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Mark Zuckerberg wants to turn Facebook into a 'metaverse company' – what does that mean? – The Conversation UK

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Director, Centre for Financial Regulation and Innovation, University of Strathclyde
Daniel Broby does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Mark Zuckerberg wants to reinvent Facebook. He has been telling analysts and journalists that he wants the company to lead the way to a completely different internet. He said:
In the coming years, I expect people will transition from seeing us primarily as a social media company to seeing us as a metaverse company … In many ways the metaverse is the ultimate expression of social technology.
So what does the Facebook chief executive mean by “metaverse company”? And what will the company look like if and when it gets there?
The term “metaverse” is used to describe the vision whereby the internet will evolve into a virtual world. The idea was first conceptualised in 1992 by the American novelist Neal Stephenson in his science fiction classic, Snow Crash. It foresees the internet as a 3D virtual living space, where individuals dip in and out, interacting with one another in real time.
Many in Silicon Valley still view the metaverse as the future. For example, Google is heavily invested in augmented reality (AR), which is where you use technology to look at the real world but with digital 3D objects layered on top. And rumours swirl that Apple is building products like glasses for experiencing virtual spaces.
But Facebook appears the most committed of all to this new vision. In his quest to turn Facebook into a metaverse company, Zuckerberg is seeking to build a system where people move between virtual reality (VR), AR and even 2D devices, using realistic avatars of themselves where appropriate. Here they will work, socialise, share things and have other experiences, while still probably using the internet for some tasks such as searches which are similar to how we use it now.
Owning not only the Facebook platform but also WhatsApp, Instagram and VR headset maker Oculus gives Zuckerberg a big head start in making this a reality. Collectively, these brands give Facebook an unbeatable number of customer relationships, and all the important knowledge for creating a desirable virtual world: how people behave online, their personalities, likes and dislikes, gait, eye movement and even emotional states.
To help build the metaverse, Facebook’s engineers will have to make a success of immersive realism. Imagine a computer game with 2.9 billion avatars and the artificial intelligence that harvests all known information on them. The company has created a division called Reality Labs, whose researchers are working on creating the defining quality of the metaverse, namely “presence” – the feeling of being in a space with others. Unsurprisingly, this team is heavily staffed by people with gaming backgrounds.
Facebook is also ploughing money into software to enable activities like “teleporting” into another place like an office so that it seems as if you are really there, as well as physical kit like AR glasses and more advanced VR headsets.
Zuckerberg has said that he expects Facebook to have made this transition within the next five years, and for devices like headsets and AR glasses to be ready for heavy daily mainstream use by the end of the decade.
To succeed, Facebook is going to have to make its VR offering interoperable with metaverse systems being created by other companies online. It is also going to have to be scaleable, so that it can cope seamlessly with more and more people becoming part of it. Those are costly propositions, but integrating the technology makes sense.
Facebook has already been the subject of an antitrust case for anti-competitive practices. The lawsuit failed, but the US is still working on regulations that could force Facebook and other tech giants to scale back. Clearly the company has many enemies – not least from the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which users’ data was harvested without their consent, and what it said about how Facebook has handled privacy.
Creating a metaverse product that is fully interoperable with everything else in the metaverse will not only potentially reassure some about Facebook’s intentions, it will also make it harder for them to break it up in future. Once it is in place, competitors will find it extremely expensive to create rival systems. Facebook’s metaverse system will also be more valuable the more people that are part of the network. This is based on the idea of network effects, which is what built Facebook and America’s other online giants into trillion-dollar companies in the first place.
Changing the business model is not a light decision. With many of its customers sitting at home for more than a year due to COVID, Facebook has been firing on all cylinders. It has just reported a 57% increase in second-quarter advertising sales, a 7% rise in monthly active users (that’s 170 million more of them), and a near-doubling in net income to US$10.4 billion (£7.4 billion). As at the end of June, the company was sitting on US$64 billion of cash.
At present, advertising dominates the Facebook social-networking business model, but the move to becoming a metaverse company raises the possibility of new revenue sources. Currently users share thoughts, pictures, posts, activities, events and interests in a two-dimensional way without paying for it (at least not in the traditional sense).
But users might be willing to pay for the enhanced interactivity that will be available in the metaverse, perhaps to enter certain private areas or to do certain things, like teleporting for more than a few minutes at a time or whatever. Zuckerberg has said he believes Facebook will make money from the sale of certain virtual goods and experiences. Will we be paying for the most stylish avatar clothes in future, for example? Or to see the latest movie in a virtual cinema?
And in this new world we will probably be interacting with one another even more than we do already. This points to even more revenue opportunities for the gatekeeper.
In summary, creating a virtual world for users to interact with their friends and family is not just a fancy vision, it is a commercial necessity. Mark Zuckerberg created the first social media platform that became a global standard. Now, in virtual reality, he is trying to pull off the same trick again.
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Metaverse Crypto Index Fund Launched by Matthew Ball, Multicoin, and Bitwise – Decrypt

