Investors who are in the front line, strip the cocoons, and reveal the secrets of the venture capital circle. Look for sensibility outside of rationality, and receive calm in opinion.
I have never been to Clubhouse, I am not a Roblox gamer, and I have never experienced ARVR, but I believe you are familiar with the term “metaverse”.
This year, it quickly became popular and was selected as one of the top ten Internet terms in 2021 (1). The “Metaverse” originated from the science fiction novel “Avalanche” in 1992. By 2021, when Roblox went public and Facebook changed its name to Meta, it was pushed to the top, and it was almost occupied in just a few months. headlines in major media.
When the huge impact of the epidemic collided with the lackluster technology industry, the countless reasons behind it were enough to push the Metaverse to its peak, and it also found a new outlet for giant companies, secondary markets, media, and brands, allowing the “Metaverse” “It has become a topic that everyone can’t live without.
Is the “metaverse” with its own popularity the integration of the current cutting-edge technology concepts, or the concept of the future digital world? Can the real economic interests behind this be sustainable? Is there any experience that can be used for reference in production and life?
In this issue, we invite Zhuang Minghao , an observer of the content industry , to discuss the perceptual process of cognitive metaverse. Take a look!
Effervescent: From game live broadcast to e-sports, from Matrix Partners to content industry observers, what is your secret to enduring popularity?
Zhuang Minghao: Socializing is a very important ability for VC practitioners, but not everyone likes socializing. For introverted or rational practitioners, my advice to a lot of people is to try to write. VC work will force a lot of input from practitioners. Faced with many emerging industries and models, we will always have our own perceptions and ideas.
Many times when we see and think of some things, we feel that they have some signs at this time point, and then we continue to communicate and communicate with entrepreneurs or practitioners, and gradually produce a clearer logical analysis framework and organize them into our own cognition. At the moment (I) may not expect any feedback from this, but the process of organizing the content itself is enough, and I enjoy it.
I have been insisting on this matter since my work, and it may form a positive cycle after a long time, so it is seen and recognized by more and more people. Many times you will find that you may not be the earliest (that one) or the most profound (that one), but you are just willing to express and keep precipitating.
Steve Jobs said that “all the pieces of life will somehow connect at some point in the future”, and I’m a big believer in that.What you are experiencing now does not know where these “dots” will be connected in the future, but when you look back ten or twenty years later, you will find that the “dots” that seemed unrelated before became this line. become who you are today.
Effervescent: What prompted you to turn your attention to the metaverse? Are you one of the first people in China to pay attention to this field?
Zhuang Minghao: “As a classical Internet investor, what should I look at?” This is a very real problem I faced after returning to Jingwei from Panda in 2019 . From a pessimistic and rational point of view, everyone actually started planning the next step very early. Some go to see consumption, some go to the new world of blockchain, and some go to big factories for industrial investment. When I was still a VC for 20 years, although I also invested in some projects, there was no systematic system and clear context.
If we must find the core “theme”, I talked about two internally at the time. The one in front of me is the voice, while the poetry and the distance are based on the iteration and development of the technical level, and the superimposed technologies may create some new things. At that time, it was about Q3 of the 20th year, and the concept of the Metaverse and Metaverse had not been mentioned by so many people. My feeling was similar to the scene of putting on a game device and entering the SAO world in “Sword Art Online”. Including the report I wrote about virtual idols when I looked back today, I found that a lot of logic at that time was the same as the metaverse that everyone is discussing today. The core logic is the business model change caused by technological change.
The opportunity to attract further attention may be the heated discussion about Clubhouse during the Spring Festival.There are many people who are concerned about the cutting-edge fields, especially represented by blockchain and game practitioners, and the thing that everyone talks about becomes the Metaverse, and then I realize that I am not the only one who thinks so.
In the process, Roblox went public. The attention of American technology companies (to this concept) and the investments made by domestic top VCs before the concept appeared, whether right or wrong, have basically formed the consensus of all leading Internet VCs. Then everyone discovered that these companies invested in the past 1-2 years actually belonged to the concept of Metaverse, and suddenly this perception became a consensus.
This cycle is very short, only about 3-4 months, and it has instantly become the consensus of everyone from the media, analysts, secondary markets, and leading technology giants in China and the United States. At the beginning, I didn’t realize that such a wide-ranging consensus could be formed. It may be that the impact of the epidemic and the lack of good in the technology industry, the gathering of various reasons has reached such a hot level.
