Matthew Ball: The closest company to the Metaverse today is in China

You may have been tired of the word “Metaverse”, but you must not want to miss this man’s insights on the Metaverse . He is Matthew Ball, who is known as the forerunner of the Metaverse and the father of business in the Metaverse – Author of Time magazine’s August cover story and Bloomberg Businessweek’s September cover. Ball is the managing partner of Epyllion Co., an investment firm focused on investing in the film, film and game fields, and the founder and CEO of Ball Metaverse Research Partners, an investment firm in the Metaverse field. He also serves as an industry consultant for the American PE giant KKR.

As early as 2018, 3 years before the Metaverse became popular in the venture capital circle last year, Matthew Ball had published many articles on the Metaverse on the Internet, which had a profound impact on the Metaverse today. Innovative minds such as ambitious Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and game company Epic founder Tim Sweeney.

Some say the Metaverse and web3 are the future of the internet, others conclude that the Metaverse is a bubble from Zuckerberg’s terrible new Metaverse avatar; there are reports that the first Metaverse companies are running out of wages , there are also recent news reports that some young people in the Metaverse industry have achieved financial freedom early by virtue of their emerging careers – such differences are unified in the fact that “the Metaverse is full of uncertainty”. And in his new book, “The Metaverse Changes Everything,” Matthew Ball argues that this uncertainty is not a flaw, just as if you were to tell people 20 years ago how the Internet is being used today, they would have believed it, so Confusion and uncertainty are not terrible, on the contrary “confusion is an important feature of all subversives”.

The Metaverse concept has been all the rage for nearly a year, and the term has been around for 30 years.According to Bloomberg statistics, it published more than a thousand articles containing the word “Metaverse” last year, while the word Metaverse appeared less than 10 times in the previous 10 years. In his new book, Matthew Ball, for the first time in history, gives a clear definition of the term “Metaverse” from the 1992 science fiction novel “Avalanche”: large-scale, interoperable networks capable of Real-time rendering of 3D virtual worlds enables a wireless number of users and individuals to experience real-time synchronization and a continuously effective sense of presence with the help of massive amounts of continuous data such as identities, histories, rights, objects, communications, and payments.

Such a definition may seem incomprehensible. Let’s consider this point of view from another angle. Matthew Ball believes that the company closest to the Metaverse in the world today seems to be China’s Tencent. In Ball’s view, Tencent’s business is complex and wide-ranging. It is the Chinese agent for many international games. Tencent owns WeChat, one of the most popular and important communication methods in the world, and has established its own digital payment network. WeChat Pay, for example, despite not resorting to coercion, has managed to at least influence, control and operate many of the most important platforms in China today, achieving interoperability in many fields… Now you understand the Metaverse ?

When comparing with the often mentioned web3 and blockchain, Ball pointed out that the Metaverse is not web3, and the Metaverse does not necessarily need to use blockchain technology, but there is a connection between the three. Metaverse and web3 may appear at the same time.

After giving a precise definition, Matthew Bauer in the second part of the book “Metaverse Changes Everything” focuses on computing power bandwidth, platform engine, interoperability, hardware entry, payment methods and even blockchain It elaborates on how to build the Metaverse from multiple perspectives. In addition, he believes that although everyone’s attention is currently focused on the technology giants who are betting on the Metaverse, we should place our hopes on small and medium-sized innovative companies, and we “should hope that the development of the Metaverse will be led by these groups (small and medium-sized enterprises). Enterprises) and become the main beneficiaries, rather than being driven by large corporations.” Bauer believes that the future of every country, every industry, and everyone will be profoundly affected by the Metaverse, and the Metaverse will eventually Rewrite a brief history of the future of mankind.

Matthew Ball: The closest company to the Metaverse today is in China

Matthew Ball

From the realization of the grand Metaverse vision to the discussion of specific technical details, when “Metaverse Changes Everything” was recently launched in China, Matthew Ball accepted an exclusive audio interview with 36氪. The following is the interview transcript, edited :

36氪: Let’s start with the Metaverse definition you gave in the book. You precisely defined the Metaverse with 8 elements, namely virtual world, 3D, real-time rendering, interactive network, massive expansion, persistence, synchronization Sex, unlimited users and individual existence, are these elements equally important in your opinion?

