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July 27—The metaverse was once a sci-fi dream of an interactive, immersive virtual future world accessed through virtual reality headsets. But the future may be here, as indicated by social media behemoth Facebook, Inc.’s name change to Meta. Where does reality intersect with virtual and fantasy possibilities? Will we feel the thrill of concert-going from our living rooms and avatar-led experiences—or will the need for human interaction win out? To explore how the metaverse may reshape our lives, Tony spoke with Yahoo Finance’s Editor-in-Chief, Andy Serwer.

Please listen to important disclosures at the end of the podcast.

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The opinions of Andy Serwer are his own and do not necessarily represent those of Wilmington Trust, M&T Bank or any of its affiliates. M&T Bank and Wilmington Trust are not affiliated with Yahoo Finance. Third-party trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.

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The Metaverse: A reality or cyber-fantasy?

Tony Roth, Chief Investment Officer, Wilmington Trust Investment Advisors

Andy Server, Editor-in-Chief, Yahoo Finance

TONY ROTH:  Welcome to Capital Considerations.  This is Tony Roth, the Chief Investment Officer of Wilmington Trust.  We are at Episode 58, which seems remarkable that we’ve gotten that far along into our journey and we have arrived at a fascinating podcast, which I think you’re going to want to really listen to this episode, particularly if you’re in anything other than Generation Z, because this is really for the newbies among us to really understand and for the rest of us to grasp the threads and try to figure it out.

And that’s the metaverse.  We’ve got a great guest today and we’re going to really delve in and try to understand what the metaverse is and what consequences it may have, depending on where it goes, for the economy and markets and other things.  So, a really cool topic and we’re really lucky to be joined by Andy Serwer. 

Andy is the Editor in Chief of Yahoo Finance, where he oversees all editorial content from breaking news to original video programming.  He was previously the Managing Editor of Fortune and spent nearly three decades at Time Magazine.  Andy is a regular guest on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and CNBC’s Squawk Box, is also the host of a weekly podcast called Influencers with Andy Serwer. 

Andy’s podcast focuses on industry trends, macroeconomy and all kinds of things that are viewed through a business lens.  Andy specifically has been following developments in emerging technology and he’s had a personal interest in metaverse for years and he knows lots of people in the tech community, executives and others, that are really plugged in to sort of the future state of online communities. 

We always say on this podcast that we don’t make, we’re not making any recommendations to buy or sell any stocks.  And I’m going to take the liberty to say that you’re not making any recommendations here to buy or sell any stocks. 

So, I wanted to start, Andy, with the whole idea of the metaverse.  You know, I think of the metaverse as basically the internet with googles.  And I don’t know if that’s sort of what it is but, the implication is you sort of interact with people not just by typing, but by seeing avatars, seeing sort of, if you will, digital environments that you can sort of move within and it almost sounds like a video game.  So, let’s start with that, Andy.  What is the metaverse? 

ANDY SERWER:  Well, first of all, Tony, thank you so much for having me on.  Really appreciate it.  Delighted to be number 58. 

TONY ROTH:  A special number.

ANDY SERWER:  And hope to do it honors, yeah.  So, you’re not wrong when it comes to the metaverse and that’s a good starting point, it’s the internet with goggles.  So, there’s a couple ways to look at it.  First of all, really the metaverse is kind of the next mega phase of the internet.  It’s a merging of the physical world with VR, virtual reality, AR, alternative reality, and XR, which is kind of all kinds of different realities that’s kind of a catch-all R, XR.  And it’s just beginning to revolutionize the way we interact, work, and live, and do commerce.

It really is kind of an extensive online world that transcends individual tech platforms where people exist in immersive shared virtual spaces.  And, for instance, through avatars people will be able to try items on available in stores or attend concerts with friends just as they would offline.  And the metaverse is going to require a lot more computing power and tools and code not created yet, but that’s all happening.

So, there’s that and then one other thing, and we can go into this in more detail, but it’s also sort of this internet 3.0.  So, internet 1.0 was Microsoft and Intel and Cisco and Oracle and those four horses of the internet we’re old enough to remember in 1999.  And then web 2.0 is, you know, the internet with Facebook and Google and Amazon.  This is now web 3.0, which is sort of bringing it to a whole other level.

