Connect with us

Startups

As Meta pushes for the metaverse, it may be a better fit for some, not all

Published

on

This article was contributed by Olga Vorobyeva, founder of Vox Consulting

In true technical style, there is no single universally accepted definition of the metaverse. Simply put, the metaverse is a vast network of 3D worlds and simulations rendered in real-time for cooperation and participation. This is not a virtual reality experience or a virtual economy with avatars sticking out, but a way to maintain identity, objects, payments, history, and ownership continuity.

The metaverse market may reach $783.3 billion in 2024 versus $478.7 billion in 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate of 13.1%, based on studies by Bloomberg with data from Newzoo, IDC, PWC, Statista, and Two Circles. It is set to expand beyond AR and VR content, incorporating live entertainment and taking a share of social-media advertising revenue. According to that same data, the entire metaverse may reach 2.7 times that of just gaming software, services, and advertising revenue.

The metaverse enables users to interact virtually; a digital reality that combines various aspects of social media, online games, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and cryptocurrency. Augmented reality superimposes visual, sound, and other sensory data into real-world settings to improve the user experience. Virtual reality is entirely virtual, enhancing the fictional reality.

Event

The 2nd Annual GamesBeat and Facebook Gaming Summit and GamesBeat: Into the Metaverse 2


Learn More

And the metaverse is already rife with exciting projects, experiences, and platforms.

Kalao, for example, is a popular virtual world that combines NFTs, business collaboration, VR experiences, and a marketplace, all built on the Avalanche blockchain. SoftBank (one of the most influential tech companies globally) invested a whopping $93 million in The Sandbox’s metaverse game. And bridging the gap between the real and virtual worlds, Metahero is a 3D-scanning technology that recreates real-world objects, humans included, and recreates them into ultra-HD avatars. According to CoinMarketCap, Metahero already has an operational, 4K public chamber ready for scanning in Doha, Qatar, with plans to place more scanning chambers in Tokyo, Berlin, New York, Seoul, and more. MetaHero has ties with Sony (through exclusive partnerships), which is undoubtedly well-placed to bring the metaverse to homes through its PlayStation brand.

But all is not well in the metaverse. A black hole is forming, and its name is Meta.

In an interview with The Verge, Mark Zuckerberg turned his head, announcing that Facebook would evolve from a social network to a “metaverse company” over the next five years. Much like Google announced that its name was now Alphabet, mainly for accounting reasons, Facebook renamed to Meta, but did so differently. By revealing the change with fanfare, including demos of its Horizon social VR platform, it made Meta seem more than just an exercise in good money management.

So while Facebook’s apparent endorsement of the metaverse sounds positive, it may be the worst thing to happen to the industry since its inception.

A parallel universe at your fingertips

For many, the metaverse is part of a dream for the future of the internet. Partly, it is an accurate way to reflect some current trends in online infrastructure, including the rise of 3D worlds generated in real-time.

The metaverse is a collective of byte-based alternatives to the characteristics of the atomized physical world. While many people think of the metaverse as a version of the dystopian book and movie Ready Player One, much of the metaverse will have much more utilitarian value. In the end, we will always be connected to the metaverse by expanding our senses of sight, hearing, and touch and integrating digital elements with the digital world.

Neil Stevenson coined the term “metaverse” in his 1992 novel Snowcrash. He introduced a virtual reality world like the internet, which he called the “metaverse” in which users would interact with digital forms of themselves called “avatars.”

In fiction, the utopian metaverse can be portrayed as a new frontier at which we can all rewrite social norms and value systems, free of cultural and economic sclerosis. Unlike Ready Player One, which portrays a metaverse in which the natural world gives way to an infinite virtual world, multiple metauniverses in our world are likely to emerge.

But equally important to a flourishing metaverse will be building a community that values the contributions of developers and creators who create resources and experiences for most users, whether they are developing a new game, digital objects, or entire virtual worlds. The metaverse will allow users to create their content, distribute it freely in a widely accessible digital world.

The metaverse will be an endless world encompassing both physical and virtual worlds. Blockchain technology will ensure the security and public availability of transactions and identities without supervision from governments, corporations, or another regulatory body.

And herein lies the problem with Meta and its ambitions.

When Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, his first message wasn’t “hello Facebook, Google, Alibaba, Tencent, and Amazon.” It was “hello world.” It was supposed to be the internet by the people, for the people.

However, we have allowed the internet to become centralized and controlled by a few massive corporations. The risk in this model is extraordinary.

So, what’s next for the metaverse?