Matthew Ball: That’s a good question. I wouldn’t say they are equally important because there are practical considerations, like, or let me put it another way. Each of these elements is important, but the difference is how important they are. For example, we know that “persistence” is important to the Metaverse, but an independent question that extends from this is how much information we need to have such persistence. I give an example of a specific environment in the book. We believe that if the user changes the environment, the environment needs to reflect those changes indefinitely, but some small changes may be less important.For example, footprints in the snow. We know that footprints in the real world don’t last forever, so in this case, that persistence in the strict sense may not be particularly important.

But better examples might be terms like “effectively an infinite number of users” because we can easily imagine how many people can be in a given virtual experience at one time, In reality, there is a limit on the actual number of people. That’s why I use the term “effectively infinity” because it’s unlikely that all 8 billion people on Earth would want to physically participate in a particular Metaverse experience at the same time.

So it is important that we achieve as many of these elements as possible, but some of these elements are relatively more important or essential. For example, the Metaverse needs to be experienced in sync, or we can’t share it together. The Metaverse also needs to be constructed as a network of virtual worlds, otherwise we’re just talking about a single virtual experience. It needs to be real-time, otherwise it can’t be affected. I also think that the Metaverse has to be 3D, not only because of specific use cases, but also because only then can we distinguish it from today’s internet. Some people say the Metaverse doesn’t have to be 3D, but it seems to me if they’re right, we’re talking about an internet and not a Metaverse, we’re not talking about a revolution, nor Not talking about a whole new experience and a lot of other new elements that are emerging.

36氪: So can we think that the biggest difference between the Metaverse and the current Internet is whether it is 3D or not?

Matthew Ball: I would say that the difference at the core level is actually three different things. First, the Metaverse is 3D in interface and data. Second, the Metaverse is real-time. It’s where we get into sync and real-time. And today’s internet is not real-time, it’s mostly statically synchronized, and thirdly, it’s a network of virtual experiences – which is important because although we have 3D experiences on the internet today, and synchronised experiences, these virtual There is no networking between experiences. So, I would say that the three elements of 3D, real-time synchronization, and virtual networking are at the heart of my Metaverse definition.

36氪: Can you explain to us the difference between the Metaverse, Web 3, and Blockchain?

Matthew Ball: No problem. The Metaverse is an inherited form of today’s Internet, and its core is that it is a 3D, real-time synchronized virtual network. Web3, on the other hand, describes a decentralized version of the Internet, which is currently basically presented in the form of the Internet of Blockchains. But of course, the principles of Web3 can be applied to different technologies, so we should consider Web3 to be independent of the blockchain, even though these two concepts are actually the same thing at the moment.

Metaverse and web3, these two concepts are often confused because the Metaverse is often described as the next generation of the Internet, and web3 is also defined as the successor of today’s Internet, so responsive to the same thing or two transformations of the same network Naturally, people get mixed up and talk about it, but there is a difference between them. The end result may be that the Metaverse needs blockchain technology, but it is also possible that the Metaverse does not need blockchain technology, but is using blockchain technology extensively. We may also find that the principles of web3 are not strictly required by the Metaverse, but that web3 has the potential to help create the most prosperous and healthy Metaverse.

36 Krypton: We have known the concept of the Metaverse for many years, but why does it seem like it has become a hot and talked about topic since last year? Many people call you the “Father of Metaverse Business”. We know that you have been following the Metaverse for a long time. Can you briefly introduce your journey to this field?

Matthew Ball: As I say in the book, the term Metaverse is 30 years old. But the idea has been in science fiction and the popular imagination for nearly a century. For about 70 years, efforts have been made to construct an early version of the Metaverse. In fact, the Metaverse we are trying to build today is also based on many earlier innovations, and certainly absorbed some of the caveats of those earlier innovations.

My personal journey of discovery is as follows.

Since the 1990s, when I started to understand these terms of the Metaverse, I have been fascinated by the new consumer technology stories being told in the virtual world, and especially the ways in which these consumer technologies are changing. But specifically, it was my experience playing Fortnite and using the Roblox platform in 2018 that led me to conclude that the idea of ​​a Metaverse, long considered a whimsical idea, was more than a real opportunity. , but that it is unfolding around us so that we can already see and feel it. It was around that time that I started actively researching the field, publishing my first Metaverse article online. Before the pandemic started, I published two more articles, which brought a lot of attention to the term.