TONY ROTH:  So, it sounds like a big deal when you frame it that way.  And whether it’s because people are over-reaching or probably more likely I’m just a dinosaur and I can’t really, you know, appreciate the reality of what’s happening.  It’s that sounds to me like – I’m skeptical.  And so, let’s pick an example. 

So, attending a concert with your friends in the metaverse, what does that mean?  Does that mean everybody’s at home, and they’ve got goggles on, and they’re sort of in this fake concert or maybe even a real concert but they’re not there?  Or does it mean that they’re all there but they’re interacting and experiencing it in a different way?  Or all the above?  let’s get into some examples because none of that sounds appealing to me. 

ANDY SERWER:  Right.  Well, the answer is all the above, number one, and I’ll get back to that in a second.  As far as your skepticism goes, 1,000%.  I mean you should be just incredibly skeptical.  This is also very, you know, the real change your life stuff is probably pretty far away. 

I mean it’s always this way though, Tony, right?  Like, oh, a self-driving car; it’s going to happen next month.  No.  Not going to happen next.  Maybe it’ll never happen.  I don’t know.  Electric cars happening right now.  Happening.  Twenty-five percent of Americans say they would strongly consider getting an EV right now.

And change always happens really, really slowly and then it happens really fast.  And a lot of this stuff is not going to pan out and it’s kind of not appealing, right?  But there are a lot of use cases and situations which would be appealing. 

But so, let’s get back to this concert situation.  A metaverse concert experience is never going to replace a real concert experience.  That’s your starting point, right?  Like it’s not going to like, oh, there’ll never be any concerts anymore, you know? 

But there are a lot of instances where you can’t go or that it’s just not an option to go.  And in that case, I mean we’re already seeing, you know, concerts of course that you can watch live, right, on the internet or concerts you can watch on TV or concerts that are live in movie theaters.  Opera’s done that way now. 

But what if you could actually be there in sort of an immersive 3-D way where you could feel the music pulsing your body or sitting next to your friends in a row of seats and you’re high-fiving each other, because you know, like that’s the thing.  That’s why movie theaters will never die, because it’s the shared experience of seeing a movie with other people.

And it also is possible that people will have concerts and they won’t tour.  I mean Ariana Grande is doing, has done a concert in the metaverse with her avatar and people liked it.  It’s just something different.  Again, it’s not going to replace a real concert by her.  But it’s an extension and if she can do a real concert say in Madison Square Garden in New York and get, you know, what is it, 20,000 people in there.  But then there is a whole bunch of other people who can’t go from Saskatchewan, why shouldn’t they be able to go, maybe not pay the same ticket price but pay some price to attend?

TONY ROTH:  So, there’s a lot to unpack there.  So, let me say that in my own defense that I own two EVs and, you know, I went to law school I would spend a lot of time in the basement on a computer on this thing called the World Wide Web, which at that point was basically a news feed and a very rudimentary messaging environment.  They didn’t – there was no email, right?  It was very rudimentary.  It almost looked like dot matrix on the screen.

So, I’m an early adopter.  So, I feel like I’m usually open to these things.  But on this one, I just feel like it’s inherently unappealing to try to replace real life with, you know, some type of ersatz experience. 

And but I will tell you that I have two daughters who are teenagers and I spend a lot of time talking to parents about young people, young adults, and I hear a lot of, you know, a lot of kids are more comfortable interacting with their peers, you know, in a digital environment than in person.  Or they sort of, you know, they even sort of date over line, you know, online for a long period of time and then there’s a lot of hesitancy to even get together in person. 

So, even if it’s not a good thing, I could see how this could be a big deal.  Let me ask you, you know, as a real specialist in this space, what are the kinds of things that you personally would want to use it for? 

ANDY SERWER:  Right.

TONY ROTH:  What, you know, what’s appealing to you?  What would you do with?  Is it only to do things that you couldn’t get to? 