Currently, according to data from Ethernodes, we know that around 70% of Ethereum nodes are running on hosted services or cloud providers, as we commonly call them. 23% of the Ethereum network sits on one provider; Amazon Web Services. Now imagine what happens if Jeff Bezos decides to launch AmazonCoin, on Amazon’s blockchain and (as I’m confident the terms and conditions allow) chooses to outlaw ETH projects on AWS. While that may not bring about the end of Ethereum, it will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the world’s “Blockchain app store.”

So do we believe that Zuckerberg has our best intentions at heart? Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp collect data from their users constantly. They use that personal information to target consumers’ advertising and profit from that information without recompense or compensation. Meta’s market cap stands at $935 billion as of November 2021, with 2.91 billion active monthly user numbers, and advertising comprised 98.8% of the company’s total revenue in 2020.

Does anyone believe that Meta will act differently in the near future, embracing the metaverse’s true vision? Or will it continue to gain money and power by leveraging a new class of personal data – eye tracking, mood, physical movements, and even potential or prevalent mental health issues?

You could argue that this is just a product of late-stage capitalism. After all, cryptocurrencies, which are supposed to be the bastion of the decentralized economy, have fallen into the same trap that fiat has. As with traditional currency, a small number of people own the majority of crypto tokens, such as Bitcoin.

What could be a reset button for the entire internet, finally delivering on the promise of a system by the people and for the people, is likely to become another centralized ecosystem – with a few corporations in control – and governments maintaining the ability to censor content, block access, and put up firewalls to stop citizens from telling their story to the outside world.

The good, the bad, and the unknown

One positive thing that Facebook’s rebranding is doing for this ecosystem is that it essentially validates the entire concept of a “metaverse” in the mainstream world and validates what builders have been doing in Ethereum over the years. For Facebook, to give weight to the metaverse’s products and services and change the name of the entire company to something relative is a strong signal that we should not ignore (whether you like the company or not).

When Mark Zuckerberg took us on a whistle-stop tour of the metaverse – the still hypothetical next phase of the internet – he showed us a future that delivers a single space, fusing digital and physical reality in a single platform. Zuckerberg previously advertised the metaverse would be “the embodied internet in which you are in the experience, not just gaze at it,” he said as he walked through the demonstration.

And while the global pandemic has heightened interest in the metaverse as more people work from home or remote locations, it is essential for us all not to lose sight of what is being proposed and by whom. There are concerns that the metaverse, under the control of Meta, will become a centralized, dystopian information grab, designed only to serve its parent company and increase its power beyond measure.

Suppose we are to create and virtually live in a place where you can work, play, learn, create, shop, and interact with friends in a virtual online environment. In that case, I want everyone to have a stake in that, gain from it, be compensated for their time and energy, and help each other grow. Left unchecked, all we’ll do, collectively, is allow Meta to become our keepers, and that is inherently inhuman.

Olga is the Founder of Vox Consulting, a marketing firm for blockchain, DeFi, and NFT startups, and a former Head of Marketing at SwissBorg – the first crypto wealth management platform (TOP -100 Coinmarketcap). 

Source link

Startups

Airtable chief revenue officer, chief people officer and chief product officer are out • TechCrunch

Published

on

As part of Airtable’s decision to cut 20% of staff, or 254 employees, three executives are “parting ways” with the company as well, a spokesperson confirmed over email. The chief revenue officer, chief people officer and chief product officer are no longer with the company.

Airtable’s chief revenue officer, Seth Shaw, joined in November 2020 just one month before Airtable’s chief producer officer Peter Deng came on board. Airtable’s chief people officer, Johanna Jackman, joined Airtable in May 2021 with an ambitious goal to double the company’s headcount to 1,000 in 12 months. The three executives are departing today as a mutual decision with Airtable, but will advise the company through the next phase of transition, the company says. All three executives were reached out to for further comment and this story will be updated with their responses if given.

An Airtable spokesperson declined to comment on if the executives were offered severance pay. The positions will be succeeded by internal employees, introduced at an all-hands meeting to be held this Friday.

Executive departures at this scale are rare, even if the overall company is going through a heavy round of cuts. But CEO and founder Howie Liu emphasized, in an email sent to staff but seen by TechCrunch, that the decision – Airtable’s first-ever lay off in its decade-long history – was made following Airtable’s choice to pivot to a more “narrowly focused mode of execution.”

In the email, Liu described Airtable’s goal – first unveiled in October – to capture enterprise clients with connected apps. Now, instead of the bottom-up adoption that first fueled Airtable’s rise, the company wants to be more focused in this new direction. Liu’s e-mail indicates that the startup will devote a majority of its resources toward “landing and expanding large enterprise companies with at least 1k FTEs – where our connected apps vision will deliver the most differentiated value.”