As for the popularity of the Metaverse concept today, it actually reflects the maturity of many different technologies at the same time. Like what we’ve seen over the past five to six years, the widespread deployment of high-performance GPUs and CPUs enables large groups of people to collaborate in virtual spaces. Not coincidentally, as these capabilities unfold, we’re seeing the gaming world also move towards new social video game genres, as well as sandbox games like Roblox. At the same time, smartphones have gone from being a device owned by less than one-third of the world to being owned by more than two-thirds of the world and expanding networks around the world. We have also seen the rise of blockchains, NFTs, and cryptocurrencies. While people may not believe these technologies, they have clearly demonstrated the potential of commodities that exist only in digital form and have no physical components, and the utility from systems that are interoperable between these commodities.

Finally, we see the emergence of a cultural change that proves that video games are more than just video games. This cultural idea began to pour into Hollywood rapidly, and a large number of TV and movies related to it began to appear. These cultural narratives also gradually became part of the Metaverse story.We saw the latest Star Wars movie open with an event that only happened in Fortnite, and Travis Scott’s Fortnite concert could be called the 20th century One of the biggest cultural events. All of these changes have coincided with the maturation of other technologies such as virtual reality, leading many to believe that the opportunity for the Metaverse is at hand.

36氪: You mentioned in your book, “Anyone who wants the Metaverse to exist, and even those who don’t want it, should hope that the development of the Metaverse is driven by these groups (small and medium-sized enterprises) and becomes the main beneficiary. rather than being driven by large corporations.” Why do you say that?

Matthew Ball: That’s a good question. I think there are a few different ways to answer. First, we recognize that the most prosperous economies (prosperity means prosperous in terms of wealth distribution, personal satisfaction, and quality of products) tend to come from having more wealth contributors in those economies.For example, there are 32 million small and medium-sized businesses in the United States. Most Americans work for small and medium businesses. Most of the U.S. GDP also comes from these 32 million small and medium-sized businesses. So based on the facts that we have observed, the development of these small and medium-sized enterprises is inseparable from the development of healthy economic prosperity.

The second is to realize that when we talk about the Metaverse, we are often talking about a virtual single being. We are talking about a number of private companies in a virtual world that may control or cooperate to control the “laws of physics” of that world. I think we have reason to worry about what happens when just one or two or three companies control the “law” in the second version of our lives. By “law” I mean what you do, what you sell, who you talk to, what are your rights, what are your fees, what are the fees for businesses, if only a few companies have a say in these issues, As you can imagine, that’s not likely to be the best outcome.The internet is a good example: no one owns the internet, so internet companies don’t charge anyone to access it, and no one can be excluded from the internet. This is why the Internet has such a positive effect on society and humanity, and why it can help many people get educated. That’s why many of the biggest companies on Earth were born or reborn through the internet age, so as we look to the future of the Metaverse, much of my book, and even my purpose for writing it, Just to help individuals, developers, governments, regulators, and voters to understand when and how the Metaverse will come, what the themes of the Metaverse are, on which issues we will disagree, etc., but most importantly The thing is, I want people to understand what decisions we need to make to ensure that the Metaverse is not just a place to be, but a place we want to be.

36氪: While we still have many unanswered questions about the Metaverse, you have drawn a particularly detailed blueprint for the hardware related to the Metaverse in your book. The level of detail of some hardware technologies such as head-mounted displays makes me very happy. Shocked, how did you learn so many details about hardware devices?

Matthew Ball: As I said earlier, one of my goals in writing this book is to help us all build the Metaverse. It should be mentioned here that although the concept of the “Metaverse” comes from a writer – Neil Stephenson, I hope that the real Metaverse will be built by billions of people working together. To do this, each of us needs to learn more about the Metaverse. As I gradually became an expert in this field, I found that most of the knowledge about the Metaverse is beyond the comprehension of ordinary people, and this knowledge and information is also difficult for ordinary people to access. It exists either at the top of the world’s largest and most powerful companies, or at the founders who have spent decades in R&D. So my goal is to provide and communicate this knowledge that I know to ordinary people. While this information can sometimes be found to be too detailed or too specialized, my job is to at least make it easily accessible to everyone.

