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What To Know And Do About The Coming Metaverse

In the early 1990’s SciFi fans were introduced to a concept called the Metaverse in Neal Stephenson’s book SnowCrash. In the book this described a future virtual reality beyond the universe that was populated by user-controlled avatars as well as AI and bots.

Now decades later the age of the Metaverse is upon us. This post captures insights into this new world in ways meant to help leaders understand what is most relevant to your strategic planning. We provide an operational definition of the Metaverse, a description of the current market of metaverse players, and a list of recommendations for how this information should inform your business strategy.

The Metaverse Defined

The Metaverse is the successor to the Internet of today. It is a future state that will include persistent interoperable virtual worlds and the platforms required to support and interact with them. It will have its own thriving economy and deliver experiences unavailable in the physical world. It will be a primary means of educating our youth and delivering knowledge through life, and will be a leading form of social interaction and entertainment.

Today’s Virtual Worlds

The Metaverse is not here today, but the term is sometimes used colloquially when describing today’s virtual worlds. Although current virtual spaces are not the metaverse, yet, they do provide hints at what is to come.  A few notable examples of virtual worlds include:

  • Immersed: Enabling distributed teams to have in-person experiences in a VR workplace. Uses combination of desktop agents and VR apps.
  • MeetinVR: Collaborative business sessions in VR. Goal is to teleport to work and use incredible collaborative tools to improve productivity.
  • vSpatial: Designed to enable a workspace of the future, for individuals or teams. Interact with files and data.
  • Sominum Space: Open, social and persistent metaverse platform built on blockchain.
  • VRChat: Making virtual world building easy.
  • Mozilla Hubs: Private, virtual 3D spaces in your browser on most devices.
  • Fortnite: A free to play cross-platform game. Famously hosting online events and concerts.
  • Decentraland: Own and build on virtual land and build virtual structures. Mostly games and art for now. But lessons informing interoperability across platforms and ways to store and exchange value.

The Size of the Metaverse Market

ARK Research assesses the size of of current metaverse related income (mostly from virtual worlds) to be at $180 billion, compounding at 17% annual to $390 billion by 2025. Bloomberg and Roundhill Investments estimates the size to be higher, reaching a market of up to $800 billion by 2025.

Shifting Market Drivers

For years the primary drivers of metaverse type capabilities were hobbyists and gamers, and these are still the big drivers of the current virtual environments. But the pandemic has accelerated the use of virtual worlds for the future of distributed work and the use of virtual worlds for education. Watch for both distributed work and education to become increasingly important drivers of requirements for the coming metaverse.

What Enables The Metaverse

Matthew Ball of Roundhill Investments tracks seven key categories that enable the coming Metaverse:

  • Compute: The IT providers, including cloud providers.
  • Networking: Providing path/transport from users and businesses to the metaverse
  • Virtual Platforms: Companies providing immersive digital simulations and environments.
  • Interchange Standards: Providers of tools, protocols, formats and servies for interoperability
  • Payments: Providers of broadly interoperable means to exchange and store value
  • Content, Assets, and Identity Services: Providers that design, produce, create, sell, store, protect and manage digital assets
  • Hardware: The physical technologies to access the metaverse

Another useful way of conceptualizing the Metaverse market is to categorize the components by activities. Analyst expert Jon Radoff has organized companies contributing to the coming Metaverse by activities in the market map below:

This approach is useful in focusing on what users will need and also helps drive an understanding of the extensive number of players in the current Metaverse ecosystem.

Note, whether using the frameworks of Matthew Ball or Jon Radoff, it is pretty clear that the overall size of the true Metaverse market will be much larger than those estimates that extrapolate out from the market size of online virtual worlds. This will be a trillion dollar economy sooner vice later.

What The Coming Metaverse Means For Your Business Strategy

Imagine being a corporate leader in the 1990’s and hearing that over 100 million people are now accessing the Internet. Many heard that as a call to action to transform and adopt and create new business models to enable success in the Internet age. But many did not. Many corporations saw the Internet as something to laugh at. We seem to be at a similar inflection point now.

Some considerations to help you conceptualize how to update your strategy for the coming age of the Metaverse:

  • Consider what your requirements are for the metaverse. What would your business like to be able to accomplish there?
  • Open accounts in a few virtual worlds and learn how to interact with others there. Remember, this is only a hint at what is coming, but doing this will enable you to better conceptualize the future and what you want out of the coming Metaverse.
  • Review your current products and service offerings and consider how they can be updated for delivery and use in both current virtual worlds and in the coming metaverse.
  • Review the current list of companies in the market map above and consider how your firm can serve those companies.
  • Since many aspects of the coming metaverse depend on interoperable crypto currencies, consider how your company can hold and interact with Ethereum and Ethereum based tokens like those in use in current virtual environments.
  • Host a virtual offsite in the virtual world of your choice.

A Concluding Thought

As security and risk professionals, we are of the opinion that security and risk management for the coming Metaverse are not nearly as well developed as they should be. We will be focusing our attention more to this topic in the coming months and would welcome your feedback on this thesis.

For Additional Research

Jon Radoff on Building The Metaverse Megadeck

Roundhill Investments Metaverse ETF

ARK Research Big Ideas 2021

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Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of OODA LLC, the technology research and advisory firm with a focus on artificial intelligence and cybersecurity which publishes OODALoop.com. Bob is the co-host of the popular podcast The OODAcast. Bob has been an advisor to dozens of successful high tech startups and has conducted enterprise cybersecurity assessments for businesses in multiple sectors of the economy. He was a career Naval Intelligence Officer and is the former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Find Bob on Defcon.Social