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NFTs, guilds and coins: We speak to a crypto enthusiast about his thoughts on the metaverse – AsiaOne

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As someone who has invested $19k of her own money into the metaverse, I am naturally bullish about the space – even if recent events in the crypto space have been anything but convincing!
I don’t confess to being an expert (I’m just very enthusiastic), but one of my favourite ways to learn more would be to speak with and glean more from the experiences of others in the space.
Enter Sir Richard Michaels (his online persona).
He’s a 30-year old product engineer of a start-up company in Singapore, and he is knee deep into cryptocurrencies, and NFTs and invests frequently on Crypto.com and Magic Eden.
I can’t emphasise to you how much I enjoyed my conversation with Sir Richard Michaels. He taught me so much about this new tech wave and was so generous with his opinions and time – very much appreciated. 
Like my previous article, I’ve been conducting interviews with Gen Zs and millennials on their thoughts about the metaverse.
This piece shares the views of someone who is fully immersed into the world of crypto and Web 3.0.  I hope his interview would be insightful to build upon what you understand about the metaverse. 
Here’s what he has to say:  
Sir Richard Michaels: 
It’s a buzzword that has been thrown around, but it would be the next evolution of the internet, changing from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0. If you’ve invested in the early stages of Web 2, you’d be balling, and it’s the same idea for this metaverse. 
I don’t think there’s one particular way to describe it now, as it is still in the beta stage. Its current usage is to store digital assets in the blockchain, ranging from plots of virtual land to NFT art.
There are limitless possibilities for it at the moment. I believe that it will revolutionise the way we consume things, like having early access to real-world products if you join a certain metaverse. 
Decentralisation is a game-changer. Back in the older days, people have to throw in heaps of money in order to create a business model, now content creators can easily build their own brand, as it is not managed just by one entity. 
Sir Richard Michaels:
I believe it allows one to exist in another idea of reality. It is an outlet that was accelerated by the pandemic and us working from home. I personally am a people person and I enjoy meeting people face to face, so the idea of having an online avatar is very interesting and appealing to me. Especially when it comes to socialising and building connections in a modern way. 
Like how we first found it interesting to socialise via Instagram or WhatsApp, it’s a move that brings us forward into the future. 
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Actually, it might be larger than revolutionising business models – it could change how we live day to day. The whole idea of DeFi could alter how humans interact with currency and value, like how people are preferring to stake tokens (as much as that crashed as fast as it got big).
However, I can see how there is a lot of friction to reach mass adoption. There are more complicated steps to set up your digital wallet as compared to using fiat currency, and most people will require some guidance in the virtual world. Not just that, there are a lot of scams rampant, and there is a fear of being conned. 
The idea might not be easy to grasp for most. I feel like it is mainly growing towards the Gen Zs, especially with how Hollywood is normalising it from their advertisements on cryptocurrency on Spiderman. It’s quite cool to see these things on screen. 
Sir Richard Michaels:
I’m not sure if it will dominate the tech scene, but I don’t doubt that it will have a significant part in it. This is attracting the younger generation, and in a few years, I’m sure this younger generation will have jobs there. However, I don’t think Web 3 will completely replace Web 2, as it all depends on the growth and matter of adoption.
The metaverse is going to be a crypto hub – we can already see a lot of projects stemming from there now. It’s not that scary to me though. 
Sir Richard Michaels: 
Nope, I’ve never tried VR or AR gaming actually. My impression of it is that it’s still lacking in terms of providing an experience. I don’t like to wear those heavy headsets, and it’s too uncomfortable since I’m wearing glasses as well. However, I know that many brands are using AR tech to enhance their shopping experience. 
I’m very neutral about this, though I do think that if there’s something like an AR shopping experience on apps like Shopee would be a cool experience. 