As for how I got this information and knowledge, I’ve been fortunate that the success of my earlier articles on the Metaverse has given me many new relationships and access to some private exhibitions that the average person cannot. , plus, as an investment advisor and entrepreneur today, I also have a large network of individual founders who have spent their entire careers working on these Metaverse-related issues, so they help me better too Understand some hardware device-level knowledge of the Metaverse. Many of them also helped edit the book, and they are a great source of some of the ideas in the book. In fact, one of the things I’m most excited about is updating the book over the next few years to reflect the many rapid advances I’ve seen in the field of virtual extended mixed reality devices in recent years.

36氪: Does that mean we can see your next Metaverse monograph soon?

Matthew Ball: Oh no, I’m not planning to write an updated book anytime soon. My purpose in writing this book was not to reflect a particular moment. For example, instead of highlighting a single startup or a single research project trying to solve problems in the Metaverse, the book focuses on explaining the parts that are essential to the Metaverse and the macro themes of the Metaverse — which are here to stay. And some problems such as cloud computing, computing processor networking or other path dependencies, such as optics or minimizing batteries, these are not problems that can be solved in the short term, we will not have a breakthrough tomorrow, instead you will see a A continuous process of progress in this regard. Some people do focus on writing a book that reflects everything that’s going on right now, and the contributions of every company involved, but that’s not what I’m doing in this book. So I believe that for years to come, this book will remain an introductory book that will introduce people to the gates of the Metaverse world.

36氪: Still have to ask, so how far are we from such a Metaverse becoming a reality?

Matthew Ball: That’s a good question. There is a famous saying in Silicon Valley that the future has come, it is just not very evenly distributed. This sentence means that what we think of as the future has actually been experienced by a few people. This phrase comes to my mind a lot because there has never been a concrete way of describing when exactly technological change started. For example, China moved to digital and mobile payments long before the US, so those of us in North America talk about the rise of mobile and digital payments before they actually take off in other parts of the world (like China) time is much later.Another example is Japan, a leader in mobile and digital services, a decade ahead of the United States. These facts make it difficult to say exactly when the mobile era began, or when the economy shifted to a mobile e-commerce model.

Likewise, when we talk about the Metaverse, it’s clear that for the younger generation, what we call Gen Z or Gen Alpha in America, they feel like we’re already in the Metaverse. Three-quarters of today’s 9-12-year-old American children regularly use the gaming platform Roblox, and the virtual social interaction they spend time on Roblox platforms is completely different from the gaming social experience of their 10-year-old brother. .

For example, in this book, I talked about the progress of holograms. Holograms already exist in reality, but they are very expensive and relatively few people use them. But over the next decade, we’ll see the cost and size of these devices drop, and we’ll see these technologies roll out globally. One of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had was using a $3,000 VR headset. When you use it, it is clear that the universe you imagine with it will be much closer to reality than the Metaverse imagined by many (especially skeptics).

Also, I played the game Microsoft Flight Simulator with this headset, and Microsoft Flight Simulator doesn’t work on most devices, and most people can’t afford a $3000 device, and I play it on an expensive device The “future sense” I experienced during this game is definitely there. In this experience, as a minority, I experienced the “future” in the eyes of others. So it’s also a perfect demonstration of the phrase “the future is here, it’s just not very evenly distributed.” In the near future, more devices will be able to run Microsoft Flight Simulator, and the price of the $3,000 device will also be reduced to $300, which will make the future more accessible to more people. So I don’t really want to predict when the Metaverse will come in a specific year, but I want you to recognize that every year more people are living in virtual worlds, and some technologies that we believe the Metaverse needs or will need , usually they already exist in reality, we just don’t know it yet.

36氪: In your book, you discussed the layout of some big companies in the Metaverse and their respective prospects. Can you elaborate on some specific points of interest for these big companies?

Matthew Ball: First of all, Facebook is an interesting case. Now we can see that this company has built a lot of advantages, they have the largest identity system in human history, they have 3 billion monthly active users, 200 million daily active users, and they generated $60 billion in cash flow last year. They also have more than 15,000 engineers working on the vision of the Metaverse, and they have a founder who controls the company as much as others believe in the prospect of the Metaverse. Facebook has been in the virtual reality space for years, and it’s impossible to ignore the value of all these things. However, time tells us that having the cash resources and beliefs is not enough to be a leader in the next century. Microsoft, for example, had all these advantages at the very beginning of the smartphone age and the Internet age, but it didn’t manage to be a leader in the new era. In many ways, we may see examples like this, a lot of people don’t want Facebook as a company to be successful, it’s not a company that many developers like, maybe a lot of Facebook’s vision and theme settings in the early Metaverse are already wrong. Well, just like Microsoft was focusing on the wrong business model, the wrong mobile devices, and the wrong price point. We may be able to see mistakes like this again, for example, it looks like meta competitor Apple is going to focus on making $200 rather than $3000 devices, it’s focusing on non-gaming experiences instead of focusing on like meta gaming experience. So I see an extraordinary opportunity and vision in the meta company, but time will tell if it can execute the vision.

