Get Reel: The Metaverse

Introducing our new Get Reel series. Once a month we will sit down to discuss a prevalent topic in the virtual and augmented reality industries. This month, Get Real co-founders Ed Haravon and Rob Merrilees were joined by M2 Studios founder and CEO Michael Potts for a conversation regarding the metaverse. While the idea of a metaverse has become popular due to science fiction, technological advancements are helping turn the imagination into reality. Watch as we break down the definition, implications, and practicality of the metaverse.

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Ed Haravon (00:05):

Hey welcome everybody to our first get real we’re today. We’re gonna talk about the metaverse and what it means for the XR business. Really quick. I’m Ed Haravon along with Rob Merrilees, the two co-founders for get real. We’re super excited to have Michael Potts, the CEO and founder of M2 studio down in Dallas to join us. Michael tons of talk about the metaverse lately. We’ll get to what Mark Zuckerberg had to say a few days ago. But actually I’m not gonna give you credit for coining the term, but I will say about a month ago you sent us an email saying, Hey guys, I’m seeing a lot to do around this whole idea of branding things as the metaverse and people referring to their businesses involved in the metaverse. And so I’d love to give you a little bit of a chance to explain kind of what you were seeing and, and how you think it fits into the industry right now.

Michael Potts (00:59):

Yeah. well, thanks for having me on I’ve I’ve you know, I’ve heard of the metaverse before, obviously with the ready player one and saw some books that had some topics about it snow crash and read some other books. And, and I was aware of the concept, but all of a sudden around late summer, or I’m sorry. Late spring, early summer, I just started seeing more and pop up more and more in various feeds and, and, and articles. And it just became more and more common. And then they started hearing customers talk about it and they wanted to be the metaverse of this and the metaverse of chewing gum and the metaverses of, of hair care products. And I was like, wait a minute. Metaverse is, is what we call, jump the shark, right? Like it’s become so common that we’re hearing it left and right. And I, and I, I did, I changed my title on LinkedIn from holographic architect to metaverse architect, thinking that that sounds appropriate. And, and it is, it is a, the topic that I see nowadays five times, 10 times a day,

Ed Haravon (01:58):

What would your definition of the metaverse be okay, we’ve identified it as a buzzword within the industry, but like, when you think about it, like put some terms to it and I’ll let Rob weigh in after that.

Michael Potts (02:08):

Yeah. You know, the other I was, I’ve been on a few podcasts lately and had these conversations and I’ve been kind of reading up on what different experts think the metaphor is and truthful. You get a different answer every time you talk to someone. So this person thinks it’s that. And, you know, some people are much more broad about it. Some people are much more you know, dialed in and it just means exactly a certain thing. I obviously the term getting a lot of use and, and I still like the movie, the book and the movie ready player one. And I think that the way that they describe the metaverse is, is what I hope we see someday. And, and I, I will say this, I am starting to E signs that we are gonna have something along those lines. Now, I think it’s years and years away.

Michael Potts (02:50):

But what’s, what’s the sign that I’m seeing is where you’ve got a portal from one platform to another, and I’m noticing that more and more frequently now where one platform leads to another. So there, the metaverse as a whole might be like the next internet, right? But the only way that’s gonna really work is if all these sort of sub subgroups or, or kingdoms or fems connect to get other, and once they start to do that, and you’ll be able to jump from this group, this chat group, this, this use case, this type of platform to that platform. And so I think that what we’re eventually gonna have, what the verse to me is, is a series of connected VR, AR experience platform that you can go from environment to environment, from platform to platform and use case to use case. And one and one metaverse might be for business. And one metaverse might be for, for games. And one metaverse might be for entertainment and some are for sports and some are for gambling and some are for other nefarious purposes, but you’re gonna have all these different kind connected networks. Rob.