How should we understand the metaverse?
Metaverse, this may be a world with thousands of people and thousands of faces.
Luo Yonghao’s Weibo reposted the Twitter of American technology blogger Shaan Puri. Puri believes that the metaverse is not a certain place or platform (Place), but a certain moment (Moment), as people’s attention shifts from real life to The Internet also means that we are getting closer and closer to the metaverse. In the eyes of NFT practitioners, the metaverse is a matter of asset confirmation. And Xu Tong, founder of Maoyan Movies and investment partner of ZhenFund, believes that the metaverse is a concept, not an opportunity, but a series of changes brought by the new generation of computing equipment to everyone’s work and life.
Effervescent: Which point of view do you agree with more? If you use one sentence or an analogy to introduce the metaverse, how would you describe the current situation?
Zhuang Minghao: At first I thought the word was all-encompassing. A relatively narrow understanding of Metaverse may be a 3D virtual online community, and a broad understanding may be the next-generation Internet. Everyone’s perception of this matter is different, and whether it is the spatial dimension or the time dimension may not be important at this point in time today.
We also don’t need to explain to anyone what the metaverse is, or standardize, unify definitions. We can look at what has happened in the past 20 years and what we have experienced, especially with technology and the Internet. So look forward 20 years from today and imagine what it will be like. I think most people deduce their own understanding of the metaverse.
As Netease’s Ding Lei said, they have made a lot of technical preparations. (Even if) there was no metaverse, a lot of technology and product functionality was in the works. And the keyword “metaverse” just describes what’s going on, making it more acceptable to everyone.
This concept is “needed” by all. Investors need it, entrepreneurs need it, listed companies need it, and so do giants. It conforms to the foundation of the underlying consensus, so it can reach a wide range of acceptance.
Effervescent: How long do you think we’re going to be in the real metaverse, the world of ready-to-play, runaway players?
Zhuang Minghao: If we define the visualization needs as in the movie, maybe 10 years or so is enough. Of course, there will still be many paradoxes. Before many technical solutions are solved, it may not be able to achieve that ideal state, and the real qualitative change has not yet come.
When Venezuelans enter the metaverse – how far is the real world from the virtual economy?
Venezuelans can earn money to maintain household expenses in the game through the gold game “RuneScape”, while the NFT game “Axie Infinity” has a phenomenon of “human-to-human transmission” in a poor community in the Philippines, and has gradually become a source of income for many people … Social factors such as currency instability, unprofitable real economy, and high unemployment have pushed people into the metaverse.
Effervescent: Would such a gold farmer be the beneficiary of the Metaverse? Or will it become cannon fodder or leeks?
Zhuang Minghao : The existence of chain games is reasonable from a certain point of view. The commercialization of many emerging technologies often starts with games. There are still very few people who have really entered the new world of chain games. Regardless of foreign or domestic, gold workers have become more industrialized, and it has become a technical confrontation through scripts and computers. In the coquettish and unusual new world of chain games, impact and reshaping will always exist. This wave of pure manpower will not be around for a long time. Just like when our reform and opening up was just beginning, Adi and Nike would put their foundries in China. Today, they will transfer their foundries to Vietnam and Southeast Asia, where labor costs are lower. The place is the same.
The distinction between the old and the new world is becoming more and more blurred, and there is no way to define right and wrong. In June of this year, El Salvador announced that it became the first country in the world to recognize Bitcoin as legal tender, which brought a short-term Bitcoin surge. And this surge of Bitcoin may be related to the recent surge in housing prices in Turkey. It is not clear whether the fluctuation affects the real economy whether it wins or loses.
When the collapse of fiat currency, inflation, currency over-issuance, and the impact of the epidemic are combined, do people have to find a sense of existence in the real world? At the spiritual and economic level, even if there is no chain game, there may be something to make this kind of appeal possible.
Effervescence: Will there be a day when the metaverse and the real economy will compete? Will the labor cost of the virtual world still be based on time, knowledge, and skills themselves? Will the expression of human value become more and more singular?
Zhuang Minghao: This is a philosophical question. In an extreme evolutionary state, it is likely to become this way, but it will take a long time. Just like mining, the cost to consider is more of the machine, computing power, architecture, and CPU. If you add AI, it may really be the same as in the movie “Westworld”, whether it is human or not. important. Under extreme conditions, people become dry batteries, as long as they contribute to the computing power of the brain. Just as Venezuelans are doing, give their brains, time and mouse clicks to earn a little bit of income to support their families.