Sir Richard Michaels: 
I think this lines back to my previous response. I think the era of digital assets is getting more popular, and there are technologies to support storing these assets in the blockchain. There are limitless opportunities for what are deemed as assets today, like plots of land or NFTs or art. 
In fact, NFTs are a much safer way as proof of ownership, and much more efficient. I can imagine in the future if plane tickets are sold as NFTs, or even concert tickets.  I like that idea, as it is much more convenient, and safe so we don’t lose it, and we can just show it in our wallet.
It could also grant access to business models where marketing can be done on the metaverse. Kanye West could gift Yeezys on this platform in terms of brand sponsorship. It could improve our day-to-day real-world utility. 
ALSO READ: Singapore High Court freezes sale and transfer of rare NFT
Sir Richard Michaels: 
I think this depends on how people view their online identity on the metaverse. Right now, people choose to spend on more expensive items as compared to cheaper alternatives, because of their brand. Look at Lululemon for example – people will choose to spend $200 on a jacket, compared to a brandless alternative with the same quality at ¼ of the price. Why? Because they care about how people perceive them. 
Maybe in 20 years, people will choose to spend more money to build up their avatar and online identity? Who knows? 
It also depends on whether I see value in expressing myself there. If the cost to dye my hair IRL compared to the metaverse is the same, but I get more recognition online, why not spend that amount there instead? 
Sir Richard Michaels:
If people are willing to spend that much, I’m sure that piece of digital asset, be it land, art, coins or outfits, has real-world value. Though I don’t see myself doing that since it’s a risky choice, different crypto adaptors have a different spectrum of risks. 
I’m a big believer that brands are snapping these assets up, especially virtual land, because they see the potential. Can you imagine if Walmart can rent their plot of virtual land or undergo “en-bloc” in the future? The presence of big brands will attract smaller brands to join and then it sets a new tone for commercialism.
Not just that, new jobs can be sprouted. People are already playing for the guild and putting money into esports by investing in their favourite players. This can really change the gaming and entertainment industry. Now consumers can have a stake in their favourite teams. Servers like Twitch will definitely be more useful if that’s the case.  
Sir Richard Michaels:
At its peak, I can see that AR will be a big part of our daily lives, from transactions to bigger key investments and also when it comes to buying and banking on the metaverse. 
It might also become part of our identity, and represents a piece of us in the digital world. Smart contracts could be adopted, whereas businesses have to evolve to keep pace with the new technology. Some countries are already adopting it, with government bodies already putting restrictions, regulations and red tapes on it. 
If you give it some time, I don’t doubt that it will grow and we would eventually accept cryptocurrency as a currency for daily usage. 
Sir Richard Michaels: 
I think this links back to my previous response. I don’t think Web 3 will ever replace Web 2, but it will definitely have a heavy impact on the tech scene and how we engage with technology.
It also boils down to how we adapt to it. 
ALSO READ: What is an NFT? A beginner's guide to creating and buying NFTs in Singapore
Sir Richard Michaels:
They are forgetting the fact that technology only evolves and advances. We went from Web 1 to Web 2 and now we are approaching Web 3. They are not seeing the evolution of tech over time, like the boomers back in the days. 
However, you can see that boomers have integrated themselves into the internet well, what with the use of WhatsApp, Facebook and playing Candy Crush. I think they are not seeing it for what it is right now. 
It’s fascinating to see how others perceive the future of crypto and digital real estate – especially with the gilding community, rise of e-sports and changing how we transact every day. 
One thing that he said really stood out to me; technology will never move backwards, it only goes forward and in a way that people want it to go. Does it seems like the metaverse will be our next step forward?
What do you guys think? Share your thoughts with me and hope to see y’all in the metaverse soon. 
Shoutout: Thank you Sir Richard Michaels for your time and insightful thoughts! 
This article was first published in Stackedhomes.