Rob Merrilees (04:02):

Yeah, I’ll jump in on, on, on that, on that piece. So I think Michael’s dead on about this ability to take that, which we own that, which we buy that, which we rent and take it from one space to another space, but not just digitally to digital digitally, but also physical to digital and, and back again. So I could have, you know a specific shirt that’s at my home, but then I might also have that same or a different shirt that it connotes. Like it’s not just about, it’s not about physical comfort, but it might be about brand. It might be about fashion. It might be about some image I’m trying to portray. And I have a version of that, or I have versions of that in the digital world. And maybe there’s some sort of connotation of, I actually don’t, don’t just own that in the digital world, or don’t just wear it in the digital world.

Rob Merrilees (05:06):

I actually own it in the real world that may have cache. I may hop on a plane in the real world wearing whatever shirt I’m wearing and, and, and, and take it to a different physical location. I can do that today, right. But to Michael’s point, that ability to have something that I own digitally and move from one platform, one city to another city, one space to another space across, across platform, across vendor product. That’s probably that convergence is probably where it’s all going to go. And those that figure it out in turn. And, and of course there’s a protocol piece and there’s, you know, some, a lot of, you know, technical, heavy lifting to do in order to accomplish that those will be more successful than those who only figure out how to have an item in a unique space and not be able to take it to the other places that one wants to visit, because when one goes and visits there, they wanna make sure that the new people that they’re associating with know that they own whatever it is, but they can’t. So it’s the company, that’s actually the, those that are able to figure out how to transcend all of these spaces physically, digitally go back and forth. Those are the, be those will be the winners. I think

Ed Haravon (06:31):

I think it’s pretty intriguing to look just in the past few weeks at a couple examples. Like everyone always, when you’re talking about metaverse, they’ve identified things like Roblox, Fortnite as being really early innovators. They’ve, they’ve created these, these live experiences. They’ve kind of first started to capitalize on this convergence between physical world digital world. In many cases, they’ve now focused in a little bit of crypto, which is a whole different topic topic we can talked to. So I can, but they’ve, you know, got payment structures involved in them or soon will have things like Roblox, et cetera. But like there’s people out there actually living it. It’s no longer kind of conceptual, it’s no longer something that’s living in a science fiction movie or book you’ve got just in this last week, Bruno Larvol announcing that, you know, he’s gonna spend 365 days in the metaverse and who knows how, what he’s gonna find.

Ed Haravon (07:23):

It’s been only day eight. I’ve been following it on Twitter. But you know, people committing to see like, what’s this all about how can I live? How can I do business? How can I interact with the rest of my life while maintaining a kind of constant digital, no presence? You’ve got people saying like, you’ve got Richard, Scoble saying that, you know, Tesla is the true metaverse company. When you’re talking about convergence of physical world cars, AI anything that comes on digital, certainly there’s a crypto element there too. Not something historically that I’ve thought of in terms of the VR community, but like, interesting to think about if you’re talking about this big convergence of technology, certainly that’s another way to think about how things are, are coming clean and, and really kind of coming together. And then lastly, this week just, you know, a few weeks ago, Facebook announcing not only that they wanna be a metaverse company, according to Zuckerberg and it’s near, it’s asked estimate that 70% of the people working for the company right now are work you in, in this new, you know, metaverse division or helping realize that like people are putting real dollars real efforts behind it which is showing, you know, a first early step is Facebook horizon.

Ed Haravon (08:41):

Surely it’s, you know, maybe not true metaverse, but it’s obviously their toe in the sand to help start get that project rolling out to the public. And certainly that’s gonna spur on all this other innovation as well. So like the fact that people are actually using it and there’s actually some product coming out and it’s not just talk makes me think it might have a little more legs than, than where people might normally see something that might be very trendy or flashy to talk about. I don’t know, Michael, what do you think?

Michael Potts (09:12):

I would say that it’s, it’s one of those topics that there’s everything from you know, absolute experts to those that are really just kind of just speaking about it and there’s, but it’s hard to be a true expert in this field because, you know, there’s so many subdivisions to it. There’s so many different ways in which you can slice up the metaverse. So you, you, you can get it to a point where anything that you can experience on the web is a, is a metaverse or do you specify you have to be in VR, AR goggles. I mean, Bruno this morning was talking about, he thinks if you’re on the web, it’s cheating. And I mean, I guess you could call it that. And, you know, that’s one way to look at it. But, but there’s a lot of different there’s a lot of different players and there’s so many different levels of like immersiveness, right?