ANDY SERWER:  Well, first of all, Tony, I have to say I’m kind of more in your camp than your kids’ camp, which is to say a lot of this is not so appealing to me and I think a lot of the behavior that younger people are exhibiting is, frankly, kind of alien to me and frankly, you know, it concerns me a little bit in terms of how much time young people spend, you know, online.  I hate to sound like one of these kids today people.  Maybe that’s inevitable for an older person. 

So, I’m a little wary also of my wariness, right?  In other words, like it’s always a thing where older people are like the behavior of younger people is like wrong.  And whether like the Beatles or it’s unbelievable these people with these haircuts.  You know, you don’t want to be one of those people.  On the other hand, you know, if people are sitting in a dark room and staring at a screen all day and communicating with strange people and they don’t know who they are, I think it’s very legitimate to call that into question.

Now having said that, you know, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.  That doesn’t mean it’s all bad.  That means it bears watching.  It bears really understanding, because it is really, really different.  And I’ll get to your specific point about, question about what I like to do or would like to do, because it’s more like would like to do than am doing right now.

But, you know, getting back to young people and behavior, there are a lot of platforms which are sort of already moving towards the metaverse that are kind of metaverse-like.  Specifically the digital game platform Roblox.  You know, Second Life, which has actually been around for a while, is another platform which is a virtual world.  And then, of course, maybe the granddaddy of them all, which is Fortnite, which is a game.  But it’s not just a game or games.  It’s a virtual world and, you know, that’s actually where Ariana Grande’s concert was.  But there’s commerce there and there’s a tremendous amount of interaction between avatars.

And actually, let me just backup, you know, for one second here, because I know this is hard to wrap your brain around.  And I will tell you, the single best way for you to wrap your brain around the metaverse, and it’s a very easy and extremely palatable and fun way to do it, is to watch the movie Ready Player One, okay, which is a movie that actually Steven Spielberg made in 2018.  And, you know, a little bit ahead of its time. It’s a movie about young people in the metaverse and, you know, it’s boy meets girl.  It’s sort of the Steven Spielberg tropes and all that.  But it really shows people getting into the metaverse and what happens and what could happen.

So, I highly recommend watching that movie if you’re curious about this subject at all because it can really explain it. There’s one, the original novel about this called Snow Crash from 1992 by Neal Stephenson where he coined the phrase metaverse is another thing if you’re a little more serious and some other stuff I’ll get to in a second.

So, as far as what I’d like to do, you know, would I like to experiment with a concert?  Sure.  Would I like to experiment with shopping, Tony?  Yes, I would. 

TONY ROTH:  How is the metaverse going to help you, you know, versus seeing a photo on the internet?  I mean are you going to be, are you going to have like sensors on your fingers where you’re going to be able to sort of fake touch it?  And, you know, in my case could I put it around and see if I gained too much weight in the last month and truly want to see if it actually fits me, you know, the belts or?

ANDY SERWER:  It’s getting there.  They – there are sensors.  There are, you know, hand sensors and body sensors to feel that stuff.  And, believe me, you know, that stuff is only going to increase going forward. 

But the other thing to think about too, Tony, is that, you know, your avatar will try it on.  You’ll be doing it with your friends.  So, like you and me could go shopping at J.Crew together in the metaverse and try on whale belts together.

Now, you might say that is like the last thing in the world I would ever want to do, particularly with Andy Serwer.  There are other people who think that stuff is kind of cool.  Again, think about kids, right?  It’s kind of a fun thing to do and it’s like what a waste of time.  Well, is that really any more of a waste of time than Tony and Andy watching the Celtics game?

Like what’s more of a waste of time?  It’s your leisure time.  Now, I’m also blending in commerce and fun.  And, believe me, the people in the business of commerce love that fun is getting blended with commerce.

The other thing is if you’re in a game like Fortnite and you start to win stuff you get tokens and the tokens could get you discounts for the whale belt, okay?  And so, you know, again, a lot of this is theoretical.  But, believe me, you know, there are big companies right now that are mapping this stuff out.  And it is a little bit around the corner and over the curve, but it is definitely on product roadmaps for companies and, you know, skunkworks, etcetera.

