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What is a chief metaverse officer and why are companies like Disney and P&G appointing one?

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Growing conversations around the metaverse across multiple sectors show that organizations are increasingly looking to throw their weight behind this nascent immersive world.

This new virtual world offers incredible promise. Gartner predicts that by 2026, 25% of people around the world will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, socializing and entertainment. So it’s not surprising that over $120 billion has been invested in the metaverse in 2022 alone, dwarfing the $57 billion invested in all of last year, per a report from McKinsey. Furthermore, the report projects the metaverse could grow to $5 trillion in value by 2030.

This huge promise has galvanized companies to position their businesses to reap the metaverse’s benefits. Organizations like Disney, P&G and LVMH have recently appointed chief metaverse officers, while others, like Nike, Balenciaga and Gucci, are hiring for metaverse-related jobs. But what is a chief metaverse officer — and why should an organization hire one today? 

Typically, a chief metaverse officer (CMTO) is responsible for the development and maintenance of a company’s online presence in the metaverse. However, some industry leaders are debating the need for, and the definition of a chief metaverse officer.

Scott Keeney (aka DJ Skee), CMTO at TSX Entertainment, told VentureBeat that “a chief metaverse officer would be an individual with vast experience in the [metaverse] space with deep knowledge of video games and the Web3 ecosystem. Along with technical knowledge, the typical chief metaverse officer is also expected to be well-versed in the creative side of the market and be able to drive an organization’s metaverse efforts. This includes knowing and recruiting individuals with a background in development platforms such as Unreal Engine, Unity and CryEngine … or Blender and Maya.”

Keeney further noted that the CMTO must have a vision of the metaverse environment, in addition to technical expertise in cryptocurrency, cloud computing, blockchain and gaming engines. 

Ultimately, the chief metaverse officer manages the organization’s brand, image, mission and vision across various virtual platforms and accessories, he said.

Stable leadership and management needed

As the metaverse is still in its early phases, it’s not surprising that only a small portion of the C-suite fully understands the metaverse — as Apple’s CEO Tim Cook admits in an article — and how it might shape things across the enterprise in the next few years. However, Marty Resnik, VP and analyst at Gartner, believes “this is the best time for learning, exploring and preparing for a metaverse with limited implementation.”

Similarly, Vanessa Mullin, business development manager for metaverse and interactive media at Agora, told VentureBeat that “for a business that intends to experiment with the metaverse, employing a CMTO is inevitable.”

“When you think of C-suite roles, they are designed to have particular strategy and resources, as well as management principles that flow from the very tip of the arrow,” she added. “How a company moves forward is based a lot on having a team of very effective leaders pulling their teams in the right direction. The way the metaverse is predicted to go, huge resources and responsibility are going to need innovative, but stable, leadership and management.”

For a business exploring how it will fit into the wider landscape and can take advantage of the endless opportunities within the metaverse, it’s the CMTO’s task to work out the angles and find what works. Hiring a CMTO will help a company stay on top of emerging metaverse trends and focus on what aspects of these trends will help meet their business’ specific needs. 

But do you need a CMTO at this point?

But while Mullin believes it’s imperative to hire a metaverse team right off the bat, she suggests that a CMTO might come in later. “To start, I think a small metaverse ‘strike team’ will suffice. Someone to test, play and research what works best for your business. Once you find your footing and establish your ‘probable mass function,’ then you can hire a metaverse officer to manage and execute on your roadmaps,” she said. 

On the other hand, if moving some of your business into the metaverse is a priority, you might have appointed your chief metaverse officer already. 

It’s a CMTO’s job to figure out what use cases for the metaverse are best for their company, said Keeney. “It might not make sense to build a bank in the metaverse on a platform like Roblox, or Fortnite, or Decentraland. The CMTO has to figure out new ways to interact or engage or help transactions in the metaverse and build tools to get the business there.”

