I’m very bullish on the metaverse as an investment class, and I believe that we are still very early and therefore lots of possibilities to build riches are there for the taking. On the other hand, it is still not clear to me what the winning plays are, so I’ll be working my way down this rabbit hole and trying to understand how I can best invest.
Hanging around other interested people and experts is always key in order to be in early on something, and that is why I will be spending time in the Metaverse Land Club, a metaverse-focused membership club run by Robin Copernicus, who I interviewed on my podcast. Holding assets such as Meebits and being in groups like the MeebitsDAO that are building an open metaverse is also key. Again, you should listen to my interview with Danny Greene, general manager of the Meebits DAO for more information about how they are helping build that open metaverse.
As of right now, if you’re looking to make significant investments, you should be looking at two platforms in particular:
- Decentraland – the top open metaverse
- The Sandbox – the leading commercial metaverse
Now one thing we should keep in mind is that the term metaverse has different meanings to many people, and there is not yet any official definition that we all have consensus about. This reminds me of the early nineties when the internet was still in its commercial infancy, and we always heard about the information superhighway. Now, this information superhighway was supposed to revolutionize our world and bring online shopping, on-demand movies and other things we take for granted on the internet today, but here’s the deal – it was supposed to all happen through our TVs.
Personal computers were deemed to be more suitable for text-based tasks and it was taken for granted that the higher bandwidth (at the time) available through the TV cable network would enable things to happen much faster on our TV sets rather than on our computers. At the time, computer screens were very rudimentary as well compared to TV screens. To cut a long story short, the real internet revolution happened on personal computers and not through television sets, and this paved the way for what we now call the world wide web. Nobody talks about the information superhighway anymore.
If we think about the Metaverse as being a virtual 3D full-immersion world that we access through special goggles and haptic sensor suits, worlds that can render a close-to-real-life experience, then we probably are around a decade early. The idea that we might spend way more time in this kind of metaverse than in “meatspace” is one that is bandied around but might or might not happen.
I personally think of the metaverse as being already something that exists and has existed for a while. We can talk about degrees of enhancement, but go any means of public transport or just any busy areas, and tell me whether all the people glued to their phone screens are already living in a virtual world or not. In my view, the mobile revolution and smartphones brought made this dual-life we lead absolutely real.
Having said that, there’s a world of potential lying ahead of us that will also be part of this metaverse experience.
In my opinion, the metaverse in its full form will be a massive equalizer for humanity. Once you’ve got the equipment to experience the metaverse, it will matter less and less where you are in the world physically, and many opportunities that are currently still limited by geographical location will be freed up to everyone who has access to the metaverse. We will see a similar shift as we saw when the internet became ubiquitous, especially through the use of smartphones, which were the real driver of internet penetration in developing nations.
The Metaverse will enhance our sense of meaningful human connection, not only by allowing us to connect with our tribe of people wherever they are in the world, but also by enabling us to stay closer to our family and friends should we so choose. For many at present, this is not an option, as they are forced to move and be closer to work hubs such as the big cities and most developed countries. For many, this, unfortunately, means that husband and wife live far from each other, and kids see less of their parents.
Now, as I hinted at earlier, I’ve been lucky to experience several shifts in our human experience
- pre and post PC world (the age where I started dreaming big)
- pre and post-internet (the world’s information at my fingertips)
- pre and post smartphone (always connected to everyone)
These were huge shifts for me, but the metaverse has the potential to bring something that has been missing so far – a rich human connection. While Zoom meetings have revolutionized the way we communicate and work, it doesn’t really come close to sitting down with someone over lunch or over a few drinks. It is unquestionable that even an office environment (love it or hate it) cannot currently be properly recreated online. The metaverse can make this possible when the right ingredients all gel together.
Ultimately, it will change the way we think about physical location, and create opportunity and connection for people, no matter where they are.
And from an investment standpoint, this means there is huge money to be made and incredible growth to be achieved by the winners of this game. As always, the key will be to bet on the right horses. And that is what I will be exploring myself over the coming months. Let’s start by discussing the major players I see.
Decentraland is probably the most well-known metaverse platform, and it’s where most events happen. To get exposure to Decentraland, you can either buy land or else buy the token $MANA on all the major crypto exchanges such as Kraken, Binance or Coinbase.
Decentraland is the OG of the metaverse niche. It was the first successful open metaverse and it has managed to cultivate a very healthy market of land sales. You can buy land and develop on it right away, and we have seen a number of big brands buy up land and build some sort of metaverse headquarters within Decentraland. Some have used it to launch new products, others for concerts and others just as a cost-effective way to get extra attention from the press.
It is fully open-source and is the most decentralized metaverse option. While it places very few limits on what you can build, it is harder for newcomers to build since you actually need to be good with 3D tools like Blender to build the detailed building models that work in Decentraland. Sandbox, on the other hand, is more beginner-friendly on the builder side. I like Decentraland though because it is the most similar to real-life in this sense. And that is one of the main reasons why big companies opt to open their first headquarters in the metaverse on this platform. They have the money to burn and can hire architects to build amazing buildings, showcasing the possibilities of the platform and the metaverse in general.
While Decentraland can be said to be as truly decentralized as the current legal frameworks allow, this also means there is no corporate backing, hence less advertising and media attention.