Michael Potts (09:59):

And so to the point where we finally get to where we’re all in this, you know, immersed VR, AR experience, I think we’re ways away from that, but between now and then there are going to be these sort of like levels and levels of, of more Immers, immersive ness and the connections between the real world, like you said, Rob, which I think is really clever about how, you know, we’re gonna see a point when you go buy a shirt at a high fashion that it may very well come with a crypto NFT connected shirt or a PA pair of pants or, or a bag from coach. I mean, I think that’s coming sooner than we think. I think we’ll see that within a year or so that a lot of the big brands may sell you a digital NFT asset that comes with it.

Michael Potts (10:44):

And, and then you’re right, your avatar, you want to, you spent $1,200 for that shirt or that bag or those pants, and you may wanna make your avatar wear those pants because those were hard to get. But I, but I also think that we’re gonna play in a world here where it’s exciting, but here’s what I think’s gonna happen. If you look at all the business application VR experienced platforms out there, eventually, I think it’ll be distilled down to just a couple or one that will win that, that game. Same thing with the, with the entertainment, like all the different apps and all the different solutions that are gonna work for entertainment. I think they’ll, they’ll eventually be a winner or two. And I think you’ll have that on a lot of fronts. Cause I think there’s a lot of players in the game right now, and there won’t be a lot of, as many players in this space in four years or five years.

Michael Potts (11:37):

And then it, it will come down to a handful of those companies and they’ll be acquired by those or they’ll acquire their, their, their competition. And if you just look at the wild, which was the platform that we were using back in 2018 and they’re great, they bought their bigger competitor because they had a better product than they were. They were winning the, the, the customer. You know, I think the customers preferred the wild. And so they, they acquired their competitor and they are now the leader in their space. And Adam, I’m not sure if anyone else is gonna come along and challenge them for that space. But I think we’ll see these similar things playing out in the different metaverse sort of like corners, right? The, the entertainment corner, the sports corner, the art corner, the, the musicians cor you’re gonna see all these different PLA and some of these platforms are gonna hold two or three or four positions and the eventual, maybe they’ll, they’ll continue to hold those. But I think at some point, those who don’t find that they’re the they’re the winner will either have to bow out or, you know, jump, join, join with somebody else.

Ed Haravon (12:45):

I, I might take a different take on that micro. I, I see what you see in like, along the evolution and things get bigger. And certainly that’s what happens in, in other. It just strikes me now early on that it is, I read an article the other day on a blog by Doug Thompson, and he described it as being the metaverse now is chaotic. It’s, it’s a home brew club. It’s you know, a home kniting club, it’s, you know computer hacking back in the early days, like it is such a creator driven space. There is literally no boundaries. There is no limit to what you could invent and what you be it is. And the idea that it can in in many cases like these metaverses or sub metaverses, as they sprout up are creating their own currencies digital tokens, like they’re literally innovating at every, every aspect of what they’re creating.

Ed Haravon (13:43):

And, and they’re gonna be interconnected. Like there’s gonna be ways of taking value from one and spending it in, in another area. And so I just see it being so like beautifully chaotic it to, to, to kind of quote from the article, whereas, you know, ironically against the backdrop of here’s Facebook, making a big claim at metaverse and trying to probably own it and try, you know, with, with everything they’ve, as I mentioned earlier, like putting their money where their mouth is in terms of going after the room, you know, consider that against the act drop of, you know, there’s there’s bills in Congress right now saying Facebook should be smaller there’s bills in Congress saying Facebook should be broken up. There’s huge ethical questions around what are the new rules in, you know, if you’ve got a convergence of physical world augmented reality, virtual reality who sets those rules, certainly no, one’s figured that out yet.