My favorite company remains epic games, mostly because I believe the philosophy of its leader, Tim Sweeney, is most likely to foster the Metaverse we want – one that focuses neither on advertising nor data collection Metaverse, a Metaverse focused on the individual rights of users and developers, a Metaverse not controlled by any single company. I also touch on some of the things that I think are most important to this company in the book, and one of them is the way epic voluntarily gave up its corporate rights and handed it over to the US legal system, which is a form of decentralization , but not blockchain-based decentralization.epic realizes that the importance of the Metaverse means that it cannot be held accountable for its own decisions as an individual company, instead we have a legal system governing property rights that governs the rights of individual businesses and the rights of individual users. As a result epic is increasingly emphasizing, “Even though we have rights today, we believe that in the interest of our society, for our company, and for the benefit of our customers, it should be left to our legal system to govern those rights. These principles are very important. As someone who loves their products and respects the leadership of this company, and as someone who wants the Metaverse to be a positive force in global society, epic is the company I like and talk about the most.

Now let me talk about Nvidia. Nvidia’s story is very similar to epic, and five years ago few people in the US knew about the two companies, let alone talked about them. And now they seem to be at the forefront of the global industry, and the fact that the two companies test out many of the arguments about the Metaverse may be partly due to the fact that they were founded 30 years ago, around the time of Avalanche. They are companies born for this era – an era of 3D simulations and Metaverses based on graphics computing. It is their patience and long-term focus that have made them the leaders they are today, and I find the entrepreneurial stories of these two companies to be very inspiring and very important stories of this era. We may not be headed for a future where we wear Nvidia-branded headsets or use Nvidia-branded streaming services, but it’s quite possible we’ll have a future where we’re largely powered by Nvidia engines, which are the Thirty years of focus have prepared for this moment.

In the end, Microsoft is a company that most people don’t think of when they talk about the Metaverse, because they don’t have many consumer-facing products, and they usually focus on the corporate economics. But they have a lot of assets around computer vision and machine learning, they have hardware divisions like Xbox, they also have cloud gaming, Microsoft Teams platform, digital twin platforms, and so on.So I’m personally curious to see how Microsoft can bring these pieces together to become even a bigger company in the Metaverse.

36氪: The title of your book is “The Metaverse Changes Everything”. How should you understand “Change Everything” here?

Matthew Ball: Every time we have a fundamental change in computing and network technology, the experience of almost every country, every sector, and every person has changed because of our access to computing and network resources” and “when, where, why, and how” changes. Like innovations in the age of smartphones, wherever you go, you have a computer in your pocket that allows you to be online constantly, not just occasionally. And when I was younger, we had to be at home or in the office to get online. But the real innovation in the mobile internet age is not that we have a laptop with constant internet access, it’s that when that happens, we fundamentally change who has access to the internet or computers when, where, why and how devices, and this has impacted how we as human beings are organized in society – like our elections in Western societies, what we do and what we think – this innovation has also spawned new companies, new leaders , new business models and even new philosophies, have also challenged many of our ethics, changed the way wealth is distributed within a country, and changed most companies and many of their business practices.

So we can’t know exactly how the universe will change industries or individuals, just as we couldn’t know in the ’90s how the internet was going to change our lives in 2005, or even in 2007 when the first iPhone appeared Like how it will change our future life. That’s why innovations like ticktok are so shocking to many of the world’s biggest companies. It’s not surprising when I say I can’t tell you exactly what life in the Metaverse is like, I can’t tell you what you do when you wake up in the Metaverse, when you get home from get off work What will do – I know this usually frustrates some people because they want to know the exact answer and I can’t give that answer. But I believe that when each of us is involved and has access to persistent high-fidelity 3D virtual worlds, in fact, when we live in a physical world in which we can move freely, and that physical world can Connected to that persistent high-fidelity 3D virtual world at all times, almost everything we do, what we want to do, and even the way we think will be completely rewritten.

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