Mark Zuckerberg is no astronaut, so he’s rocketing Facebook into a virtual universe instead

mark zuckerberg oculus
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on stage at an Oculus developers conference in 2016.

  • Mark Zuckerberg said this week that Facebook will transform into a metaverse company.
  • Metaverse is the next iteration of the internet and will expand on the physical and digital worlds.
  • It’s Zuckerberg’s own futuristic mission after his peers catapulted to the edge of space.
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Richard Branson rocketed to the edge of space. So did Jeff Bezos just days later. Elon Musk has grand plans for interplanetary life, too.

But Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is one tech billionaire that’s not following suit. Instead, he unveiled his own futuristic ambitions recently: positioning his company as the center of the so-called metaverse.

Think of it as what will come after the internet. It’s a virtual universe that will straddle the physical and digital worlds, allowing people to live and interact in real-time in both of them.

Digiday gave a good example: you wouldn’t have different social media profiles across various platforms. You would instead automatically be yourself when you log onto Twitter, Instagram, and other online spaces.

The metaverse concept has been somewhat niche, presiding largely in the gaming world, until Zuckerberg pushed it into the limelight this week in an interview with The Verge.

He said Facebook would evolve from a social media company into a “metaverse company.” And Facebook’s Andrew Bosworth said Monday that the company is even building out a designated executive team to oversee progress towards the metaverse vision. It’ll exist within Facebook’s virtual reality branch.

Facebook’s VR and AR technology can currently “teleport you into a room with another person, regardless of physical distance, or to new virtual worlds and experiences,” Bosworth said in the Facebook post. “But to achieve our full vision of the Metaverse, we also need to build the connective tissue between these spaces — so you can remove the limitations of physics and move between them with the same ease as moving from one room in your home to the next.”

Zuckerberg said he’s banking on the transition to occur over the course of the next five years or so.

So he may not achieve astronaut status, but then again, neither did Bezos technically. He may only qualify for “honorary” astronaut wings, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

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A new ‘metaverse’ ETF wants to expose investors to the future of the internet

Fortnite 2
  • A new “metaverse” ETF is looking to court investors bullish on internet innovation.
  • The fund defines the metaverse broadly as the intersection of many virtual worlds and the physical world.
  • The fund’s biggest holdings include household names like Microsoft and Amazon as well as Nvidia and Roblox.
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A new ETF listed on Wednesday is looking to court investors bullish on internet innovation with exposure to the future of the internet.

The Roundhill Ball Metaverse ETF, debuting today on the New York Stock Exchange, focuses on seven categories – including virtual platforms, cloud computing, and hardware – which collectively comprise the so-called metaverse.

The fund will track the Ball Metaverse Index, developed by the venture capitalist Matthew Ball.

The fund sees the metaverse, defined broadly as the intersection of many virtual worlds with the physical one, as a “quasi-successor state of the internet,” akin to how smartphones reshaped earlier versions of the web. Growth in the metaverse will accelerate as new technologies like VR and blockchain gain mainstream adoption, according to an investor pitch deck.

The fund’s biggest equity holdings include household names like Microsoft and Amazon as well as companies well known to gamers, such as Nvidia, Roblox, and Tencent – which owns the world’s most-watched esport, League of Legends. The Chinese conglomerate also holds a 40% stake in Fortnite-maker Epic Games, which has invested heavily in the metaverse.

Ball has written extensively about the metaverse, arguing in one essay that it could “alter how we allocate and monetize modern resources.” The essay points to “gold farming,” referring to players performing in-game labor for real-world compensation, as an early example. Gold farming has already become commonplace in Venezuela, where some games’ virtual money is more stable than the official bolĂ­var, according to The Economist.

The ETF launched at $15 and was trading up 0.73% at 10:30 a.m. ET.

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Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang talks about the value of ethereum, advances in crypto mining and the global semiconductor shortage in a recent interview. Here are the 10 best quotes.

Jensen Huang - Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang speaks during a press conference at The MGM during CES 2018 in Las Vegas on January 7, 2018.
Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang

  • Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang spoke to a group of journalists at the Computex IT conference.
  • He said ethereum will be valuable due to its scalability and credibility in areas including DeFi.
  • He also spoke about Nvidia’s role in the future of crypto mining and said he believes a metaverse is imminent.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jensen Huang, the CEO of chip and graphics card producer Nvidia, recently spoke to a group of journalists at the IT expo Computex about his views on ethereum’s value, how Nvidia’s products fit into the crypto ecosystem and why he thinks we’re on the cusp of creating a metaverse in an interview published by VentureBeat.

Nvidia’s graphic processing units are top-level graphic cards that also have crypto mining capabilities. Huang, a big proponent of artificial intelligence, unveiled a lower resolution graphics card at the conference that has been designed specifically for crypto mining. He also addressed the global chip shortage, Nvidia’s role in it and whether he believes the Chinese government will interfere in the development of artificial intelligence.