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Lamina1 Presents Inaugural “Open Metaverse Conference” Connecting the Worlds of Blockchain and the Metaverse for a Next-Gen Internet – Business Wire

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Featuring a keynote from co-founder and futurist Neal Stephenson, the first-of-its-kind event aims to empower creators and coders to build the Open Metaverse together
LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Lamina1, a Layer 1 blockchain optimized for the Open Metaverse, today announced its role as founding sponsor of the Open Metaverse Conference, a first-of-its-kind industry event bringing together the worlds of the Metaverse and Web3 to build a more open and immersive Internet. The two-day conference will take place from February 8-9, 2023 in Los Angeles, California, and will gather experts and builders spanning Metaverse experiences, Web3, and entertainment.

Co-founded by Neal Stephenson, renowned futurist and science fiction author who originally coined the term “Metaverse,” and cryptocurrency pioneer Peter Vessenes, founder of the first VC-backed Bitcoin company, Lamina1 will provide the infrastructure to empower rapid expansion of the Open Metaverse. As the founding sponsor of the Open Metaverse Conference, Lamina1 will provide a forum for critical conversations around identity, privacy and interoperability, while exploring how audience engagement, creative storytelling, and the technicalities of blockchain can work hand-in-hand to make the vision of the Open Metaverse a reality.
The Open Metaverse Conference will feature keynotes from renowned technologists and storytellers who are pioneering visions for the next era of the Internet. Attendees will hear from Lamina1 co-founders Neal Stephenson and Peter Vessenes, as well as Philip Rosedale, founder of virtual world Second Life (Linden Lab) and co-founder of virtual platform High Fidelity, John Gaeta, Oscar-winning VFX pioneer (The Matrix) and CCO of character persona company Inworld AI, Cathy Hackl, Metaverse and Web3 strategist and founder of design consultancy Journey, and other industry crossover leaders to be announced. Keynote sessions will be complemented by diverse speakers and side events spanning games, art, entertainment, and commerce. To connect these key areas of culture with the technology that enables them, the Open Metaverse Conference will also facilitate technological deep dives for attendees from leaders in Web3, immersive computing, and technology standards groups. Presenting partners include the Metaverse Standards Forum, the Open Metaverse Interoperability Group, and the Open Metaverse Alliance for Web3 (OMA3), all organizations fostering interoperability.
“We are at a moment in time when developers, creatives, and producers can finally design the seamless and persistent experiences we’ve dreamed about,” said Jamil Moledina, Vice President of Games Partnerships and Media at Lamina1. “The Open Metaverse Conference will serve as the big tent for everyone who’s thinking about creating never-before-possible experiences that allow creators and consumers to enter unique virtual worlds on a level playing field.”
“OMA3 is pleased to collaborate with Lamina1 and the Open Metaverse Conference in promoting interoperability,” said Robby Yung, CEO of Animoca Brands. “OMA3 looks forward to developing talk tracks to encourage the creation of a more open and immersive internet.”
The conference will encourage interdisciplinary dialogue through debates, pitch sessions, roundtable discussions, and networking opportunities to help drive new ideas and connections.
“We felt a real sense of urgency to facilitate discussion with our colleagues and creators across the spectrum,” said Rebecca Barkin, President of Lamina1. “We know that the Open Metaverse will be built collaboratively and with a set of shared values, and we’re happy to provide this forum to address the needs of the community and to solve big problems together.”
For more information on the Open Metaverse Conference, visit www.openmetaverseconf.com.
About Open Metaverse Conference 
The Open Metaverse Conference (OMC) is an industry-first event presented by Lamina1 focused on bringing together the Metaverse and blockchain technology. The conference gathers key stakeholders spanning developers, creatives, producers, product owners, and executives to ask and address big questions around the development of a truly Open Metaverse that leverages open-source, collaborative principles and blockchain decentralization.
About Lamina1 
Lamina1 is a Layer1 blockchain optimized for the Open Metaverse. The brainchild of legendary futurist Neal Stephenson (who first conceptualized the term “Metaverse” in his 1992 best-selling novel Snow Crash) and Peter Vessenes, a foundational leader in the crypto space from the early days of Bitcoin – Lamina1 is on a mission to deliver the blockchain technology, interoperating tools, and decentralized services that will establish it as the preferred destination for creators building a more immersive Internet. It is the first provably carbon-negative blockchain in the world.
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K.C. Maas
Wachsman
kc.maas@wachsman.com

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Facebook Founder, Zuckerberg Drops Out Of 10 Richest Men After Losing Half Of Fortunes – SaharaReporters.com

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According to Forbes, the Facebook founder has lost more than half his fortune—a staggering $76.8 billion—since September 2021, dropping him from No. 3 on The Forbes 400 list of the U.S.’ wealthiest people to No. 11. Worth $57.7 billion on this year’s list.
 
