New data shows which CEOs are hyping the metaverse and who isn’t sold yet, as interest surges

By November 23, 2021Metaverse
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Mark Zuckerberg showing his 'metaverse' avatar during Connect 2021
Mark Zuckerberg showing his 'metaverse' avatar during Connect 2021.

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  • Interest in joining the metaverse spiked among CEOs, investors, and analysts in November.
  • 58% of the 158 "metaverse" mentions in public-company transcripts from 2021 occurred this month.
  • Here's how different companies are approaching the metaverse, based on transcript data from Sentieo.

The metaverse has people talking, with Wall Street consumed by the idea of virtual worlds, augmented reality, and any other businesses that fall within the loosely defined metaverse umbrella.

Dozens of executives at companies old and new discussed the metaverse during investor days, earnings calls, and CEO interviews in November, according to an Insider review of 2021 corporate transcripts powered by the financial research firm Sentieo Inc.

What the metaverse is depends on which company you ask. Some describe a virtual world where avatars roam free and purchasing non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and other digital gear. Others see a future where digital content is superimposed onto the real world through augmented reality goggles. Unsurprisingly, each company's vision of the metaverse tends to serve their own particular business interests.

Some, like the 108-year-old fashion brand Prada, said it would enter the metaverse down the road once the category had matured. Others, such as the gaming platform Roblox, view the metaverse as a core part of its business today.

Virtual worlds have become a particular focus for investors in the wake of Facebook's announcement that it would change its name to "Meta" and spend at least $10 billion to become a metaverse company. The term "metaverse" appeared at least once in 158 company transcripts throughout 2021. 93 of those mentions came after October 28th, when Facebook announced its rebrand.

Here's a look at how different execs are approaching the metaverse:

Metaverse bulls

  • Gaming platform Roblox discussed its role in building out the metaverse during each of its earnings calls this year. Its CEO David Baszucki described the company as a "metaverse pure-play for the last 15 years" in August, and laid out what he viewed as the fundamental components of the metaverse in November.
  • Roblox's platform also came up regularly in other company transcripts. Warner Music Group highlighted its investment in the platform in February. Live Nation Entertainment's owner Liberty Media touted its move to host the EDC Vegas music festival on the platform. And childrens' media company WildBrain, which produces shows for brands like the Teletubbies and Inspector Gadget, highlighted its advertising partnership with Roblox platform developer GameFam as an example of its work in the metaverse.
  • Chip-maker Qualcomm also positioned itself as a key player in the metaverse. Its CEO said during a November investor day that the company's Snapdragon products are "your ticket to the metaverse."
  • Snapchat's focus is on augmented reality. "We believe the greatest long-term opportunity for our business is compute overlaid on the world around you," Snap's CFO Derek Andersen said on the subject of its AR business during Morgan Stanley's November European Technology, Media & Telecom Conference.
  • Toy company Hasbro said its first foray into the metaverse may come from turning games like Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons into digital marketplaces and video games.
  • Other companies were more focused on building metaverse products for adults. Media and entertainment company Remark Holdings said it plans to launch a "beach lifestyle metaverse" for its web property Bikini.com. And Playboy CEO Ben Kohn said the company is reimagining its Playboy Club to include "virtual and physical experiences and parties like a global midsummer night dream party in the metaverse and also in Las Vegas."

Let's not get ahead of ourselves

  • Some CEOs noted that the idea of the metaverse is still being dreamed up. "If you ask 10 different people what their definition of metaverse is, they'll tell you 10 different answers," Owen Mahoney, CEO of the gaming company Nexon, told investors during the company's Q3 earnings call. "And it seems that the other companies that are talking a lot about the metaverse, many of them, if not almost all of them, are throwing a lot of money and a lot of technology at a not very deeply conceived idea of what it is that they're building."
  • "To realize the vision of the metaverse requires a lot of building blocks," Shi Chang Hsu, vice chairman at the computer company Asus, told investors in November. "In order to fully realize the vision of Ready Player One, the first thing we need is strong computing power and graphics."
  • Prada's marketing director Lorenzo Bertelli said at an investors day that the company would treat the metaverse as a new channel akin to social media once the category had matured, but it wouldn't tackle it right away.
  • "Whilst we'd agree with many observers that such an ambitious virtual environment is many years and a number of technology advances ahead of us, we can see its future importance to our clients, and we'll continue to track its development and experiment with it as it evolves," John E. Cotterell, CEO of the software company Endava, said during a November earnings call.

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