definition of the Metaverse, what it is not, and its importance for the future. This presentation served as a great introduction to the concept of the Metaverse and set the stage for many other conversations throughout the show that directly or indirectly intersected with the topic.
Ball started by dispelling common misconceptions about the Metaverse. He emphasized the fundamental difference between the technical definition of the concept and its popular perception, as well as recognizing that individual building blocks or access methods should not be confused for the entire Metaverse.
“Saying ‘The Metaverse is VR’ is like saying ‘the Mobile Internet is an app’ or perhaps the iPhone.”
He highlighted the evolutionary nature of technological change, which to him places the Metaverse as the next state of the currently mobile Internet — built upon it, not replacing it. Through this lens, the Metaverse can be thought of as a new wave of computing. It follows those of the Mainframe, Personal Computing, and Mobile Computing eras, marked by upgraded user bases, use cases, network infrastructures, user interfaces, and input devices. Ball argues that synchronicity and persistence are the two most important aspects of this new computing paradigm, and of those who will require extensive investment in networking backbone infrastructure and technology.
Then, focusing on three layers of the modern computing stack — payments, communication, and operating systems — he showed that the building blocks of this next wave are already here and starting to benefit from network effects, as they set out to disrupt the incumbent players in their respective spaces.
This set the stage for Ball to share his working definition of the Metaverse:
“The Metaverse is a massively scaled and interoperable network of real-time rendered, persistent 3D virtual worlds that support continuity of identity, history, objects, and payments, [which] can be experienced synchronously by an effectively unlimited number of users”
By this definition, it will still take a while for the Metaverse to become a reality, as exemplified by the shortcomings of platforms like Epic Games’ Fortnite on scale, interoperability, and synchronicity.
Finally, Ball went into why now multiple technological advances are coalescing into the concept of the Metaverse. The accelerating factor of the COVID-19 pandemic is playing a role as well, and there are challenges ahead in building the Metaverse and unsolved problems of the current era that should not be carried forward.
This primer — like the written one Ball has published on his personal website and which we encourage you to read for a more in-depth exploration of the Metaverse and his framework of eight core categories — is an excellent introduction to a concept that has become so instrumental in understanding modern technology and business, beyond the hype cycles that big announcements like Facebook’s rebranding have launched.
For a valuable follow up to Matthew Ball’s keynote, and more in-depth discussion on the Metaverse, we recommend watching the replay of our panel discussion moderated by Katy Hunt, Principal in the Business Group at Orange Silicon Valley. The session dives into the economics of the Metaverse with some of its builders and provides this short and direct answer to the question, “Why should Enterprise care about the Metaverse?”, from Jacob Navok, CEO, Genvid Technologies: “It’s like asking why they should care about the Internet.”
Recent developments and news across the globe have reinforced our conviction since the Hello Show that the Metaverse is an important topic of focus for businesses in every industry. We are devoted to identifying trends, partnering with thought leaders, and bringing light to innovative companies working to build the Metaverse, and we would love to continue the conversation on this subject with our partners.