Lightspeed’s Mercedes Bent on why the metaverse isn’t overhyped

to chain reaction In this week’s podcast, we jumped into a topic that tends to evoke strong emotions even from people outside the crypto space, namely the metaverse. Mercedes Bent, an investor at Lightspeed Venture Partners and focused on consumer investing in cryptocurrencies, joins us to unpack these many terms and explain why we see their potential.

Bent told TechCrunch: “The reason you think about its potential and geeks like me get excited about it is because there are things you can do about it. [in the metaverse] “You can’t do that in the real world,” he said.

For example, the prospect of attending an event on Metaverse with tens of thousands of other attendees from around the world excites Bent. But Bent is passionate about the potential for the metaverse to make an impact through education beyond entertainment. She shared a hypothetical example that public school students could learn from the world’s best instructors in a metaverse similar to the movie Ready Player One, but without the dystopian element, she did qualify. Bent’s vision aligns with her non-crypto consumer investment in Lightspeed as a small group live education platform. out of school.

But what does the metaverse actually look like? When I asked Bent, who once worked at virtual reality technology company Upload, she said that she used to think that the metaverse had to be connected with VR technology, especially head-mounted display screens.

She later realized that what the metaverse had to offer had more to do with the sense of community it could foster than with the way users physically access it.

“What the 2021 and 2022 eras of metaverse terminology have shown us are not about headsets, but about the sensations, not the physical devices you use. [a] A collective presence, a sense of presence.”

While VR technology itself has been around for decades, Bent took notice as a concept last year because Metaverse offered one feature that classic VR games like Second Life didn’t offer: the ability to convert in-game currency into fiat currency. Assume you have received She believes that cryptocurrencies have made that transition possible.

“Obviously there was in-game currency and there were obviously virtual goods that could be purchased before, but the ability to transfer them in fiat and then use them to pay rent in the real world is something entirely different. We’ve never had this much volume before,” Bent said.

Technological advances have given the metaverse new life, with the onset of the pandemic that gave people the opportunity to spend more time online, she said.

Skeptics believe that the metaverse receives a lot of hype and is not backed by real technology or user adoption. Bent said his own experience suggests that skepticism is expected for all early-stage consumer products.

“This area of ​​exaggeration is not really clear. I mean, they don’t have traction, they’re just ideas. They have to take a leap of faith because they often come from the founders with the most pedigree,” said Bent. According to her website, Bent’s mission as an investor is to support “early-stage consumer businesses that create wealth for underserved individuals and communities.”

As an early-stage consumer investor, Bent recantes the idea that it is too early to fund consumer-facing crypto companies that have not yet honed their user experience.

“There are not many companies. [in web3] All I can say is that it was still large enough to be called a mass audience. We have Metamask but it’s pretty far away but all of these companies [whether] Someone else can replace them,” Bent said. “I think we will see the next WhatsApp, AOL and Google being established in the near future.”

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