Europe’s metacosmic dreams are full and the reality is very bone-chilling.
Europe’s metacosmic dreams are full and the reality is very bone-chilling. From the current point of view, if Europe wants to further develop the Metaverse, it needs to solve many problems such as talent, capital and innovation.
Europe’s businesses, investors and talent are all vying for tickets to the Metaverse’s hype trains, and even many heavyweights are no exception.
French President Emmanuel Macron, for example, wants to create a “Europa universe” that challenges the tech giants of the United States and China. Meanwhile, Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s executive vice-president for digital affairs in the EU, is considering new antitrust regulations.
But the reality that needs to be recognized is that Europe’s metacosmic dream is still a long way from the dream come true.
Rolf Illenberger, co-founder of VRdirect, a virtual reality platform in Munich, said: “The reality is that no major European tech company is connected to the Metaverse of the future. The Metaverse is dominated by players in the United States and Asia and will be developed in both regions. ”
In the U.S., tech giants such as Meta, Microsoft, and Apple will be the protagonists, and Roblox and Decentraland have offered popular prototype Metaverse platforms. In Asia, ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok and VR brand Picco, is the strongest competitor, as are companies such as Huawei, Tencent and Sandbox.
In Europe, by contrast, the technology is largely limited to niche carriers and start-ups, such as Varjo, which makes high-end headphones in Finland, and Ready Player Me in Estonia. The latter, a cross-game virtual character platform, recently secured a $56 million funding round led by venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz.
Jake Stott, CEO of Web3 and Metacosmic advertising agency Hype, is optimistic that in the future, the European fintech industry is likely to see payment providers in this space, but he acknowledges that they face significant challenges. “Historically, European startups have lagged behind the U.S. and Asia when it comes to nurturing unicorns. Europe also lags behind the United States in terms of venture financing. Governments may be able to provide support in these areas, helping Europe’s fledgling metacosmic ecosystem by removing barriers to growth and stimulating venture capital. ”
The dream of the European metacosm is difficult for talents
Finnish entrepreneur Petri Rajahalme and his partner Dave Hayes recently founded FOV Ventures, Europe’s first venture capital firm dedicated to investing in early Metaverse companies. In March, the two announced a funding of €25 million to start-ups in the early or seedling stages.
Rajalhlme said: “We don’t lack talent, that’s for sure. If you look back at the history of M&A deals, you will find that many companies that have been acquired by American companies have talents from Europe… The big question is, how do you keep these talents in Europe? ”
Currently, while Finland offers free and high-quality education, it can’t compare with Silicon Valley in terms of salaries. Even if the EU giants can provide a certain amount of support, the application is very time-consuming and the funds are limited. FOV Ventures prefers to retain talent in Europe by providing early funding and go-to-market expertise.
The key to this strategy is the need for a “edge network” of metacosmological professionals with known players, such as Meta and Decentraland, who can provide funding and advice for working with large platforms.
Rajahalme also hopes that European investors will work together to challenge U.S. resources. “As VC firms, we should strengthen our collaboration within Europe, share knowledge and insights, and provide help at the bottom. It’s a big wave, it’s just beginning, and we have to get more and more people involved. ”
It is reported that Rajahalme has been in contact with the Metaverse since 2016, but he admitted that the Metaverse began to quietly enter the mainstream track after Facebook changed its name to Meta.
But this does not mean that everyone now fully understands what the metacosm is, in fact, the vague concept of the metacosm presents both problems and opportunities.
Metaverse suppliers are just “old wine in new bottles”?
Members of both the European Commission and Parliament have called for regulation of the Metaverse, but the problem is that they are not yet clear exactly what they are regulating. Speaking at a recent roundtable, MEP MP Axel Voss said: “As a lawmaker, we now have to think about how to regulate what doesn’t exist, or what already exists but is smaller. ”
What exactly is the Metaverse?
In fact, there are many definitions about the metacosm. The term Metaverse first appeared in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel Avalanche, in which Neal Stephenson described real-life networks as “3D Internet.” Zuckerberg envisioned “a virtual environment where you can live with people in the digital space” and “a physical Internet in which you are and not just on the sidelines.”
Rajahalme prefers investor Matthew Ball’s description of the Metaverse: “A large-scale, interoperable, real-time rendered 3D virtual world network that allows countless users to experience synchronously and continuously, with a sense of personal presence, and data continuity such as identity, history, rights, objects, communications, and payments.” ”
This ambitious vision is already slowly being realized, and some applications, such as online gaming, have helped various European ecosystems to play to their strengths. For example, the Nordic countries can take advantage of the excellent gaming industry, while Germany’s industrial economy provides a favorable basis for B2B services in the Metaverse.
Critics, however, argue that many metacosmic vendors are simply repackaging existing technologies with an all-encompassing buzzword, and that the various scattered applications are far from being integrated.
VRdirect founder Illenberger is skeptical of the decentralization of the Metaverse, predicting that big tech companies in China and the U.S. will remain gatekeepers of mainstream platforms. “It could be Meta, it could be Apple, it could be ByteDance — they’re going to control the ecosystem.” If you’re an app developer, you can build an app for Varjo, but your target audience will be very small, so you’ll be developing apps for Meta and Apple. ”
These future metacosmic dominants are becoming targets for EU lawmakers who see strong data protection and antitrust regulation as a competitive advantage.
But not everyone thinks so.
Eurometacosmic innovation is hampered
Some Metaverse companies, developers and investors worry that EU regulation will hinder innovation.
Rajahalme, founder of FOV Ventures, shared an anecdote about the Symposium on the Development of Intelligence in the United States and Chinese Industries. EU delegates attending the meeting said their goal is to be the best regulator of AI. “It’s like when you start producing cars and the Europeans say they’re going to be the best manufacturers of stop signs,” he joked. ”
Illenberger has seen the drawbacks of harsh regulation.
For example, a virtual reality helmet that uses an external camera to identify its surroundings can easily violate the EU’s protection of personal privacy, as anyone can be accidentally photographed in the workplace.
In order to reduce the risk of non-compliance, large companies such as Siemens have launched special VR rooms for this purpose. However, these facilities are not convenient for some businesses, while others cannot afford them.
Illenberger said, “Even in compliance with European data privacy laws, the use of metacosmic technology can be a nightmare. In order for the equipment to function properly, you have to take pictures of the environment. ”
These rules can hinder innovation and push talent to Asia or the United States.
Write at the end
While European companies can play an important role in the metacosm, it would be whimsical to compete with global tech giants. Instead of fighting against existing companies, work with them for greater success. VRdirect, for example, already supports headsets designed by Meta, Picco, and HTC.
Illenberger sees this interoperability as an opportunity for market segments. He also believes his company could benefit from strict EU regulations because other businesses would favor the services he provides more than the Silicon Valley stalwart that ignores those rules. “In a way, it’s a competitive advantage for us. But that’s a big obstacle compared to the U.S. and Asia. ”
As for the Eurovision of the metacosmology — competing with tech giants while protecting Europe’s rules and culture — that’s just a good wish.
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