Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week? [Jan. 13, 2021]
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Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week? [Jan. 13, 2021]

CoinMarketCap takes a look at some of the latest happenings in the metaverse — from a Samsung US and Binance.US virtual office on the metaverse, to Disney's metaverse theme park plans.

Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week? [Jan. 13, 2021]


From big tech firms scrambling for skilled employees to push their metaverse dreams to investors splashing millions on metaverse startups, the space has become a playground for corporate behemoths. While brands like Samsung and Binance.US are building spaces on the metaverse, Disney is patenting a tech for virtual-themed parks.

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iHeartMedia Mulls Over Metaverse Expansion

Leading American audio company iHeartMedia has revealed its plans to expand into web3 and the metaverse. The company announced the creation of iHeart events and experiences for its audience on Roblox on Wednesday.

Roblox is an online gaming platform and game creation system. It is a collection of millions of games created by its community. You can think of it as YouTube for games.

Commenting on the decision, the CEO of iHeartMedia, Bob Pittman, said:

“Although there are a number of great new products for the metaverse and web3 from a wide array of creators, with our unparalleled audience reach, multiple platforms, and our trusted broadcast and podcast hosts, iHeartMedia is uniquely positioned to build the consumer awareness, understanding and demand necessary for those new products and platforms from both us and others to succeed. We see this as a unique opportunity to serve our listeners’ needs, provide an important new layer of growth for the company, and help develop the advertising and consumer potential for the metaverse and web3.”
As part of its strategy for 2022, the company plans to roll out immersive musical moments to its over 47 million daily active users on the Roblox platform. It is also looking to launch its first tokenized community and a series of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) while introducing a token to incentivize and reward its iHeart creator community.

iHeartMedia has already recorded a level of success venturing into the crypto space. Its iHeartRadio Music Festival NFTs initiative in September 2021 was successful. Conal Byrne, President of the iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group, said:

“We have already stepped into the metaverse with NFTs and have much more to come. iHeart’s place in this ecosystem — giving fans extraordinary access to the special events and influencers we provide every day of the year — is what we’re focused on building out as we work with key partners and develop an easy-to-use ramp to the metaverse and web3 for the mass market.”

Metaverse Boom Attracted More Than £154m to UK VR Firms in 2021

The metaverse is undoubtedly the latest kid on the block, having attracted several big brands. Over in the UK, investors put more than £150m of capital into virtual reality (VR) companies in 2021.
According to an analysis by institutional stockbroking firm Arden Partners, private investment into UK VR companies rose by 72% from its 2020 levels. As expected, a lot of this investment happened in Q4, right around the same period that Facebook rebranded to Meta Platforms Inc.

The investment for Q4 was £72m, which smashed the previous 2018 record of £46m. Comparatively, the total UK VR investment for 2020 was just £90m.

Delving into the details, Arden Partners notes that the video gaming industry will experience exponential growth in the long term due to the growing interest in the metaverse. Alex DeGroote, research director at Arden, explained:

“We have seen a wave of companies in this space turning to the public equity markets and expect this to continue. Significant technological developments in virtual reality and the metaverse are laying the foundations for the advent of new disruptors challenging the likes of Facebook, Apple and Google that are putting a lot of energy and investment into taking advantage of the potential returns from the virtual reality space.”

Tencent Intensifies Metaverse Efforts, Set to Acquire Gaming Device Company Black Shark

While Facebook may have shocked the world with its move to go all out into the metaverse space, it is not the only social media giant that is looking to grab a slice of the pie. China-based Tencent Holdings, the owner of WeChat and QQ Messenger, wants to acquire Black Shark.

Black Shark is a Chinese gaming phone company, and the move could help Tencent build its own metaverse, according to a report from 36Kr. Citing multiple sources, the news outlet said that Black Shark’s focus will shift from its gaming-centric devices to building VR hardware once the deal is complete.
Meanwhile, tech giant Xiaomi is the majority shareholder in Black Shark.

As for its metaverse journey, Tencent inked a strategic partnership with Roblox in May 2019 and currently has a 49% stake in the platform. In September 2021, the social media giant filed two metaverse-related trademarks. The metaverse subject was also raised during the company’s Q3 earnings call in November. Back then Tencent President Martin Lau described the concept as “very exciting, but a little bit vague.”

