In case you missed it, the metaverse is here. It’s so close to reality — in fact, Mark Zuckerberg made the big reveal of the tech giant’s rebrand to Meta, consolidating its intentions to build out its own metaverse.
With the metaverse only a stone’s throw away, all rules change — especially the way business growth and development is supposed to be approached. In order to create a successful business model that will thrive in the meta future, it needs to be viable both in the real and the digital worlds, with qualities interchangeable between the day-to-day and virtual realities.
In order to create an agile business able to withstand the test of not one but two realities, it’s important to understand what the metaverse is and what changes it might bear in the near future.
The metaverse in the modern context is used to describe a far-reaching, immersive world that surpasses the common reality and into virtual reality. In a metaverse, users have the chance to do a lot more than in everyday reality from interacting with brands on a new, deeper and more immersive level to living experiences beyond imaginary.
Before Facebook’s big reveal earlier in October, the metaverse was already an existing concept in the world of gaming. Specifically, the pioneers of a universe where users have their equivalent avatars and exist in a parallel reality are Fortnite and Roblox. These virtual worlds haven’t limited themselves to gaming and adventure; they have gone further to set the standard for how other industries operate. The best examples are the widely successful concerts by Travis Scott and Ariana Grande.
In order to survive the metaverse test and potentially become unicorns, companies can tap into the metaverse to explore new ways to engage consumers and build a solid presence beyond a single reality. These efforts range from adapting to the new virtual reality requirement to creating products that are entirely suited for the virtual world to begin with.
A notable example of this is Facebook itself. Even though the announcement about the metaverse intentions came not so long ago, Mark Zuckerberg has been preparing for this shift for some time now. In truth, this initiative started back in 2014, when Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion — a VR hardware company that has become an entirely independent product under the now Meta family.
Fast forward seven years to today, and Facebook announced yet another partnership, now with Ray-Ban, introducing “smart glasses that give you an authentic way to capture photos and video, share your adventures, and listen to music or take phone calls — so you can stay present with friends, family, and the world around you.” The glasses let users take photos and videos, and the Facebook View App allows you to edit and share the content right from the glasses as they sync up with the user’s phone. Facebook is the most classic of examples of a company pivoting into the meta world — and it sets a new standard for how companies will go down the same path in the near future.
There are more examples to consider when it comes to fully adopting the metaverse concept and building unicorns in this sci-fi reality.
First and foremost, there is virtual reality — and this is a vast opportunity space that’s growing saturated very quickly. Building the technology that will fuel the virtual world where brands will live, transactions will occur and essential things will happen on par with our day-to-day is a sure way to establish the foundations of a potential unicorn. A great example of this is NextVR, which allows the transmission of VR at broadcast quality. The company was acquired by Apple in 2020, marking another tech giant acknowledging the changing landscape of the tech world.
Secondly, there is a vast, untapped world of hardware supporting the VR world, as seen with Oculus and Ray-Bans. Right now, there is a big barrier for the everyday consumer to acquire an AR/VR set — however, with the industry shift becoming more apparent, it’s highly likely that owning one will become a necessity to participate in the metaverse economy. Niantic, the creator of Pokemon Go, falls under this category.
Another bucket that has been growing exponentially is cryptocurrency — and with the advent of the virtual world and a whole new economy, crypto will be especially crucial in how it might become the primary barter method in the new, virtual world. A lot of fintech companies have gone down this route, making it possible to make payments with cryptocurrencies today — one of the most notable examples includes Venmo. A space that’s already lucrative, it’s only going to grow more quickly as the metaverse becomes more and more real.
The metaverse is here and now — and the best way to make it in a world-spanning over two realities is to adapt and evolve. Whether it’s introducing new functionalities and products that will thrive in the metaverse or building a metaverse-native company from scratch, both mean things are changing — and fast. It will take a forward-looking approach to come out as a leader in the not-so-far metaverse future.
Originally published in Forbes