As Cathy Hackl, founder and chief metaverse officer at Journey, said, “This is how you can test assumptions in some of these virtual worlds or test how your brand might be able to do certain things. You can do those things as prototypes and privately.”

The world is still some years away from mass adoption of metaverse platforms. But if you’re building your own metaverse in anticipation, you need someone who can start moving the bits and pieces in the right direction now. P&G launched a digital platform called BeautySPHERE this year, and reimagined a popular TV ad from the 1980s into a video game. Nike bought a virtual sneaker company, and created a world modeled on its real-life headquarters. Starbucks is introducing coffee-themed NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, linked to its customer loyalty program.

Getting in on the metaverse early

Gartner predicts that “up until 2024, direct opportunities for large-scale adoption in the metaverse will be limited,” adding that “the market is beginning to explore and experiment with applications and use cases with high, long-term value.” The state of the metaverse today may be far from mainstream — even with all the investment in the space, Gartner estimates the metaverse will become mature by 2030. But if your business is looking to be a player in the metaverse when it reaches full maturity, the time to build a metaverse team — and even to appoint a CMTO — is now.

Keeney claims that this early phase of the metaverse is important. “It reminds me a lot of the dot-com era — there was so much hype and people were confused by it. It can be very intimidating; everybody was getting into it, we all knew that it was the future and it just accelerated so quickly. Then it actually had to be built, after which it slowly took over our lives. And that’s what I think is going to happen with the metaverse, like we’re in that phase. We have hit that place where people are now asking questions about it and getting infused by it,” he said.

By hiring a CMTO, your business invests in a long-term strategy that will take you into the metaverse ahead of your customers. An executive who oversees metaverse-related work will interface with many departments: product, marketing, business development and partnerships, policy, legal and more. A cross-company perspective requires someone with peripheral vision and the ability to unify a strategy. It will offer a glimpse into a future when the metaverse is neither a novelty nor a separate entity, but an established paradigm that touches every element of your business.

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Amazon may lay off 20,000 employees, including managers: Report

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Amazonmay lay off about 20,000 employees across divisions as the company reevaluates its pandemic-induced hiring spree, according to a media report.

A Computerworld report stated that the tech giant could lay off employees across the company, including distribution centre workers, technology staff, and corporate executives. Staff at all levels will likely be affected, it found.

Last month, the New York Times reported that Amazon plans to lay off approximately 10,000 people, and “the cuts will focus on Amazon’s devices organisation, including the voice-assistant Alexa, as well as at its retail division and in human resources”.

However, according to Computerworld, the layoffs could impact nearly double the number of employees– roughly 6% of the company’s corporate employees and about 1.3% of its global workforce of more than 1.5 million composed primarily of hourly workers.

YourStory could not independently verify the report.

Corporate staff have been told that employees will receive a 24-hour notice and severance pay, in accordance with their company contracts, the Computerworld report noted. “There is a sense of fear among employees in the company as the news has come out,” the report added, quoting a source who was informed directly about the layoff effort.

The layoffs would be the largest staff reduction in Amazon’s history.

“There is no specific department or location mentioned for the cuts; it is across the business. We were told this is as a result of over-hiring during the pandemic and the need for cost-cutting as the company’s financials have been on a declining trend,” the source told Computerworld.

After the New York Times report, Amazon Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy shared some information about role eliminations in a note. Jassy confirmed that layoffs were occurring, though he did not specify the planned number of employees to be laid off.

“Our annual planning process extends into the new year, which means there will be more role reductions as leaders continue to make adjustments. Those decisions will be shared with impacted employees and organisations early in 2023,” Jassy wrote in the message, noting that Amazon had already communicated that layoffs would occur in the Devices and Books businesses, and would be extending a voluntary reduction offer for some employees in the People, Experience, and Technology (PXT) organisation. 

“We haven’t concluded yet exactly how many other roles will be impacted (we know that there will be reductions in our Stores and PXT organisations), but each leader will communicate to their respective teams when we have the details nailed down,” Jassy noted.