TONY ROTH:  So, when you talk about skunkworks, right, and the timing on all this, you know, take for example the idea of full self-driving or level 4 autonomy, you know, which basically means you can take a nap and the car drives itself, you don’t even need the steering wheel really.  It’s actually pretty hysterical.  You can go back and go on to YouTube, right, and you can watch videos of Elon Musk for the last five years in a row or six years in a row saying this is the year that they’re going to achieve level 4 full autonomy, full stop, no questions asked, there’s just no chance they won’t do it, right?  And he says it every year, says it multiple times a year. 

And I follow this space pretty carefully and they’re years away, okay?  They are years away from level 4 autonomy.  There’s no one that’s remotely close. 

And so, for them to rename Facebook Meta, it means that they obviously believe in this.  But at the same token, what do you think the chance or the risk is that before the metaverse actually achieves, outside of the extreme gamers, extreme concertgoers, sort of the extreme socially, different kind of people than what we grew up with or the people that just love to live digitally and don’t want to have social interactions, which I hope is going to continue to be a smaller minority, what do you think the chances are that this is going to happen but it’s going to happen a long time from now?  It’s just much earlier than people possibly realize. 

And I’ve never even had one of these headsets on.  And any new technology, you know when the first EV came out and then it took 10 or 15 years to get to the point where Tesla could actually commercialize it and scale. 

ANDY SERWER:  Yeah.  I mean I think it’s an excellent point.  And I – it’s very hard to predict, you know, when this stuff, even if.  Let’s just say, yes, it is going to happen or some of it’s going to happen, when it will happen. 

But it’s also so sort of broad that it’s hard to pin down, okay?  So, you know, like I was saying, on Fortnite it’s already happening.  You know, Oculus is out there.  Yes, Facebook changed its name to Meta.  And, by the way, you’re not alone in your skepticism.  I mean, you know, like I was talking to Roger McNamee recently, the famed Silicon Valley investor and who, of course, was a big investor in Facebook but then became disillusioned with the direction the company was taking and wrote that book Zucked about how he thought Facebook has lost its way.  And he thinks Facebook changing their name to Meta is a joke, a distraction.  He thinks the metaverse is, you know, a big nothing.

Matthew Ball, who is a venture capitalist who wrote this really excellent work about the metaverse, is sort of on the other side and says that he thinks it’s very legit.

I think that, you know, one way to focus this question, Tony, which may be of interest to your listeners is really asking about it from an investing standpoint.  I believe there is already kind of a metaverse ETF out there and, you know, well, what’s in it?  Are there a lot of investment plays?  And the answer is not really.  You know, like people point to Nvidia.  Oh, Nvidia is a metaverse play or Facebook’s a metaverse play.  Well, maybe and maybe down the road.  But right now, they’re not making any revenue from the metaverse. 

I mean there’s some other companies, private companies like Valve, Ubiquity6, Singularity6, Genvid, and we talked about Magic Leap that people say are plays on the metaverse.  But, you know, they’re private and they’re very speculative.  I mean that doesn’t even begin to describe them.

Epic Games, which owns Fortnite, I would say is the purest play in terms of the metaverse and they really kind of do have the metaverse, you know, operable at this point if you think about Fortnite.  But Epic is a private company has a valuation of like $29 billion.  But its its owner Tim Sweeney, who’s the guy who’s been warring against Apple, by the way, and he’s the guy who’s been going up against Apple and its app store.  You know, if he ever takes that baby public, that’ll be huge.

Although, some people have said Fortnite has peaked.  But, you know, again, it’s very, very speculative.  And I just, I can’t say that, you know, well, in 2025 this thing is going to be a homerun.  I – there’s no way.

Let me just do one more quick thing though, because there are also the B2B applications as well.  Like, you know, if you’re able to like remotely adjust like controls in an oil rig in a remote area, is it helpful to do this with XR, VR, and AR?  It might be.  And there are companies that are working on that.  Magic Leap, for instance, has become much more of a B2B company than a B2C company.

