Weekly Wrap: What’s Happening in the Metaverse This Week? [March 28, 2022]

CoinMarketCap and Nansen look at the latest happenings in the metaverse — from the first-ever metaverse fashion week in Decentraland, to Yat Siu of Animoca pushing for an open metaverse.

Would you choose a virtual fashion show over a real one? Well, Decentraland hosted the first-ever metaverse fashion show last week and many prominent brands were present to showcase their designs. Away from fashion, Dubai is set to host its economic summit in the metaverse, while Qualcomm has launched a $100 million fund to support startups and companies building metaverse products.

Here’s a rundown of some of the top stories in the metaverse scenes over the past week.

Dubai To Host World’s First Economic Summit in the Metaverse

While South Korea is gunning to be the fifth-largest metaverse market by 2026, Dubai is gearing up to hold its first economic press conference in the metaverse this week.

The Investopedia Investment Summit is one of the major strategic initiatives under Dubai’s ‘Projects of the 50’ announced by the government in September 2021. The event will discuss important economic topics, such as the current economic transformations and their impact on investors, as well as the prospects and trends of global investments until 2025.

Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, the UAE Minister of Economy, explained that the “Investopia Summit will also shed light on the quick developments in the world regarding the cryptocurrency market, which encouraged banks to invest in the next generation of financial technology.” He added:

“It is great to see Investopia Summit in the metaverse, and to host the first economic press conference through this virtual world. Investopia’s vision is about the future economies, so launching the Summit in the metaverse comes in line with this context, which enriches the Investopia’s discussions about the technological developments in the world and their impact on economies and investments.”

The inaugural edition of the summit will witness attendance from more than 4,000 global figures, including government officials, SME leaders, institutional investors, and other stakeholders.

Qualcomm Launches $100M Metaverse Fund

Multinational software and microchip giant, Qualcomm, has launched a $100 million metaverse fund to support companies working in the burgeoning metaverse industry. Proud to introduce the @Snapdragon Metaverse Fund, which will invest up to $100M in #XR developers and companies building immersive experiences and foundational technologies enabling the #Metaverse. Learn more: https://t.co/pG1KtkBqS4

— Qualcomm (@Qualcomm) March 21, 2022

Dubbed the “SnapDragon Metaverse Fund” in reference to the firm’s Snapdragon chips, the fund will back leading companies in the extended reality (XR), artificial intelligence (AI), and augmented reality (AR) space. According to a Monday press release, the funding will also go toward a developer ecosystem funding for startups building experiences such as “gaming, health and wellness, media, entertainment, education, and enterprise.” President and CEO of Qualcomm Cristiano Amon described his company as the “ticket to the metaverse.”

He said:

“Through the Snapdragon Metaverse Fund, we look forward to empowering developers and companies of all sizes as they push the boundaries of what’s possible as we enter into this new generation of spatial computing.”

Recipients of the grants will receive “early access to cutting-edge XR platform technology, hardware kits, a global network of investors and co-marketing and promotion opportunities.”

Meanwhile, Qualcomm’s website suggests that the company is looking to combine a smartphone, AR glasses and VR headset into a single XR device in the future.

“XR could replace all the other screens in your life, like that big TV in your living room. Mobile XR has the potential to become one of the world’s most ubiquitous and disruptive computing platforms—similar to the smartphone today.”

Qualcomm is the latest in line with large corporations pushing into the metaverse. Qualcomm + the #Metaverse: What comes to mind?

— Qualcomm (@Qualcomm) March 24, 2022

Animoca Brands Target Social Media Giants in Latest Web3 Push

Late last year, The Sandbox’s co-founder Sebastien Borget said that Big Tech was a huge threat to decentralization, following Meta’s bold foray into the space. Expressing his displeasure over the mass exodus of tech giants into the virtual world, the company’s chief operating officer said:

“We don’t think those companies can build something truly fun that’s catered to the users because they’ve been so focused on their key business model and how to satisfy shareholders rather than satisfy users who own the asset, who own the governance of their own platform.”

It appears that Borget was only voicing the vision of Animoca Brands, the parent company of The Sandbox. During an appearance on the Australian Blockchain Week last Wednesday, Animoca Brands chairman and co-founder Yat Siu said his firm would continue to “shepherd companies into Web3” in a bid to push its open metaverse dreams.

“You will continue seeing us take that approach as we sort of, you know, try to shepherd companies into Web3.”

Like Borget, Sui is also an advocate of the concept of an open metaverse, as opposed to one controlled by large centralized Web2 companies. He argues that decentralized Web3 tech such as NFTs gives users the chance to maintain ownership rights over their data and content.” Why decentralization matters” quote by @ysiu – you will be surprised by the answer 👇. #GDC#Blockchain#Gaming#Web3pic.twitter.com/cndvOW9sQ6

— Sebastien 🏞 (@borgetsebastien) March 23, 2022

When quizzed about the future plans of Animoca Brands, Siu said that the first was still nascent and “super early” in its long-term vision of building an open metaverse. He was, however, quick to mention the need for speed to prevent large centralized firms from dominating the sector.

“You will continue seeing us take that approach as we sort of, you know, try to shepherd companies into Web3. A lot of this is driven by ‘how do we accelerate the adoption of web3?’ because one of the bigger risks as we see it, is that if people don‘t move into space quickly enough then inadvertently we will perhaps also create another kind of elite.”

Adding to his argument, Siu accused major tech firms of not wanting to see a decentralized and open Web3. According to him, their business models are hinged on the monetization of user data.