Samsung Deploys Metaverse Store on Decentraland

Samsung has built a replica of its real-world shop at 837 Washington Street in New York City’s Meatpacking District on the metaverse.

Last Thursday, the consumer electronics giant announced the opening of a virtual replica of its iconic New York store. Customers will be able to access the shop in the metaverse for a limited time. For a start, they will need to access the decentralized metaverse platform Decentraland through a web browser. Once logged in, their avatar will be sent outside the Samsung metaverse structure. They can enter the lobby and explore one of three interior rooms — sustainability, customization and connection.

The metaverse store will feature “Connectivity Theater and Sustainability Forest” and a musical event at the “Customization Stage.”

Still last week, the electronics giant announced its plan to support NFTs on its 2022 TV lineup.

Binance.US Sets up Virtual Office on Solana-based Portals’ Metaverse

Samsung is not the only one that is shifting part of its business to the metaverse. Leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance.US has also caught the bug. The exchange is building an office space in Portals, a Solana-based metaverse platform.

Portals’ head of community and partnerships Chris Lund reportedly confirmed the development to CoinDesk in a Twitter message.

“Binance.US is getting a space in Portals Downtown with a focus on delivering the latest news, charts, and events virtually.”

Lund goes on to reveal that another crypto exchange, FTX.US, will also build its office on Portals.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Binance.US Zachary Tindall said that the virtual office is meant to be a hangout spot for its users.

“We are creating a space in the metaverse for the Binance.US community to come together. It’s the first of many steps we’re taking to be forward-looking as we build and reach our community in new environments.”

Many Microsoft Staff Move to Meta in Mass Metaverse Exodus

Big tech companies are struggling to keep their employees as the metaverse race heats up. According to a former staff of Microsoft, about 100 people have left the company for Meta (formerly Facebook). Meanwhile, Apple is upping its employee bonuses in a bid to retain its workers.

According to The Wall Street Journal, many former employees of Microsoft have abandoned the company’s augmented reality dreams for that of Meta Platforms. Specifically, Meta has been focused on recruiting individuals who had worked on Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headsets. The WSJ points out that the LinkedIn profiles of more than 70 former employees of Microsoft that worked on its HoloLens team had left the company over the past year, with more than 40 of them now working at Meta.
For some context, Microsoft’s HoloLens project has been on since 2016, giving it a first-mover advantage in the AR space.
On the part of Apple, the company is trying to handle a possible employee exodus to Meta by offering mouth-watering bonuses and stock options between $50,000 and $180,000.

eToro Debuts Smart Portfolios for Metaverse Investors

Brokerage firm eToro has rolled out a new smart portfolio feature called MetaverseLife. The product covers stocks and crypto assets within the metaverse industry.

According to the company, its goal is to offer a wide range of investments designed for long-term exposure. Some of the companies currently covered by the portfolio include Meta Platforms, Roblox, The Sandbox, Decentraland and Enjin. Other traditional firms like Microsoft, Amazon and Nvidia are also being tracked by MetaverseLife.

Dani Brinker, head of investment portfolios at eToro, said that “when evaluating the investment opportunity of emerging industries, diversification is key as not everyone involved will be a winner.” He goes on to add that “by packaging up a selection of assets in a portfolio, we’re doing the heavy lifting and enabling our customers to gain exposure to the metaverse and spread the risk across a variety of assets.”

Disney Patents Tech for Metaverse-themed Park

Disney will be making a rather bold foray into the metaverse space, having received patent approval for its “virtual-world simulator.” The multinational entertainment giant is seeking to deploy personalized interactive experiences for visitors of its theme parks.

Surprisingly, Disney is taking a different approach from the prevalent VR headset model. Its tech would facilitate headset-free AR attractions by tracking the mobile phones of visitors. Personalized 3D effects will then be generated and projected onto nearby objects, walls and physical spaces in the park.

Disney originally filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in July 2020. However, the approval for its “virtual-world simulator in a real-world venue” patent came on Dec. 28, 2021.
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