The lean mindset comes after Airtable reduced spend in marketing media, real estate, business technology and infrastructure, the e-mail indicates. “In trying to do too many things at once, we have grown our organization at a breakneck pace over the past few years. We will continue to emphasize growth, but do so by investing heavily in the levers that yield the highest growth relative to their cost,” Liu wrote.

Airtable seems to be emphasizing that its reduced spend doesn’t come with less ambition, or ability to execute. A spokesperson added over e-mail that all of Airtable’s funds from its $735 million Series F are “still intact.” They also said that the startup’s enterprise side, which makes up the majority of Airtable’s revenue, is growing more than 100% year over year; the product move today just doubles down on that exact cohort.

Current and former Airtable employees can reach out to Natasha Mascarenhas on Signal, a secure encrypted messaging app, at 925 271 0912. You can also DM her on Twitter, @nmasc_. 



Source link

Continue Reading

Startups

Kubernetes Gateway API reality check: Ingress controller is still needed

Published

on

No doubt the new Kubernetes excitement is the Gateway API. One of the more significant changes in the Kubernetes project, the Gateway API is sorely needed. More granular and robust control over Kubernetes service networking better addresses the growing number of use cases and roles within the cloud-native paradigm.

Shared architecture — at all scales — requires flexible, scalable and extensible means to manage, observe and secure that infrastructure. The Gateway API is designed for those tasks. Once fully matured, it will help developers, SREs, platform teams, architects and CTOs by making Kubernetes infrastructure tooling and governance more modular and less bespoke.

But let’s be sure the hype does not get ahead of today’s needs.

The past and future Kubernetes gateway API

There remains a gap between present and future states of Ingress control in Kubernetes. This has led to a common misconception that the Gateway API will replace the Kubernetes Ingress Controller (KIC) in the near term or make it less useful over the longer term. This view is incorrect for multiple reasons.

Event

Intelligent Security Summit

Learn the critical role of AI & ML in cybersecurity and industry specific case studies on December 8. Register for your free pass today.


Register Now

Ingress controllers are now embedded in the functional architecture of most Kubernetes deployments. They have become de facto. At some point, the Gateway API will be sufficiently mature to replace all functionality of the Ingress API and even the implementation-specific annotations and custom resources that many of the Ingress implementations use, but that day remains far off.

Today, most IT organizations are still either in the early adoption or the testing stage with Kubernetes. For many, just getting comfortable with the new architecture, networking constructs, and application and service management requirements requires considerable internal education and digestion.

Gateway API and Ingress controllers are not mutually exclusive

As we’ve done at NGINX, other Ingress maintainers will presumably implement the Gateway API in their products to take advantage of the new functionality and stay current with the Kubernetes API and project. Just as RESTful APIs are useful for many tasks, the Kubernetes API underpins many products and services, all built on the foundation of its powerful container orchestration engine.

The Gateway API is designed to be a universal component layer for managing service connectivity and behaviors within Kubernetes. It is expressive and extensible, making it useful for many roles, from DevOps to security to NetOps.

As a team that has invested considerable resources into an open source Ingress controller, NGINX could have chosen to integrate the Gateway API into our existing work. Instead, we elected to leverage the Gateway API as a standalone, more open-ended project. We chose this path so as not to project the existing constraints of our Ingress controller implementation onto ways we might hope to use the Gateway API or NGINX in the future. With fewer constraints, it is easier to fail faster or to explore new designs and concepts. Like most cloud-native technology, the Gateway API construct is designed for loose coupling and modularity ­— even more so than the Ingress controller, in fact.

We are also hopeful that some of our new work around the Gateway API is taken back into the open-source community. We have been present in the Kubernetes community for quite some time and are increasing our open-source efforts around the Gateway API.

It could be interpreted that the evolving API provides an invaluable insertion point and opportunity for a “do-over” on service networking. But that does not mean that everyone is quick to toss out years of investment in other projects. Ingress will continue to be important as Gateway API matures and develops, and the two are not mutually exclusive.

Plan for a hybrid future

Does it sound like we think the Kubernetes world should have its Gateway API cake and eat its Ingress controller too? Well, we do. Guilty as charged. Bottom line: We believe Kubernetes is a big tent with plenty of room for both new constructs and older categories. Improving on existing Ingress controllers —which were tethered to a limited annotation capability that induced complexity and reduced modularity — remains critical for organizations for the foreseeable future.

Yes, the Gateway API will help us improve Ingress controllers and unleash innovation, but it’s an API, not a product category. This new API is not a magic wand nor a silver bullet. Smart teams are planning for this hybrid future, learning about the improvements the Gateway API will bring while continuing to plan around ongoing Ingress controller improvement. The beauty of this hybrid reality is that everyone can run clusters in the way they know and desire. Every team gets what they want and need.