“There are very large centralized organizations who don‘t want this to happen because they make money from our data. [From their point of view,] data is not a property that we should own. Data is a property that they should own and they can manipulate because that‘s how the entire business is constructed […] If most of us decide to, you know, just exist in a closed metaverse or in a closed ecosystem entirely, then actually we live by their rules. And it would be hard to break out because they end up sort of manipulating and controlling that network effect, as we have seen today with some of the large tech companies.”

Yuga Labs Raised $450 Million to Build Metaverse Project

Yuga Labs, the creators of the popular Bore Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT collection, closed a $450 million funding round last Tuesday. The new capital will be used to build several NFT initiatives, starting with its own metaverse project and games.

The round was led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from others like gaming studio Animoca Brands, crypto exchange FTX, Google, Samsung and Adidas. Celebrities like Colin Kaepernick, Shaquille O’ Neal, Steve Aoki, Timbaland, and several others also participated. YugaLabs CEO Nicole Muniz said:

“Mainstream adoption in web3 is accelerating at lightning speed, and Yuga is at the forefront of merging culture and innovation for everyone to enter the metaverse. We’re thrilled to invest in this brilliant team and their vision, and help forge the next frontier of community-owned entertainment.”

Speaking of its metaverse project called “Otherside,” it is a multiplayer online role-playing game that is meant to connect the broader NFT space. The team is aiming at creating “an interoperable world” that is “completely decentralized” and “gamified.” Wylie Aronow, a co-founder of Bored Ape Yacht Club who goes by the pseudonym Gordon Goner, said:

“We think the real Ready Player One experience will be player run.”

Yuga Labs’ latest expansion into the metaverse scene comes just weeks after the company took the bold step of acquiring the IP rights of CryptoPunks and Meebits from Larva Labs. The move has now put three of the most lucrative NFT collections under the same roof, with Yuga Labs having a much larger arsenal to pull from when building its game and metaverse ecosystem.

Yuga Labs has teamed up with “a few different game studios” to breathe life into the Otherside project. While the details are still sketchy, CEO Nicole Muniz said that the project won’t be limited to just Bored Ape holders as there will be developing tools to integrate other NFT projects.

“We’re opening the door to effectively a walled garden and saying ‘Everybody’s welcome.’”

Nelson Mandela’s Family To Launch Metaverse Project “Mandelaverse”

With the metaverse being touted as the next big thing, The Nelson Mandela Family’s Long Walk to Freedom brand is making an entry into the space with a new project.

Dubbed “A Long Walk to Meta: Mandelaverse,” the metaverse project will feature a holographic gala hosted in Los Angeles, in addition to four NFT art collections. Princess Zenani Mandela Dlamini said in a statement on Tuesday:

“It [Mandelaverse] is here that we will amplify African voices, connect a global community through storytelling, and uphold the legacy, principles, and values of a revolutionary man […] My father was a great champion of education and believed it was the most powerful weapon we could use to change the world. Web 3.0 holds the promise of a decentralized, community-driven paradigm shift that will allow a new generation to democratize and restore the power of creators.”

The project is being released in collaboration with Range Media, the Phoenix James Art Haus and Tinywins digital product studio.

The first four NFT collections from the initiative are expected to launch in May, with proceeds going toward the Mandela Education Program. Meanwhile, the first collection will include 100 gold and silver access tokens. Holders will be able to enter the Mandelaverse Gala with the tokens, with one gold token holder being eligible for a trip to South Africa.

Decentraland Hosts the First-ever Metaverse Fashion Week

From office meetings to metaverse weddings, virtual events are in full swing, and the first-ever fashion event hosted on the metaverse happened last week. Curated by @UNXD_NFT and the Decentraland Foundation, you’re invited to the #MVFW opening of the all-new Luxury District.

Inspired by Avenue Montaigne in Paris, it features brands like @dolcegabbana@EtroOfficial, and @FranckMuller for a high-end shopping experience. pic.twitter.com/MGAHXopFY6

— Decentraland (@decentraland) March 24, 2022

The Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW) was hosted on Decentraland from March 24 to 27, with more than fifty prominent names in the fashion industry attending the event. The likes of Tommy Hilfiger, Dolce & Gabbana, Elie Saab, Dundas and Etro were present to showcase their works.

Sign-up for the event was free and users had the freedom to explore, purchase real estate, play games and interact with others in the Ethereum-based 3D virtual platform. Decentraland Foundation’s creative director, Sam Hamilton, said:

“Decentraland is a virtual social world for everyone, anywhere. Metaverse Fashion Week serves as the perfect, monumental event to introduce to the world the philosophy behind everything we build. A space built by and run for by its community. Through MVFW22, we endeavor to broaden the horizon of what ‘metaverse’ means. We just leveled up the playing field for the world of fashion and decreased the limitations. Even in the metaverse, you’ll be needing a ‘fit’.”

As part of the event, a digital retail space called Boson Portal-Fashion District made its debut in Decentraland. The luxury shopping area mimics the famed Avenue Montaigne in Paris. The store allows brands to sell their physical products as NFTs that can be redeemed within metaverse stores.

Commenting on how important the event was, Fabricant co-founder Amber Jae Slooten said in an interview that:

“If this fashion week facilitates a place and time for people to come together online and not have to fly across the world and create all of those physical items/waste to produce 10-minute fashion shows, this would save a lot of valuable resources.”

Taking a look at Nansen’s Token God Mode dashboard for the MANA token, we can see that 95% of the tokens have been held for at least 90 days. Unique addresses holding the tokens are also at an all-time high of ~224K addresses.

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