Decentraland still feels like a lonely place if you visit, there is little activity if you just wander about. There is no compelling content or game element but it is indeed just an open and free world. The main use cases so far remain casionas, festivals and museums, apart from the previously mentioned corporate metaverse headquarters.
There is also no play-to-earn element in Decentraland, and the main way to invest at the moment is to buy land and hope that it appreciates over time. You could also rent it out although I haven’t seen much demand for that so far. Of course, you could also earn money by building stuff for others if you have the technical abilities to do so.
The Sandbox is another big player in the metaverse space so far. To get exposure to The Sandbox, you can either buy land or else buy the token $SAND on all the major crypto exchanges such as Kraken, Binance or Coinbase.
Sandbox by comparison is predominantly run by a centralized company out of Hong Kong, is not currently live (has a limited beta going for some lucky land holders) and is more ‘limited’ in the regards that it is more in line with games such as minecraft or roblox. It is not open source and you will have to use voxels and any other ‘building blocks’ they give you to build to fit in their ecosystem. This builder is more user-friendly and you will see a consistent theme across the entire space. It’s leading company has helped make connections like Adidas, BAYC, etc, and will continue to do so. Not out, visually limited, but more of a ‘game’ that will appeal to several audiences. That being said, both totally have their place and both will be things in the future of this.
I wasn’t impressed by this world. This might be meaningless to the future of this metaverse, but such lonely metaverses with blocky graphics really make me appreciate the real world more and make me go take a walk outdoors rather than engage me in spending more time on them.
This is the most realistic crypto metaverse application, and is best experienced in VR with the right VR headset. It is open-source software that is also cross-platform. Users can purchase digital land, build homes and buildings, play hyper-realistic video games, start businesses, offer concerts and live events. Artur Sychov, the founder and CEO of Somnium Space, launched the platform in 2017 and opened it to the public in September 2018.
While there is a company behind it, the idea is to decentralize things as much as possible: “By tokenizing Somnium In-Game assets and Land Parcels, we are forever decoupling Somnium Space as a company from owning and operating database of parcels and all in-game items by giving this power to our users”.
I’m not a big fan of this one myself as most of the action I’ve seen is around weird disco parties with a bunch of young users joking around.
Mark Zuckerberg delivered quite a surprise in November 2021 when he announced out of the blues that Facebook will change its name to Meta. As a consequence to the announcement, the tokens $MANA and $SAND skyrocketed. This was an extremely good trade for those who anticipated it.
It’s one of those trades that look obvious in hindsight, and I was quite disappointed at not having gotten in on $MANA and $SAND in time for the big pump, especially since I had already been digging deep into the metaverse for a few months before that. But anyway, the metaverse space is so early that there will be undoubtedly many great entry points to $MANA, $SAND and other related tokens going forward.
According to his plan, Meta will become a major player in the metaverse. There is a lot of controversy around Zuck’s plan, as Facebook has not exactly been a much-loved company during its lifetime. Mark Zuckerberg himself is one of the most hated tech founders/CEOs at present, due to his seemingly cold outlook and proven track record of treading on people’s privacy.
However, the fact is that he has been insanely successful, and the Facebook+Instagram+Whatsapp trio is one hell of a beast in the Web2 space. Will the company successfully transition to Web3 and become a major player there? Only time will tell, but if you want to take a bet, the best way is to own some Meta stock.
You might also want to listen to this long interview with Mark Zuckerberg on the Lex Fridman Podcast. In it he shares his vision for the metaverse and comes across as a fairly decent person.
Worldwide Webb is an interoperable pixel art MMORPG metaverse game giving utility to popular NFT projects. The game uses NFTs for in-game NFT Avatars, pets, lands, NFT Items, and quests. Deployed with a build-first mentality by a group of crypto-native game developers, artists, coders, and marketers; rapidly pushing out new technologies and applications.
This game has a retro vibe which I like since I grew up playing games with these sorts of 2D graphics. There is a general consensus in the space that this is the number one 2D metaverse environment that all collections want to integrate with, so it makes sense to own some land here. At the time of writing, the apartments are in the hands of more than 60 NFT communities & numerous influential figures.
I like what the team has been putting out, including the amazing apartment builder, with which you can totally customize your own apartment including hanging up pictures of your own NFTs.
The one thing I really dislike is the name, but I’ll have to get used to it I guess. It’s a play on the founder’s surname Webb. He’s quite a character, so I think it makes sense to spend some time familiarising yourself with his ideas and work before you invest in this project. Beyond his outlandish fashion sense, I think he is brilliant and amazingly creative, so I have no problem backing this collection for the long term.
My first purchase of virtual land was in NFT Worlds. It was my first immersion into owning and developing land, since I hadn’t played any other similar games like Roblox or Minecraft either.
I had a light bulb moment when I first opened up my purchased square of land and started to explore it, comparable to the feeling I got when I purchased my first NFT. With these kinds of innovations, there is a transition you can only make when you become an owner of the innovation in question.
The main criticism of NFT worlds is that it is just a hosted Minecraft server, but it has seen a very nice price appreciation curve.
Apart from buying a world, you can also buy the $WRLD token.
- WeMeta – Metaverse marketplace
- Parcel – Discover and list virtual real estate across the metaverse
- Landworks – Rent or lend metaverse assets
What are your thoughts on the metaverse? Let me know in the comments section below.