TONY ROTH:  If this thing actually works and is a, is an experience that people want to have, there’s tons of ways to make money.  There’s a hardware play because you need to wear, you know, goggles and maybe over time even other sensors will come into play.  You know, you’ll put little sensors on your fingers.  I don’t know what, you know.  The goggles will emit gasses, so you have smells, right?

There’ll be a lot of ways to monetize this if it works.  But from a, from an investing standpoint, if you think about Facebook, I mean, yeah, they have no revenue of course from it right now.  But given they have changed their name to Metaverse [sic] from an R&D standpoint, you got to believe that they’re all-in on developing this. 

And so, understanding where the space is likely to lead and who the players are going to be if it does have success and at what scale I think is important, because if you have, you know, more of a skepticism as I do then the notion of investing in Facebook may be less appealing given that they’ve declared that’s their future, that’s where their R&D is. Whereas, Apple has a million things they’re working on.  Yeah, they’ve got Apple Goggles coming out, they don’t use the term metaverse probably, but they use the term AR/VR and essentially, it’s the same thing it would seem.  So, you want to probably at this stage not invest in companies that are exclusive to that space whether it’s today or in the future?

ANDY SERWER:  And it’s interesting that you’re focusing on Facebook because, you know, the problem/opportunity for them.  And obviously, you know, they, they’ve got some issues in terms of content moderation.  They’ve got some issues in terms of competition from TikTok that’s become kind of an Instagram killer that was supposed to be their big engine in growth.  But and so maybe it’s not surprising that they’re looking to the metaverse for growth in a way that the other big tech companies, Apple, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are not.

But really if you think about it, Facebook among those big five tech companies is the only one that doesn’t really have an operating system and it’s the only one that doesn’t have a key consumer hardware device.  And the metaverse allows them potentially to displace those who do and maybe it can go even further I mean because they don’t have a hardware and software problem.

I mean business models and products Facebook wants for consumers are blocked by Apple right now.  So, they have to, you know, if they want to launch a cloud gaming experience, they can’t.  Apple gets 30%.  So, the opportunity for economic expansion and gain share relative to the other big tech companies and to escape the confines of a platform ecosystem is very important for them.

TONY ROTH:  And you mentioned Nvidia earlier, they’re a Dutch company known to develop very specialized chips for different things.  And just a great track record, just one of the best managed companies, in my opinion, in the chip sector along with Taiwan Semiconductor.  And but I don’t think that they’re at a stage now just by what people are saying or any of these companies where they have untoward exposure to the metaverse space in terms of where they’re putting their R&D or anything of that nature.

ANDY SERWER:  Yeah.  I mean it’s interesting.  So, just to drill down on Nvidia, I agree. They’ve been incredibly successful, and they’ve ridden at least two waves, Tony, that you certainly know about.  One is gaming and the super high-end chips for gaming and the other is crypto, which we should get back to crypto because that’s an important like parallel universe here when it comes to the metaverse.  So, we can talk about that in a second.

But, you know, with Nvidia, you know, their CEO, Jensen Huang, was talking, you know, last year saying about the metaverse I believe we’re right on the cusp of it.  They’ve created something called the omniverse, which is a virtual environment the company describes as a metaverse for engineers. Huang has also said the economy of the metaverse will be larger than that of the physical world. 

Now maybe it’s just sort of table stakes.  I mean Satya Nadella also from Microsoft, yeah, we’re there.  I mean, you know, you don’t want to be one of these CEO who goes, well, we don’t believe in it at all.  It’s, you know, we’re totally not going to do it.  I mean, you know, because you sound like a stick in the mud.  You might be proven incredibly wrong in ten years. By saying, yeah, we kind of believe in it, that’s important.

Now how much money is Nvidia actually spending on R&D and on these skunkworks, we’ve talked about before, Tony, that points specifically to the metaverse is unclear.  It’s probably the case that, you know, most sophisticated chips that they’re using are being used, you know, by gamers, you know, by the Fortnite audience.  So, sure, you know, yeah, they’re making, you know, chips for the most high-powered PCs on the planet and those are being used to enable and engender the metaverse.  So, sure, they are.