Meanwhile, the Computerworld report noted that employees on Amazon’s robotics team have been laid off.

Amazon’s muted third-quarter earnings as well as disappointing fourth-quarter projections led the company’s stock to plummet. Its third-quarter earnings were severely impacted by unpredictable consumer shopping habits and inflation. 

Amazon is likely to lay off several employees in India across divisions, according to media reports. Last month, Amazon confirmed that it will shut down its wholesale unit Amazon Distribution. This is the third business unit to be closed after the e-commerce giant announced the wrapping up of Amazon Academy and the food delivery business in India.

Globally, tech companies have announced layoffs as part of their cost-cutting efforts. In November, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company had decided to reduce the size of its team by about 13%, cutting over 11,000 jobs. In the same month, Elon Musk reduced half of Twitter’s workforce or about 3,700 jobs at the social media firm.

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Unlock The Entrepreneurial Potential Of Your Team With Employee-Ownership

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A strong team of many outperforms even the most hardworking of entrepreneurs on their own. But when hiring employees, freelancers and contractors, how do you ensure they have the same entrepreneurial skills and drive that you do as your company’s owner? Is it unrealistic to expect employees to be motivated and committed to an organisation they didn’t found?

Nicki Sprinz thinks she has cracked the code of unlocking the entrepreneurial potential of your team, and the answer lies in employee ownership. Sprinz is managing director of B-Corp certified ustwo London, a company of over 200 employees, and cofounder of Ada’s List, an 8000-strong community designed to support women working in the tech industry. ustwo has recently become employee-owned and has already seen the benefits of breaking down the distinction between owners and employees.

According to the Employee Ownership Association, this way of working can improve productivity, support more resilient regional economies and empower team members, resulting in them being far more engaged. Sprinz explained the main benefit for entrepreneurs of this model along with practical tips for managing directors and company founders to make the transition to becoming employee-owned.

Employee ownership protects the company

“Being employee-owned means existing team members, who are now partners, feel empowered as owners,” said Sprinz. She believes that this encourages everyone to put in the work to uphold a strong company culture and course-correct if they see anything awry.

Whilst this might not happen automatically, a founder can make it more likely that their team upholds the vision. Sprinz has put frameworks in place to ensure everyone has a voice. “We hold open firesides, have elected partner representatives on the board, and ensure there are regular channels of communication for all team members to be part of growing the culture and living the values,” she said.

Keeping the team on board means protecting the company. “There are no surprises about the direction we are taking with the business,” explained Sprinz. “We involve everyone in the decisions we make on our projects and ensure we are accountable, both commercially and ethically.”

Attract and retain top talent

In a competitive market, how does your company attract and retain the best talent in the world for the benefit of your clients? Employee-ownership could be the solution. Not only does it make job listings stand out, but it attracts individuals who are like-minded and think long term. They are committed to a future with whichever company they choose to join and are prepared to push themselves to make it happen.

“High quality potential recruits and employees are interested in values and purpose,” said Sprinz. “Being able to talk about employee ownership helps you stand out in a tough hiring market. We have several interview stages so a candidate can get to know us as well as we’d like to know them.”

Sprinz’ interview stages aim to weed out “cultural and value mismatches that ultimately lead to an unfulfilled team.” They ask candidates multiple questions about their values and examples of them in practice, and they encourage candidates to probe with questions about ustwo. They also “publicise the salary for all open roles and candidates have the opportunity to meet other members of the team,” she added.

Control quality

When scaling a business, ambitious entrepreneurs cannot afford to let quality slip. Growth at all costs is a false economy that ends with the business back at square one and having to work harder to undo reputational damage. “A more entrepreneurial team ensures quality stays high,” explained Sprinz. Not only do your team members care deeply about the work they do, they also know they benefit from company growth, so they are incentivised to keep raising the bar.