Brian Ehlert is director of product management at NGINX.

Source link

Continue Reading

Startups

4 Ways to Use Social Media for Market Research

Published

on

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Social media has undoubtedly changed the way brands think about digital marketing. Just a few years ago, networks like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn only played a small part in global marketing strategies. But as their user numbers have grown, so has their importance for digital marketing. Today, social media channels offer digital marketers excellent market research opportunities.

How market research sets brands apart

Market research has always been an integral part of building a brand. Conducting market research means gathering information and learning more about your target market, establishing potential customer personas, and evaluating how successful your product could be.

Market research also helps quantify product-market fit. Once your product or service has been launched, research allows brand teams to check whether customers receive the messages they want to communicate.

With a company’s marketing goals, market research forms the foundation of successful brand marketing strategies. In short, it is hard to overstate the importance of market research. Still, there are drawbacks. Traditional market research techniques, such as interviews and focus groups, can be time-consuming. These tools can also be tough on resources if the research is done thoroughly, forcing some brands to launch a marketing strategy built on hunches rather than data. Others limit the scope of their study in the hope that findings may still be valid. Both of these options are putting brands at risk.

Related: The 7 Secrets of Truly Successful Personal Brands

Social media lifts market research limitations

Social media platforms have all the tools necessary to provide brands with answers to market research questions. Social media can offer insights into branding, content messaging and creative design, as well as improve awareness of competitor activity and industry trends.

Much of this is made possible by the sheer number of potential customers brands can access via social media. Facebook alone has nearly three billion active users every month, which has been growing for nearly a decade. Instagram continues to gain ground, with currently around two billion active users.

Social media usage figures are projected to grow for at least the next few years. More than 4.26 billion people spent time on social media in 2021. Statisticians believe that figure will rise to nearly six billion within five years.

But social media can do more than provide user numbers. The companies behind Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok know a great amount of information about their users, starting with demographics and including lifestyle preferences. These insights enable brands to access the right audience faster than ever before and at lower costs.

Related: In a Crowded Field of Emerging Franchises, Only the Strongest Brands Thrive

How to use social media for market research

Social media channels allow brands to access several layers of information about their industry, the brand itself, competitors, messaging and creative design.

1. Industry insights

Using social media channels is an efficient way to assess industry trends in real-time. Channels like LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram make it easy to spot and isolate leading trends and changes in those trends. A few years ago, images captured consumer attention. More recently, however, video-based channels like TikTok have cemented the importance of video as a tool to connect with customers. Of course, brand teams can choose to ignore certain trends, but it is still important to understand the drivers behind the industry.

In this context, industry drivers are not only topics or tools. Social media has created a relatively new digital marketing phenomenon — working with influencers. Identifying and working with the right influencers can be a critical driver of business growth.

Before the advent of social media channels, gathering similar information required more time and in-depth analysis simply because the information was not as easily accessible.

2. Competitor research

Social media has made it easier to conduct competitor research. Companies from virtually every industry sector have started embracing social media channels to connect with customers and partners. As a result, it is far easier to understand your competitors’ marketing strategies and analyze which marketing tactics and channels work best for them.

Following a competitor’s social media channels helps brands understand what audiences engage with and which content they ignore. Brand teams gain a deeper insight into the mindset of their competitors’ clients. Following these channels regularly allows you to clearly understand your competitors, their audiences, and their marketing approach.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Competitive Research for Small Businesses

3. Brand positioning

Are your target audiences perceiving your brand the way you would like to be perceived? Monitoring social media allows your marketing team to answer this question quickly. Hashtags and search functions make it easy to assess how a brand is being discussed without any delay associated with traditional market research methods.

As a result of gaining instant insights, your team can adjust and correct its brand messaging quicker than ever.

4. Content messaging and design

A traditional approach to determining advertising messages might involve A/B testing, among other methods. While these types of market research are important for developing successful (traditional) advertising campaigns, they can be expensive and delay the campaign.

Social media channels allow brands to test their content messaging and design directly with minimal costs. Through likes and comments, brands gain instant customer feedback. Throughout a few posts, it will become clear whether customers are more likely to engage with images, videos or webinars, for example.

If a brand uses social media to generate sales, conversion figures will quickly deliver more tangible insights than A/B testing can. Those insights can immediately be applied to the advertising content, allowing brands to conduct market research and put their findings into practice simultaneously.

Using social media channels for market research lets brands learn about industry trends and competitor activity in real-time. Brand teams can also assess brand perception, messaging and content design without delay, optimizing market research results and overall campaign performance.

Continue Reading

Trending

URGENT: CYBER SECURITY UPDATE