Ed Haravon (14:35):

And to that token, I think it’s gonna be a long time before people do. But you know, this whole idea of like, who gets to set the terms of it, I think is so undecided that it’ll keep someone from rolling it up for a long time. Just because the nature of how it’s kind of just been a grassroots effort since the start, you know, said differently, who gets to, who gets to augment reality, you know, who gets to walk down the street, you know, take, just take recent events. There’s you know, there’s a, the, the capital building, you know, who gets to take that and say, well, that’s where all the law, the United States are made, or that’s where my Senator from Illinois goes to serve, or that was the site of like a glorious revolution on January 6th, you know anybody can have, you know, and that that’s just three of a hundred different views. What is the right data? And, and, and reality that can be over late around something. So public, I think it’s interesting to think

Rob Merrilees (15:33):

About, you know, I’ll jump in on like the current state of the, of, of the VR world, current state, the, the current metaverse in some ways maybe if it’s chaotic, maybe it’s, maybe it’s most like what AOL prodigy and concuer were like in the nineties which you know, which is completely scattered in terms of what the uses were. But what’s also interesting to note is that the leaders of that day, I mean, AOL got bought by time Warner. Tell me what happened to prodigy. Tell me what happened to compuser. Those that are the leaders at the early stages are not necessarily the winners down, down the road that said the capital advantages that certain players have today are, are, would be the equivalent of like whatever IBM was, right. And even IBM lost its way. IBM didn’t end up dominating any of that space and were, and, and ended up being years behind speaking of IBM, they have I, I kind of think when the, when the, when the winners start to emerge will be when the consumers, I mean, we’re so far from full adoption, you know, from anything close to adoption you know, this is the, you know, the metaphor of the first inning, even though VR’s been around for, you know, 20 some years.

Rob Merrilees (17:17):

And there’s been people that have, that have been burned many times in the hype cycle, thinking that this is it, this is, this is when, when, when spa computing, VR, AR the metaverse is, is about to to, to take off. But when did it take off? It, it took off when we got home com when, when did, when did computing productivity really take off? It took off when there was adoption because of the personal computer, and it wasn’t just the, the fortune 500 companies. And then the 1000 companies, and then all the businesses that had access to, to, to the, the productivity gains that could come from using a computer. When, when, when companies started making PC and max and so forth for the home, that’s when, if you look back, that’s really when, when, when technology really started to, to Virgin.

Rob Merrilees (18:21):

And, and we’re nowhere near that. Now we’re a lot closer today than we were a year a year and a half ago when we didn’t have a we, and a year ago when we didn’t have a $299 high quality device, as we do now from, from Facebook, the metaverse is gaining steam, I think right now, because Facebook is pouring a ton of money, new or newly put, pouring a ton of money into the branding, into the, into the terminology, you know, Zuckerberg, very purposeful. The term’s been around, obviously they’ve decided to, to, to, you know, put, put their money on that vision as being and, and, and try to, you know, attach all of it to that word. And I, I looked up in Google trends earlier about how, and Michael’s dead on when he said it spiked in the spring. And then again, more recently, I also looked up future of work, which was a, a phrase that was beginning to catch some, some steam, and sure enough, in the same period recently, when metaverse has taken off future through of work is starting to go down.

Rob Merrilees (19:33):

Well, Facebook, of course, doesn’t just care about the workplace, even though horizon work rooms or workroom horizons has, has, has has obviously for, you know, the workplace they’ve they, they, they care, you know, about the cons consumer and when apple comes out, whenever that is with whatever iterations of hardware they decide, they want to, to ultimately launch that’s going to be the equivalent. I think, in, in tandem with curly, with Facebook’s own evolution, whether it’s a glasses or a, your glasses, or, or improved, you know, quest headsets or whatever, that’s the equivalent of the PC coming into the house. And when people have that, that’s when ideas really then they cross-germinate because people start doing stuff at home, and then they start bringing those ideas product to, into the workplace. And people in the workplace who are using the devices already start, you know, getting them for their home. And that’s really when the demand curve, I think, will take that hockey stick up, up move you know, increase. And, and that will ultimately define, you know, metaverse is just a label, but what we’re living, what we will be living will be, you know, that’ll be the reality of that’ll be the metaverse

Ed Haravon (21:02):

