Edited by Christian Thompson
Seeing the word “metaverse” everywhere but still not sure what it means for you and your company? The metaverse is more than an abstract buzzword stolen from science fiction; it’s a reality - though that “reality” differs in many ways. From global conglomerates to small NFT startups, many leaders have recognized the importance (and monetary value) of investing in the space early on. Curious about concrete applications of the metaverse and the exponential trends we spotted first? Slip on your VR headset (not really) and jump into the metaverse discussion as we explore the topics we’ll be watching in 2022.
While virtual worlds and headsets may dominate the current metaverse conversation, the metaverse, as defined initially in the 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, is a combination of the physical and the metaphysical. Both Nike and H&M have embraced collaborations with NFT startups as a way of combining physical products with virtual equivalents.
Announced in December, Nike acquired NFT startup RTFKT for an undisclosed amount, which is when our AI first spotted the inflection point and the signal shot up more than 168,000%. Before the acquisition, RTFKT sold over 600 pairs of NFT shoes, along with 600 pairs of the real sneakers, in under 6 min back in February 2021 for $3.1 million under a collaboration with NFT artist Fewocious. Most recently, RTFKT announced a collaboration with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami to produce digital avatars. However, the sentiment surrounding the RTFKT collaboration hasn’t been all positive, with rumors of insider trading and criticism of the “Dutch Auction” style release. Many have compared Nike’s acquisition of the startup to Adidas’ recent collaboration with Bored Ape Yacht Club, PUNKS Comic, and gmoney to sell limited-edition customizable NFTs, in line with its mission to support NFT startups rather than acquire them.
Global clothing brand giant H&M tried a different approach when they created a physical store installation with CEEK, with the ability to walk through a virtual store to view clothes displayed on giant screens and pay with CEEK coin. CEEK is a decentralized platform that promises to connect music artists, athletes, and other digital content creators directly to their fans in virtual worlds. H&M approached the metaverse as an aesthetic, hopping on the evolving idea of how the metaverse should look. For now, working with metaverse and NFT startups is a winning strategy for companies with brand recognition, and virtual products are proving to be just as lucrative as their physical counterparts.