Connect with us


How the metaverse will impact governance, privacy, fraud, identity, and more



As the metaverse coalesces, big players in the space are making enormous investments. And while there are many business opportunities in the various metaverses for studios of every size, there’s a large, and growing, number of considerations to be mindful of as they build out their business plans. Companies need to start taking a hard look at what this new market will demand, from how to monetize user experiences safely to the legal and taxation requirements that will spring up, to the minutia of virtual economics.

At the 2nd Annual GamesBeat and Facebook Gaming Summit, Chris Hewish, president of video game commerce company Xsolla was joined by James Gatto, partner at the law firm of Sheppard Mullin, and games, blockchain and fintech leader, and Emily Stonehouse, chief compliance officer, Linden Lab Second Life to discuss these issues and more.

Self-governance versus government regulation

Too often, technology companies innovate first and then figure out the ethical thing to do later. But growth slows when outside regulations are imposed, and innovation stalls. As the metaverse looms, the question of self-regulation becomes more urgent.

The short answer is that there really is no one size fits all, Gatto said, particularly because the metaverse won’t be just one big world, but likely will be composed of a variety of spaces.

“The simple answer is that there are certain aspects of what happens within a metaverse that can fall into the realm of self-governance,” he said. “Just like any other online platform, a social media platform or otherwise, assuming you create a valid and binding terms of service, you can set certain rules, community guidelines, and other parameters of what the platform will or will not permit within that metaverse. There’s a fair amount of flexibility. However, it’s not infinite.”

But to the extent that the metaverse will be a transactional space, governmental regulation will apply whether it’s a walled garden or not, for instance on ecommerce and other internet-based transactions to some extent. You can’t totally escape government regulation. Commerce engenders tax issues, the movement of money requires money laundering laws, and so on. Real-world intellectual property (IP) law will apply by default absent some contractual agreement to the contrary. Decentralized governance through blockchain technology has much to recommend itself, but you can’t completely decentralize, and you can’t avoid real-world law.

Stonehouse also pointed to the issue of the bad actors who can poison any online space. Our experience with 2D social arenas has only proven that social will always require some kind of moderation.

“Just like the real world, if you have X number of people, there will be a certain number of people who are bad people, who want to troll people, grief people,” she said. “You need to have a way to protect people. There’s some kind of governance you need to set up. You need to have rules and terms of service and community standards to say, these things are acceptable in our world, and these things are not.”

Very basically, it’s about ensuring that your community is functioning correctly, and community members are safe. These kind of regulations could possibly be built into smart contracts, so that violations can automatically be enforced if they’re violated, in a new kind of self-governance Hewlish suggested.

DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) can also potentially be used as a way to enforce regulations. DAOs run like corporations, with token holders who vote on the activity of the DAO. A community member might get voted off the island if enough token holders think someone is not operating in a way that adheres to the community guidelines. And drilling down, each platform in the metaverse might have its own overarching community rules, and then each region within those larger communities might have their own — an 18-years-of-age-and-over area, for instance.

Combating fraud in the metaverse

Digital commerce in the real world already has so many money laundering, phishing, piracy, and fraud concerns — it’s inevitable that the metaverse will have its own variety of schemes.

Any game with an economy, creators making things and selling things, and money being transmitted, will be subject to a broad array of regulations, from money laundering to cybersecurity, privacy and consumer protection, Stonehouse said, but establishing and enforcing these regulations is on the the money transmitter. Linden Lab created its own for Second Life, and is expanding that money service business, Tilia, into other games.

The benefit of blockchain in these virtual worlds, is that players can also purchase NFTs and trade them across platforms. And even if a game company shuts down, that asset may be usable in other contexts. Once the interoperability portion of the equation is nailed down, that will create even greater value for NFTs.

The issue of data privacy and identity

The amount of personal information that’s being gathered about players in the metaverse can’t be ignored. It far exceeds what’s gathered in the flat-screen world. In the AR/VR version of the metaverse, so much more behavioral information will be gatherable, when things like eye movement can be tracked and logged.

“One thing people need to be aware of when they’re in these metaverses is, what is this game taking from me? How are they making money? How are they using my data?” Stonehouse said. “If you’re in a game or in a metaverse where that metaverse is relying on selling your data, be aware of that.”

Another interesting issue is that folks in the metaverse will have multiple identities, whether that’s your actual identity in a professional context, to your friends-and-family identity, to your fantasy persona, which you wouldn’t want connected to your real life.

“Part of this is trying to figure out, in addition to all the traditional data privacy issues Emily mentioned, when someone has multiple identities, can you link those together if they want them separate?” Gatto said. “If you’re using the same device for everything, if it’s all device-based, you can track at least the user of the device, although it could be one user or more than one.”

Companies like Microsoft are working on standards now. The concept of decentralized identity has been raised, or self-sovereign identity, where people control their identity through blockchain technology and limit what they disclose to whom, in what level of detail. That would take the control away from platforms and keep consumers safer.

But all these issues only scratch the surface, Gatto said. The most important thing to consider is that whether you’re building platforms for the metaverse, or using someone else’s platform and building some capacity within that metaverse, you need to talk to a lawyer who’s knowledgeable in these areas early on to understand the issues.

“Don’t wait until you’re getting ready to launch to get legal review, because there are a lot of legal pitfalls,” he added. “You have to build things into your platform to do it right from the beginning. It’s much easier to do that than try to fix it later on.”

Source link


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



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


Kubernetes Gateway API reality check: Ingress controller is still needed



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.


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


4 Ways to Use Social Media for Market Research



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