Companies Besides Facebook investing in the Metaverse
November 29, 2021
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by Stephen Kanyi

I’m sure you are sick of hearing about the metaverse by now. Since Facebook’s rebrand as Meta, now focused on the metaverse, the internet has been awash with stories about the metaverse. Is it a revolutionary technology or just a passing fad like its predecessor Second Life? No one knows for sure, and that’s the beauty of innovation; the uncertainty. Only time will tell.

But we do have to concede that the idea is exciting. The opportunity to build a whole new universe with none of the limitations of the physical world. The potential could be limitless.

This is exactly why we should not leave it to Facebook to decide what the Metaverse should look like. The metaverse should belong to all of us.

Fortunately for us, Meta, is not the only company venturing into the Metaverse. In fact, the metaverse has become some sort of a gold rush with a lot of companies already following Facebook or laying plans to do so in the coming months.

Here are a few worthy mentions.

1. Tencent

Tencent will perhaps become Meta’s largest competitor in the metaverse. Although the Beijing based tech giant has not officially announced plans to embark into the metaverse, reports from South China Morning Post indicate that it plans to do so in the coming months.

Tencent already has strategic partnerships in plans with ‘metaverse companies’ such as Roblox gaming platform and Epic Games. Also, the tech giant already has virtual offices and mobile payments that would grant it easy access to a massive audience across multiple industries.

It might however face significant roadblocks in this venture most significantly an industry crackdown by the Chinese authorities. Tencent however says that it believes Beijing is “not fundamentally averse to the development of (the) metaverse,” as long as the user experience is “provided under the regulatory framework”.

2. Microsoft

As a company that specializes in creating tools for the office, Microsoft is not being left behind in the Metaverse race. The Seattle based tech firm has partnered with Meta to integrate Microsoft Teams into Zuckerberg’s platform.

Microsoft Teams into Meta’s Workplace will allow workers using Teams or Workplace to view, comment and react to meetings live without the need to switch between apps.

Workplace will also be integrated into Teams so that users can access Workplace content through an app within Teams.

Talking to The Verge Jeff Teper, head of Microsoft 365 collaboration said One thing I’ve learned … there’s not going to be a one and only communications tool on the planet. People are going to choose a number of tools, so I think it’s on us as responsible vendors to make sure they can integrate and interoperate.”

Also on their Meta plans, Microsoft has announced a flagship solo Metaverse project: Microsoft Mesh.

The project is meant to make use of Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 headset to enter the virtual working world where users can appear as avatars within a virtual office.

The project says the company will let users “engage with eye contact, facial expressions, and gestures so your personality shines”.

3. Gemini

Founded by the Winklevoss twins, Gemini’s entry into the metaverse is perhaps the biggest twist of fate in the US tech sector. After having allegedly been defrauded off Facebook’s shares by Mark Zuckerberg, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss are now competing with what could have been their company Meta (Facebook) for a piece of a potentially large metaverse market.

The two are in the process of signing the last documents on Series A funding to the tune of around $400 million that will see their New Parent Company Gemini Space Station, LLC, valued at $7.1 billion.

The capital round led by capital management giant Morgan Creek Digital featuring participation from ParaFi Capital is more than just a race between the twins and Mark Zuckerberg. It is a battle between the so-called Walled Gardens where companies like Meta (Facebook) profit from user data and free open-source resources.

There’s these two parallel paths, in terms of technology right now. There’s a centralised path, like Facebook or Fortnite, that is one step away from being a metaverse, and that’s totally fine. But there is another path, which is the decentralised metaverse and that’s the metaverse where we believe there’s a greater choice, independence and opportunity, and there is technology that protects the rights and dignity of individuals,” says Cameron Winklevoss, 40, speaking to Forbes from his home in California.

The two began by purchasing about $11 million worth of Bitcoins in 2013 estimated to be about 1% of all bitcoins in existence at the time. They then continued with their passion for cryptocurrency by positioning themselves as a destination for investors looking to get into the crypto game all legitimately.

Today Gemini’s revenue has increased 600% and is on track to become profitable by the end of this year.

These are only a few of the companies looking to take a piece of the metaverse. Other noteworthy mentions include the likes of Roblox, Epic, Google and hell, even Apple wants a piece of the action!

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