Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt appears to be one of those Americans who roll their eyes — and scratch their heads — when imagining the metaverse.
At the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado this week, Schmidt conveyed indifference and a bit of confusion when asked how the metaverse might affect global relations. “There is no agreement on what the metaverse is, although one company has changed its name pending its definition,” Schmidt said Tuesday, referring to Facebook’s name change to Meta in October 2021.
The tech billionaire, who currently has a net worth of $19.3 billion, according to Forbessaid he’s unsure how the future set of digital worlds — which could theoretically allow people to play, travel, work and shop together virtually — will actually affect everyday people’s lives.
It’s a widely shared perception: nearly two-thirds of respondents say a recent study by Axios said they weren’t sure what the metaverse was, and 58% of respondents said they weren’t scared or excited about the concept.
That doesn’t stop global players like Disney, JP Morgan, Coca-Cola and Gucci from jumping on the metaverse train, with some spending billions of dollars on virtual reality and game concepts. In January, Microsoft announced plan to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, saying that buying it from video game makers like “Call of Duty” and “Warcraft” would “provide building blocks for the metaverse.”
In March, global investment bank Citi estimated the metaverse — whatever form it takes — could be worth between $8 trillion and $13 trillion by 2030. In anticipation, a mix of companies and investors spent over $500 million on metaverse property sales last year, a number that could potentially double this year.
“There are great risks, but potentially great rewards,” said Janine Yorio, CEO of metaverse real estate investor and consulting firm Republic Realm, told CNBC in February.
But Schmidt isn’t sold on the concept of buying up virtual land for some unknown future use — mainly, he said, because he suspects the first iterations of the metaverse will revolve around gaming and digital currencies. The billionaire has not explained exactly what that would look like, but he is… earlier said he’s not sure Meta will be the company to launch it.
On Tuesday, Schmidt suggested that if people, companies or governments ever need to own virtual land, it will be well into the future.
“I’m not worried about buying large swaths of privately owned real estate in the metaverse itself,” he said. “It’s not a concern I have every day.”
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