Effervescent: Many brands try to use the concept of the metaverse to surround users. What do you think are the deviations/errors in these brands’ understanding of the metaverse?
Zhuang Minghao: Not to mention mistakes, everyone gets what they need. The leeks should be cut, and the rubs should be rubbed.
In 2016, Wang Xing mentioned that the element of competition in the second half of China’s Internet has changed from the number of users to time, and the next level has become money. User volume * user time * user money = platform value. China has exceeded 1 billion smart terminals for many years, and this number has not increased much. According to QuestMobile’s statistics, the online time of users reached 7.2 hours during the epidemic last year, and now it has dropped back to about 6 hours, and this data is still growing slowly.
We can understand the epidemic period as an extreme test at this stage, but there are only 24 hours in a day, and a person spends most of the rest of his time on it except sleeping. From the perspective of time, the first thing to grab is the time and spiritual consumption of playing games, watching live broadcasts, and virtual worlds. When the time runs out and virtual consumption is also affected by the epidemic and there are problems, everyone starts to grab money for food, drink and Lazard. So in the past two years, live e-commerce has developed wildly, and these are all connected.
Effervescent: From the perspective of social development, what will be the impact of the Metaverse on different industrial chains? For example, in the production of content, has the threshold of practitioners gradually increased, and what will it be like in the metaverse era?
Zhuang Minghao: I thought so too, but after thinking about it, I actually lowered it. High-quality content is a scarce commodity, and the core creativity has become more important.
The reason for the rapid rise of short videos is that the threshold for video production has become lower. There are many people in China today who cannot write 1,000-word essays, but if they shoot a 15-second short video, there is a high probability that they can be shot. of. Therefore, to a certain extent, future evolution may not require shooting, and what the eye sees or thinks may become achievable.
We are looking at the changes in the field of sound recently, and voice to music has emerged, that is, AI can turn a few simple notes into a beautiful piece of music. Including what Nvidia is doing now, you can directly use AI to render a masterpiece of art by drawing two mountains or stones. This may be the way of implementation in the future, and even as long as the picture imagined in the mind is simply input, the system can use AI to generate visual things immediately.
Effervescent: Why is AR/VR now similar to what it was in 15 or 16 years? Is this a sign of not advancing and retreating?
Zhuang Minghao: With glasses as a carrier, the phased technology may have reached the physical limit. However, through AR/VR devices, it will take some time to bridge the gap between the user’s “realistic” experience level and the technical supply level.
What we have learned in the past is mobile phone + cardboard box, but this is completely different from today’s Ocuclus Quest 2, although Ocuclus Quest 2 still has some distance and difficulty to achieve the ideal state of high realism. As hardware, the development of VR glasses itself needs to gather a number of constantly developing high-tech, such as weight, battery heating, dizziness and other shortcomings, which need to be solved before they can be broken through.
Effervescent: Chaos means infinite possibilities. Do you think it is possible for us to overtake in hard technology?
Zhuang Minghao: At present, there are good attempts in the technical capabilities and research and development of hardware in China. The probability and difficulty of breakthroughs in the traditional chip field are relatively large. From the perspective of mobile phones, it is very difficult to surpass the real CPU and Qualcomm. However, these chips that are biased towards the image layer and the AI layer may have a lot to play. China has opportunities in the field of special scenes. Because there are enough scene applications and manufacturers in China, such as autonomous driving, there are also opportunities.
Metaverse faction VS spaceship faction – virtual reality or sea of stars?
“There are two paths in front of human beings. One is outward, leading to the sea of stars; the other is inward, leading to virtual reality.” –Liu Cixin
The virtual architect Liu Cixin mentioned that the virtual world is a very tempting and highly hallucinogenic “spiritual opium”. The future should be to explore the virtual universe, or to explore interstellar civilization. Is it Facebook called Meta, or Musk’s SpaceX, Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard’s Virgin Galactic?
Effervescent: Will this be a black-and-white question, what do you think?
Zhuang Minghao: What is the future of mankind? Going a step further, when we explore the sea of stars, must we be exploring in the flesh? Can brain waves be used to explore? In fact, there may be no conflict. Everyone may think too concretely, the problem itself may not be so extreme, and the virtual world will not be just entertainment.
(1): Published by the National Language Resources Monitoring and Research Center on December 6
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