But it’s not like, you know, they’re specifically doing that.  Although, you know, we don’t know that.  We don’t know like, oh, is it the case that Fortnite is having discussions with Nvidia right now and like we need this type of chip architecture to enable what we want to do with the metaverse in 2025?  It could well be the case.

TONY ROTH:  Well, look, I mean there’s certainly lots of really smart people that you’ve mentioned that seem to be really engaged around the idea of the metaverse.  It also seems like a lot of the applications are for extension of gaming and it’s not an immaterial part of the economy, but it’s not a big percentage of the economy.

So, we’ll have to see where it goes I suppose and how it develops.  But I guess the one thing I could say, if there’s one takeaway from this conversation that I would really emphasize is that the metaverse, you know, the potential and the ultimate impact of it could be huge or it could be not so huge.  But it’s not something that we’re going to know for some period of time.  It’s not imminent.  It’s we’re at the very early innings.  We’re not even in the top of the first innings in terms of consumer experience yet and it’s going to be a while before we have an answer to that commercial question.

ANDY SERWER:  I think that these investments are either speculative, very, very speculative or cloaked as metaverse investments and they really aren’t.  I mean I would think that that Nvidia thing might be legit in that, you know, as I said it could be a powering, you know, the way that people access the metaverse.  And I think that, you know, it is something that’s, you know, incipient, you know.  But as you say, Tony, may be a decade out.

TONY ROTH:  So, Andy, it’s been a great conversation.  Are there any corners of the conversation at this stage that we’ve missed?

ANDY SERWER:  Just two other points.  I did say I wanted to, you know, mention crypto.  And I mean if you look at crypto as sort of a parallel universe to the world of real money, that – and this is a parallel universe to the internet that’s sort of more virtual, they are married and they dovetail a little bit.  And so, there’s a lot of crypto uses in the metaverse and NFT uses, you know, nonfungible tokens.  And so, there is sort of a nexus of those two worlds.  So, that’s point number one.

And point number two, there’s a ton, and this is going to be a big issue going forward and you could do a whole other podcast on this, of ethical questions when it comes to the metaverse and oversight and moderation, because this is an area where, you know, people are going to rely a lot on machines, a lot on algorithms.  And we’ve just seen time and time again, particularly over the past ten and five years, that these are not infallible systems and they really, really need human beings to operate with software to have the best solutions for human beings.

TONY ROTH:  I hadn’t even considered the ethical aspects of this.  But just at a minimum from a privacy standpoint, any time we interact, you know, in digital environments, anything that we do could be recorded.  You know, our likeness could be appropriated and maybe that’s an opportunity to do a digital token, a – I’m spacing out on a name.  What do they call it again,

ANDY SERWER:  Nonfungible.  Nonfungible tokens, yeah.

TONY ROTH:  NFTs, yeah, NFTs, excuse me, which is another topic that I’m highly skeptical about over the long-term. What do you think, Andy, about the you hear these anecdotes, very early, very early metaverse stuff where someone built a virtual city you know, it’s essentially an intersection between the metaverse and NFTs, nonfungible tokens.  And someone’s paying, you know, a million dollars for a house in the metaverse next to or within the context of some desirable location.  I mean how does that strike you?

ANDY SERWER:  It’s so funny you should mention that.  I was having a conversation not long ago with Barbara Corcoran, you know, from Shark Tank, who of course is, you know, one of New York City’s famous real estate moguls I guess if you will, a very successful person and she knows real estate, right?  And so, I was asking her about this.  I said, you know, like I saw someone bought the house next to Snoop Dog’s house in the metaverse. 

TONY ROTH:  Right.  That’s what I had heard.

ANDY SERWER:  For that million dollars, Tony.  That’s what you were –

TONY ROTH:  They paid like a million dollars for it, right, paid some –

ANDY SERWER:  And I was like come on.  Is that?

TONY ROTH:  They paid some stupid amount.