Meta chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg has lost his spot in the list as one of the 10 richest people in America.
According to Forbes, the Facebook founder has lost more than half his fortune—a staggering $76.8 billion—since September 2021, dropping him from No. 3 on The Forbes 400 list of the U.S.’ wealthiest people to No. 11. Worth $57.7 billion on this year’s list.
Zuck trails Walmart heir Jim Walton, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and other tech moguls such as ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. No one in America has lost as much money over the past year as Zuckerberg.
He has the cratering stock price of Meta (formerly Facebook) to thank for his exit from the top 10. Shares have plunged 57% since last year’s Forbes 400, which used stock prices from September 3, 2021. Tech stocks are generally in a slump with the market downturn, but Meta’s fall outpaces both the Nasdaq (-9.8%) and the S&P 500 (-13.5%), as well as Microsoft’s 14% decline, Google-parent Alphabet‘s 25% drop and Amazon’s 27% dive.
Investors are spooked by a privacy policy update from Apple last year that made it harder for tech companies to track users across apps, impacting Meta’s ad sales. Meta reported its first-ever quarterly revenue decline in July–a 1% drop, to $28.8 billion.
“Facebook makes most of its money from advertising, and now it just doesn’t have that data anymore,” says Mark Zgutowicz, an analyst at research and investment banking firm Benchmark.
“All those data signals went away, which basically means that advertisers are having trouble telling whether a campaign was successful or not.”
Compounding the problem for Meta, TikTok is luring away advertisers, along with lucrative Gen Z and millennial users. In February, Meta announced its first-ever quarterly loss of daily active users. A recent internal report showed that Meta’s TikTok clone, Instagram Reels, is struggling to compete, according to Wall Street Journal report.
Under normal circumstances, a slight dip in revenue might be manageable, but Meta is also investing heavily in virtual reality and the metaverse, which is dragging down operating profit. In 2021, the company’s metaverse division, Meta Reality Labs, lost $10 billion. While the metaverse is all Zuckerberg wants to talk about, investors are less enthusiastic so far. “It’s a long tail investment and, for now, it’s kind of a cash suck,” Zgutowicz says.
Zuckerberg first became a billionaire in 2008, just four years after founding Facebook. At 23, he was the youngest self-made billionaire at the time, debuting at No. 321 on The Forbes 400, worth $1.5 billion. By 2011, Zuckerberg’s net worth had increased nearly 12 fold to $17.5 billion.
This year isn’t the first time Zuckerberg’s net worth has taken a dive. After Facebook’s famously disappointing IPO in 2012, Zuckerberg fell from No. 14 to No. 36 on The Forbes 400. But it didn’t last long. The following year, Zuckerberg bounced back and, up until now, his fortune has continued to climb. Despite the litany of controversies and scandals plaguing the company, Facebook’s ad machine had reliably churned out enough money to impress investors, sending Zuckerberg’s net worth soaring to $134.5 billion last year, his highest net worth ever.
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Disney CEO Bob Chapek plotting a metaverse for Disney+ that will recreate their parks online – Daily Mail

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By Alex Oliveira For Dailymail.Com
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Disney is plotting a metaverse that would let people experience the most magical place on earth without ever setting foot in the theme park.
CEO Bob Chapek said the media giant’s metaverse would exist on its streaming platform, Disney+, and allow ‘the 90 percent of people that will never ever be able to get to a Disney park,’ to experience it in virtual reality.
‘We call it next-gen storytelling’ Chapek said in an interview with Deadline, noting that he didn’t like use the phrase metaverse ‘because it has a lot of hair on it.’
But regardless of whatever Chapek prefers to call the planned platform, many have responded by calling the move out of touch with Disney’s fanbase, and argued that if the parks stopped hiking prices more people would be able to visit.  
The move comes as Chapek – who took the helm at Disney in 2020 – struggles to make a name for himself in the shadow of his innovative predecessor, Bob Iger, and keep afloat amid controversies ranging from the park’s rising prices, to Disney’s stance on Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill. 
Just last week, Chapek broke a months-long silence on an apology he issued in an attempt to quell Disney staff who were outraged by his failure to speak out against the controversial bill last spring, saying he chose to remain mum on the matter because he didn’t want to get Disney caught in a ‘political subterfuge.’ 
Disney CEO Bob Chapek said the media giant’s metaverse would exist on its streaming platform, Disney+, and allow people to experience park rides in virtual reality
Disney’s metaverse move comes as Chapek – who took the helm at Disney in 2020 – struggles to make a name for himself in the shadow of his innovative predecessor, Bob Iger
Chapek characterized the Disney metaverse as a way to experience the theme parks for the multitudes of people who are unable to actually make the trip in person.
‘We wish every person would have the opportunity to come to our parks, but we realize that’s not a reality for some people,’ he told Deadline, ‘we have before us an opportunity to turn what was a movie-service platform to an experiential platform and give them the ability to ride Haunted Mansion from a virtual standpoint.’
He said metaverse users would have an experience beyond what regular parkgoers have, and be able to step out of the ride-cars to explore sets and interact with characters. 
‘Maybe we’ll give them the opportunity what every single person in the park wants to do, and unfortunately too many of them do it, just to get off the attraction. See how it works, see how those ghost dancers move,’ he said. 

