Facebook, the company behind Instagram, WhatsApp, and the Facebook platform itself changed its name to “Meta” on the 28th of October 2021. Ever since, it seems that the “buzz” around what the tech world calls the “metaverse” has nothing short of exploded. Every week, new articles are posted about ventures trying to capitalize on this novelty. But what is it? And is it really new?

Obviously, it’s a sign of our times that novelties are often announced with a loud bang to make sure the target audience (i.e. consumers and investors) have heard about it. In this case, we are convinced it is more an evolution than a revolution. Nevertheless, it is an interesting topic to write something about. So, what is meta. Basically, meta refers to “the metaverse,” a digital world parallel to what we could call the “offline world” or “real world.” We could discuss about what is “real” though. To a six year old who has grown up with online communities, a birthday party in VR is not “less real” than the same party hosted in the garden.

Meta could therefore be referred to as a “parallel” world, where identities become malleable, “upgradeable” and one might argue somewhat more “fluid.” Time Magazine traced the origins of the metaverse back to the novel Snow Crash (1992) and Ready Player One (2011). To be fair, I read neither of them. Yet, I do remember “The Sims” and “Second Life”. While “The Sims” (definitely the early versions) was played in “single player mode,” “Second Life” was a true “metaverse” in the sense that it was almost a copy of our world (with its pros and cons). It also held a crucial element: a currency (Linden Dollars) – a predecessor of Bitcoin – albeit without the blockchain technology. Even companies like Coca-Cola & IBM made sure they had a virtual presence in “Second Life.”

“New technologies are merging together, enabling the move towards a mature metaverse.”

With the Metaverse, those “parallel” worlds such as “Second Life” and “World of Warcraft” will be combined with new(er) technologies such as blockchain-supported cryptocurrencies, AR/VR, AI and societal changes (the covid pandemic pushing us to more homework, more self-learning study methods, etc.). To be clear: this is NOT a fad, the metaverse is here to stay. Mankind will be united, more virtually than physically but this is a core change in how we live our lives as species. An interesting company in that sense is “Immersed VR” – they are thinking about fully virtual offices in which you will able to meet co-workers, play a game during lunchtime and work with as many screens as you like.

Years ago, some of my friends who visited the Facebook offices said he noticed a poster on the wall: “If we don’t find the thing that kills facebook, someone else will.” The company lived up to its promise, first by buying its way into its successors (Instagram, WhatsApp) and simultaneously by working on groundbreaking technologies and working with innovative companies like Immersed. While I’m not exactly the biggest fan of the company, I seriously think about buying stock as I’m sure the move to “meta” was more than a name change.

To conclude, at Nemeon we also follow the tech evolutions closely. We also noticed that meta decided on a strategic partnership with AWS for various of its AI and compute services. We do think that such powerful alliance will benefit both parties. It also reaffirms the innovative spirit in both companies.