Michael, you get the last word today. And, and before doing, so I’ll say any world where I can get an NFT on any of the Michael Pott’s shirt collection I wanna be a part of it. So I’ll give you a last word on the metaverse today. And we’ll, we’ll, we’ll wrap it up

Michael Potts (21:20):

First, before I take the last word. I wanna give a plug to something that I hope you guys will be involved with our friend, Steven uh, halziger from a Northern university or Northern Illinois university. And I are planning a symposium conference next spring on the metaverse and on the concepts we’re talking about here, which that, that notion of you know, let’s have conversations about what it should be, what it could be. Let’s talk about the ethics, the morality, let’s talk about the legally issues that are gonna be coming around. Let’s, let’s have a, a, a wholehearted conversation about a lot of different elements and not just about the business side of things, but E1 to incorporate you know plenty of academics. So we plan to have an event that’s in, in the spring. I I’d I’d show you the website, but it’s, it’s still too early, but <laugh>, that’s gonna be centered around the whole concept in the conversation about the metaverse and try to think about, like, what, what if you had a conversation before the, before the internet really became something?

Michael Potts (22:16):

What if we, and I’m, I probably did. Right, but like, could you, would you want to go to those, those conversations and listen to experts and have those, those discussions with them about where things are headed, but also what we should try to plan for and how we should try to make it better and how try and make it work for everyone. So, a plug for the, for the, I think the conference is gonna be called virtual frontiers. And then I’ll just say this, and I’ll finish on this point. What I see, and of course, I’m only getting one part of the picture because I I’m really obviously pretty closely connected to spatial and those guys give us a, a lot of work and we give them a lot of free bees, and it’s a good relationship between the two of us.

Michael Potts (22:54):

And although we work with other platforms, we’re seeing a lot of our, our interactions with the metaverse as through the prism of, of spatial and, and a little bit through throughout space, but a lot through spatial. And, and what I see and what we’ve been, what we’ve been <affirmative> on the receiving end is of, is, is, is conversations with corporations, government entities, and and some public sector, you know, educational facilities, but from across a wide spectrum of, of different types of businesses and across the world, right? Like that’s the challenge right, is I’m getting calls six in the morning from, from Norway and at four in the morning from Beijing, because it’s across the entire planet. And I would almost say I have an easier time making a deal with someone in England than I do in Dallas, right? Because in Dallas, I’ve got a, the real estate is hot and everyone’s just all on that.

Michael Potts (23:48):

And it’s hard to explain, no, put this on your head, but I’m dealing with someone overseas, or I’m dealing with someone in another country and they already are more bought into the concept, but the, the, the different types of, of industries and I could list them off, but just about every single one there’s at least a few players in each one of these that wants to be to hold either a lead status or wants to spend enough energy, money, and time to to really fully investigate it and be, try to be informed and aware. And I think some of these companies are huge, huge corporations, and obviously they wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be spending time in this, if they didn’t believe there was at least some value to it. So I don’t think there’s a question this is coming and it’s gonna touch our lives in a lot of different ways from a lot of different industries and a lot of different organizations.

Michael Potts (24:40):

So I, I could, I couldn’t give a prediction on time. Although in my, you know, I, I, five years ago I was telling businesses like in five or six years, be ready, cuz you’re gonna have a virtual reality website where people are gonna come and they’re gonna meet with you and interact with you and they’re gonna use it for a portal to your company. And I think you guys are exa, you guys are, are proof that that’s already the case, like businesses are already doing that. So this is the future. And I would say, you know, you go out three or four more years and you’re gonna see this across nearly every single industry and it’s gonna be deep and it’s gonna have fingers in so many different aspects of our lives.

Ed Haravon (25:21):

Well, we could probably talk about this for two, three hours. Yeah. News 10 new metaverse topics just came up on, on Twitter as we were speaking. So we’ll, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll break here, Michael, thanks for joining us for the get real today. And if you guys liked what you saw, we’ll be doing these monthly on, on topics that are affecting the industry. And so follow us on YouTube and, and, and stay in touch as we hopefully bring some good insight to some of these topics we move forward. So thanks a lot. And we’ll we’ll end it here.