“If your team is invested in the long term financial success of the company, they also feel pride that their work contributes to overall success,” said Sprinz. “They respond by raising the bar on their work.” Sprinz also believes that, “Regular transparent sharing of financial results and metrics maintains dialogue on personal and company impact.”

Direct the future

An employee-owned company has options for the future. The owner might one day want to step aside or sell, and the company’s succession plan will already be in place. In the meantime, the company has hit new heights and progressed with new ideas because its foundations are solid.

Like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you cannot reach self-actualisation without warmth and shelter, and a company cannot break through ceilings with constant recruitment issues. When team members are bought into the company, they are bought into its future too, making more certain outcomes for everyone involved.

“The partner representatives on the board surface the priorities of the rest of the team and ensure the conversations of the board are directed accordingly,” explained Sprinz. “The representatives are actively part of the bigger picture and playing a huge part in shaping the company’s future.”

Unlock the entrepreneurial potential of your team by exploring employee ownership, advised Sprinz. The best people will be proud to tell their friends that they are part-owners of the place they work. They will feel valued and listened to and respond with their effort and devotion. Could employee ownership be the right step forward for you?

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With $3M new funding, Egyptian startup OneOrder sets out on growth drive • TechCrunch

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OneOrder, Egypt’s supply chain solutions provider for restaurants, has raised $3 million seed funding led by Nclude with participation from A15, and Delivery Hero Ventures. The latest funding brings the total funding raised by the startup to $10.5
million, including $6.5 million working capital financing from financial institutions.

Launched in March this year, OneOrder makes it possible for restaurants to order food supplies through its online platform, solving the fragmented supply chain challenges that lead to erratic prices, waste, quality issues, and storage cost.

By using its platform, restaurants no longer have to deal with tens of suppliers, and can order only what they need, for next day delivery, stemming wastage and doing away with the need for warehouses. The platform also ensures operational efficiency and helps restaurants save money by leveraging OneOrder’s economies of scale.

The startup plans to use the funding to scale its operations in Egypt including increasing its warehouse footprint, and to explore growth opportunities within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, and Africa.

“We are exploring Saudi Arabia and expanding south into our continent. I think Africa has a lot of markets that feel the same pain points that Egypt does,” said OneOrder co-founder and CEO, Tamer Amer, who co-founded OneOrder with Karim Maurice (CTO), also founder Cube, an online restaurant-reservation service.

“The solution that we’re providing has shown that this industry is ready for tech solutions…[and] we are working on a more substantial operating system for the restaurants not just the supply chain and inventory management system, rather the full cycle that would turn their operations automatic by using AI and machine learning capabilities to drive the supply chain,” said Amer, a restaurateur for over two decades, initially in the U.S before settling in Egypt from 2008.

Amer, told TechCrunch that the sourcing challenges he experienced operating two restaurants in Egypt — Fuego, a sushi bar, and Longhord Texas Barbeque — inspired the launch of OneOrder, to serve the country’s total addressable market of 400,000 restaurants.

“I had always taken the supply chain in the U.S for-granted; we would order and get the supplies all the time. We didn’t have to worry about shortages or price changes. I realized that Egypt is so underserved and the industry is really doing a lot of things that we shouldn’t be doing,” he said.

“… restaurants should not have a full-time job monitoring the supply chain and procuring products because it takes away focus on the core business, which is serving customers. So that’s where the idea really started,” he said.

OneOrder plans to, through its partners and backed by its extensive data, begin extending working capital financing options to restaurants as a way of helping them scale their operations.

Basil Moftah, the managing partner at Nclude, said: “The product-market fit of the OneOrder solution is very impressive, along with the positive impact it is delivering to all stakeholders in the value chain. Through the use of technology and alternative data, OneOrder’s embedded financing will help underserved clients who are unable to secure traditional financing. This aligns perfectly with our investing philosophy and we are glad to be embarking on this journey with the team.”

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