Here are Huang’s ten best quotes from the interview, lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

  1. “Am I excited about proof of stake? The answer’s yes….Ethereum has established itself. It has the opportunity now to implement a second generation that carries on from the platform approach and all of the services that are built on top of it. It’s legitimate. It’s established. There’s a lot of credibility. It works well. A lot of people depend on it for DeFi and other things. This is a great time for proof of stake to come.” – on the opportunities ethereum provides and the network’s value for blockchain and crypto.
  2. “We reduced the performance of our GPU on purpose so that if you would like to buy a GPU for gaming, you can. If you’d like to buy a GPU for crypto mining, either you can buy the CMP version, or if you really would like to use the GeForce to do it, unfortunately the performance will be reduced.” – on how Nvidia is trying to decrease graphic card prices and why they developed CMP.
  3. “We’ll just keep working with our supply chain to inform them about the changing world of IT, so that they can be better prepared for the demand that’s coming in the future. But I believe that the areas that we’re in, the markets that we’re in, because we have very specific reasons, will have rich demand for some time to come.” – on managing the ongoing global shortage of semiconductors.
  4. “It’s now established that ethereum is going to be quite valuable. There’s a future where the processing of these transactions can be a lot faster, and because there are so many people built on top of it now, ethereum is going to be valuable. ” – on the outlook for the ethereum network based on its scalability.
  5. “I believe we’re right on the cusp of it. […] There will be many types of metaverses, and video games are one of them, for example. […] We’ll see this overlay, a metaverse overlay if you will, into our physical world.” – on when and how a metaverse will become real.
  6. “You need that blockchain to have some fundamental value, and that fundamental value could be mined. Cryptocurrency is going to be here to stay. Ethereum might not be as hot as it is now. In a year’s time, it may cool down some. But I think crypto mining is here to stay.” – on the future of crypto mining and blockchain networks.
  7. “I believe that there will be a larger market, a larger industry, more designers and creators, designing digital things in virtual reality and metaverses than there will be designing things in the physical world. […] The economy in the metaverse, the economy of Omniverse, will be larger than the economy in the physical world. Digital currency, cryptocurrency, could be used in the world of metaverses.” – on his vision for the omniverse that Nvidia is developing.
  8. “My sense is that we’re welcome in China and we’ll continue to work hard to deserve to be welcome in China, and every other country for that matter.” – on whether the Chinese government will step in and regulate Nvidia’s work on artificial intelligence.
  9. “One of the most important technologies that we have to build, for several of them – in the case of consumers, one of the important technologies is AR, and it’s coming along.” – on the development and accessibility of augmented reality.
  10. “This is the largest market opportunity the IT industry has ever seen. I can understand why it inspires so many competitors. We just need to continue to do our best work and run as fast as we can.” – on the future of the graphics processing unit industry and the competition within it.
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The red-hot NFT market is starting to cool off, as both prices and volumes fall. These 3 sectors are the hardest-hit so far by the slowdown

NFT art

After going stratospheric earlier this year, the red-hot NFT market is starting to cool down. Based on data from nonfungible.com, a tracking and analysis hub for the non-fungible tokens (NFTs), almost every sector has seen a decline both in terms of sales and dollars spent in the last month.

The art sector, where a piece of digital work recently changed hands for a record of nearly $70 million, lost the most ground, followed by the sports and collectibles sectors.

The total amount of NFT sales has declined by almost 28% and the total value of sales fell by almost 14% between March 30th and April 28th, data showed.

NFTs are digital assets such as videos, images, or audio that are based on blockchain technology. They are unique and not exchangeable. Often, anyone online can still access them – but crucially, only one person can own them.

Sale volumes for art NFTs declined by almost 42%, making this the sector with the biggest losses. In the same timeframe, prices dropped by 40.5%. This translates to a sales value drop from over $71 million to $41.5 million as of today.

Crypto artworks had led the NFT craze and were selling for record highs just a few weeks ago. Digital artist Beeple set a record by selling a piece of art for $69 million at a Christie’s auction in March.

Sports and collectibles NFTs followed in second and third place. Sports NFTs, which include player cards, virtual racing cars and even digital racing horses, brought in over 28% less cash and sales declined by over 20%.

Collectibles, which include some of the earliest NFTs like CryptoPunks and CryptoKitties, and are commonly part of a series, saw a price decline of 17.3% and a drop of over 32% in sales. Both prices and sales started to recover in mid-April, but are heading for an overall decline this month.

Collectibles are also the most valuable sector, worth just under $101 million at the end of April, according to the site. In March, the sector was still worth almost $122 million.

The only sector that grew in terms of both sales volume and dollars spent is metaverse – where virtual plots of land and digital real estate are sold. Despite only adding 1.4% sales volume, prices spiked by almost 32%. Metaverse NFTs sold on April 28th were worth almost $21 million.

Gaming NFTs, which are purchasable parts of online games such as a specific player, saw sales volumes decline by around 18%, but were still worth over 123% more, as dollars spent in this sector more than doubled over the last month, reaching over $26 million.

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