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There's a wide array of crypto builders working to bring the metaverse to life, whether it's via platforms, tools, assets, or infrastructure. Now one of the leading voices around the metaverse has launched an index fund focused on crypto assets tied to the next-generation internet.
Today, writer and venture capitalist Matthew Ball announced a partnership with Multicoin Capital and Bitwise Asset Management to launch the Ball Multicoin Bitwise Metaverse Index. Bitwise has also made an associated fund available to qualified purchasers.
"We developed the Ball Multicoin Bitwise Metaverse Index Fund because, prior to today, there was no easy, expert, and methodologically diversified way for investors to have broad-based exposure to bona fide metaverse-focused crypto assets," Ball told Decrypt.
"To this end, the Index doesn't exist to time Event A or Market Conditions B. It exists so that investors can participate in what we believe is a multi-trillion dollar transformation, which will unfold over the coming decade," he continued. "If blockchain is relevant to the future of the metaverse, and our approach is sound, we believe the opportunity is significant—today, tomorrow, next month, and so forth."
The index will feature up to 40 crypto assets chosen by the partners, but a list of included assets was not provided to Decrypt by the time of publication. Bitwise's associated fund is available to qualified purchasers with a $100,000 minimum investment.
Ball described the Ball Multicoin Bitwise Metaverse Index as a "rules-driven index that combines the best of institutional indexing approaches with special adaptations to the crypto and metaverse spaces. That includes various risk screens, such as analyzing liquidity, developer activity, tech and regulatory risk, and "relevancy to the metaverse," said Ball.
"The ultimate goal is to curate the crypto assets that will be outsized contributors to the creation and success of an open metaverse," he added.
The metaverse refers to a future version of the internet that many believe will be built on blockchain technology. It's expected to be a more immersive and interactive experience that people navigate via 3D avatars and use for work, play, shopping, and socializing. It may also use NFT assets for user-owned items like avatars, apparel, and virtual land.
Ethereum-based games like Decentraland and The Sandbox are seen as early examples of the metaverse.
Facebook also showcased its own vision for the space and even rebranded its parent company to Meta last fall. However, it's not entirely clear whether Facebook's plan is for an open platform that is interoperable with others.
Ball is a leading writer on the metaverse whose work has been published in The New York Times, The Economist, and Bloomberg. His book, "The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything," is due out from W.W. Norton in July.
He's also a managing partner at EpyllionCo, which has invested in crypto startups such as Dapper Labs and Mirror, as well as a venture partner at Makers Fund. Ball is also behind the Roundhill Ball Metaverse ETF, which focuses on metaverse-centric stocks and trades on the New York Stock Exchange.
"Our objective was the creation of a diversified, balanced, and expertly-designed crypto Metaverse Index," explained Multicoin Capital co-founder and managing partner, Kyle Samani.
"This required a similarly capable team," he continued. "Matthew Ball is the definitive thought-leader in metaverse strategy and investing. We specialize in crypto assets and are one of the preeminent crypto investment firms. And Bitwise Asset Management is the proven leader in crypto indexes and index funds."

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Meta's losses show the metaverse's costly risk – Insider Intelligence

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Facebook parent Meta launches startup accelerator with India’s IT ministry in metaverse push – TechCrunch

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Meta Platforms is looking at India’s burgeoning startup ecosystem as it bolsters its bet on the metaverse. The social juggernaut has partnered with the Indian IT Ministry’s startup hub to launch an accelerator in the country to broaden innovation in emerging technologies, including augmented reality and virtual reality, officials said Tuesday.
MeitY Startup Hub and Meta’s effort, called XR Startup Program, will work with 40 early-stage startups and help them in research and development and developing workable products and services. Each startup will also receive a grant of over $25,000, the American giant said.
The program, supported by Meta’s $50 million XR Programs and Research Fund, will initially hand pick 80 startups to attend a bootcamp. It will also help startups with finding customers, inking relationships and raising funds, Meta said.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, said the program is especially aimed at helping encourage technology innovation in smaller cities and towns.
The XR Startup Program is the latest of Meta’s growing participation in the South Asian market’s upskilling efforts. The firm, whose Facebook and WhatsApp services identify India as their largest market by users, partnered with Central Board of Secondary Education, a government body that oversees education in private and public schools in the country, to launch a certified curriculum on digital safety and online well-being, and augmented reality for students and educators in the country.
The program — to be implemented by four Indian institutions, including IIT Delhi — will also host a “grand challenge” for innovation in categories including education, healthcare, entertainment, agritech, climate action, sustainability and tourism, the American giant said.
“India will play a pivotal role in defining future technologies. Decisions and investments made here in India now shape global discussions on how technology can deliver more economic opportunity and better outcomes for people. It is critical that we help to create an ecosystem that will enable India’s tech startups and innovators to build the foundations of the metaverse,” said Joel Kaplan, VP of Global Policy at Meta, in a statement.
Meta’s interest with working with startups in India is also not newly found. The company has backed three startups in the country, including social commerce platform Meesho and online education group Unacademy.
3 views: Is the metaverse for work or play?

“India’s rapid tech adoption combined with a vast pool of tech talent puts the country in a vantage position for shaping the future of the internet,” said Ajit Mohan, VP and MD of Facebook India, in a statement.
“For this future to be equitable, it will require active participation from all stakeholders, including developers, businesses, creators, policymakers, and entrepreneurs. We are excited to collaborate with MeitY Startup Hub and hope that the XR Startup Program will act as a catalyst to unlock the use of immersive technology across sectors like education, healthcare, agritech and tourism, not only in India but across the globe.”

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