But many responded to the news by saying if Disney would just stop raising its prices, more of those 90 percent of people who cannot visit the parks would be able to.
‘Damn Disney. Just say it direct like that,’ wrote tech critic Juan Carlos Bagnell on Twitter, ‘90% of the HUMAN POPULATION is too poor to visit our parks, but hopefully some are less-poor-enough to own VR goggles and ride our rides in a metaverse clone…’
Commenters on the Deadline interview were equally unimpressed, with one saying ‘The reason 90% of people may not be able to experience the parks is because you keep hiking the cost of GOING to the parks beyond what most people can actually afford, Bob.’
‘Costs are up at the parks. Moral appears to be down. Iger had imagination and could adapt,’ said another.

Disney park prices have skyrocketed since Chapek was fully given charge at Disney in 2022. At California parks, ticket prices jumped 6 percent to $164 for single-park passes, while the price of getting into more than one park over the course of a day rose 9 percent to $319.
At the Florida parks the price to get into the park after 2pm rose to $169, while before 2pm fans were asked to fork over $194. Those prices could also rise based on an increased demand on any day.
‘If you’re the kind of person that budgets or saves for vacations, Disney Parks aren’t for you any longer,’ wrote a fed-up customer on Reddit, ‘That’s a Premium Physical Experience, and there’s plenty of national and international wealthy families to afford going indefinitely.’
And in August, as inflation scorched the US economy, Chapek warned those prices could continue to rise.
‘It’s all up to the consumer,’ he said, according to The New York Post, ‘If consumer demand keeps up, we’ll act accordingly.’
Disney’s metaverse would allow people to experience park rides like the Haunted Mansion without ever setting foot in Disney World
Chapek noted the virtual reality experience could go beyond simply sitting in the car and experiencing the ride the way park-goers do, but would allow people to step off of the tracks and explore the ride sets up close
Chapek has hardly been the happiest CEO on Earth since he took the reins at Disney.
After beginning his tenure in February, 2020, he was thrust immediately into the chaos of navigating Disney through the perils of the pandemic, which saw the media company’s primary revenue streams – theme park revenue and movie theater tickets – vanish like a pair of glass slippers at midnight.
To help steady the ship, Iger – much to Chapek’s ire, reportedly – was kept on in a leadership position through 2021.
But as soon as Chapek was given full control in 2022 his price hikes had customers raising eyebrows about whether he was up to the same scratch as the visionary Iger.
Those doubts were doubled-down on by Disney staff after Chapek decided to remain quiet on Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill, a law which barred schools from discussing sexuality or gender with children between kindergarten and third grade.
Many Disney employees viewed the law as homophobic and an affront to the inclusive values of Disney, and publicly voiced their outrage that Chapek did not speak out against it.
Chapek said the metaverse would also work in conjunction with real-world visits to Disney theme parks
Disney is plotting a metaverse that would let people experience the most magical place on earth without ever setting foot in the theme park
He later apologized to staff, publicly decried the bill, and announced Disney had paused all its political donations within Florida.
Last week, Chapek addressed that apology for the first time since he issued it, saying he had struggled to balance the needs and beliefs of every one of his employees and customers.
‘What we try to do is be everything to everybody,’ Chapek told The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview, ‘That tends to be very difficult because we’re The Walt Disney Company.’
‘We certainly don’t want to get caught up in any political subterfuge, but at the same time we also realize that we want to represent a brighter tomorrow for families of all types, regardless of how they define themselves,’ he said.

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Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group

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