ANDY SERWER:  Right.  Is that really?  And she goes, well, you know, it’s like it’s a digital neighborhood, you know, and it’s legit and it’s for real.  And I was like, come on.  And so, she said, listen, Andy, I just bought a zoo.  I just bought a virtual zoo.  I’ve always wanted a zoo and I bought the Central Park Zoo, a virtual.  They put it up for sale.  Bought it for a auction. 

And I was like so, wait a second.  So, we could set up a fake Hamptons and buy, I could buy like a house next to Steve Schwarzman’s house.  And she goes yeah.  Or so you could set up a house and buy Steve Schwarzman’s house. 

I mean it’s all kind of, it’s kind of unfathomable.  And I think there is like king has no clothes issues here, greater fool issue here for sure.  I mean it’s stupid money if you do this.  On the other hand, you know, some crazy thing’s probably going to work out.

I mean I was talking to this artist, Beeple, who sold his NFT for $60 million, a piece of digital art and this transaction was in Ethereum, you know, it was in crypto.  And I said, wow, $60 million of Ethereum, what did you do with it?  And he goes, dude, I converted it to US dollars as fast as I could. 

TONY ROTH:  Right, exactly.

ANDY SERWER:  And I said that was smart.  And actually, while he was doing it, the price of the exchange went up and he was $6 million to the good because the trade took too long.

TONY ROTH:  Yeah.  So, I guess that example where someone had paid a million dollars for a, an NFT, which represented a house next to Snoop Dog, effectively what they’re buying is they’re buying access into a private chat environment or more broadly a private living environment, some kind of call it private environment.  They’re buying access to that.  That’s what they’re getting.

ANDY SERWER:  Right.  I mean and if it’s really the case that like you could interact with Snoop virtually, your avatar and his avatar could interact and you’d be like, dude, come on over and have like a beer.  Let’s have a barbecue in the backyard.  Come on over.  I’ve got some friends.  And you’re doing this whole thing virtually.  I think it would be pretty funny.

You know, like, okay, I’m actually not going to go out to LA to actually have a real barbecue with Snoop because he’s not going to do it, I can’t fly to LA, it costs too much money, he doesn’t know who I am, but he knows that I bought this house next to him.  And like you’re having a virtual barbecue with your neighbor Snoop and then you invite your friend, Tony.  It’s like, Tony, do you want to meet Snoop in the metaverse?  It’s kind of weird but it’s kind of funny. 

TONY ROTH:  Yeah.  But it’s kind of flawed because it’s only valuable if Snoop actually shows up in whatever form that means.

ANDY SERWER:  True, 1,000%. 

TONY ROTH:  Right.  Even Snoop can –

ANDY SERWER:  And you know he probably will the first week, but he won’t after that.

TONY ROTH:  Right.  Because Snoop can create 1,000 of these houses and ultimately if he likes the experience of interacting in the metaverse he’ll end up getting involved with a, you know, in a corner of the metaverse the people that he wants to get involved with he doesn’t need to waste his time with people that are going to pay for access, right?  That doesn’t …

ANDY SERWER:  Supposedly the answer to that, Tony, is and I’m not buying necessarily is that that’s a trust thing and if Snoop does and he’s really supposed to show up.  And then, but if he doesn’t do it, no one will trust him or believe him again.  So, the next time he tries it, no one will pay any money for it.  I, I’m just saying that’s the argument. 

TONY ROTH:  But unless Snoop’s economic model in life is to try to monetize himself through the metaverse, which he doesn’t need to do, would be a, you know, a drain and drag on his, you know, living conditions.  You know, you should not trust it, because it doesn’t make sense from his perspective.

ANDY SERWER:  I’m not going to argue with you.

TONY ROTH:  I think it’s a really fascinating conversation, Andy.  I think the takeaway is that while some of these really smart and well-respected people are saying that this is going to be the internet 3.0, including yourself, it’s going to be a ways down the road.  We don’t know what it’s going to be.  We don’t really know if it’s going to be significant or how significant it’s going to be.

I personally believe that it’s going to be less significant than the internet 2.0 was or internet 1.0.  But I do think it’ll be significant.  I just think it’ll be constrained for many years to limit it to gamers and very specialized areas of life.  And, you know, eventually in 50 years who knows what’s going to happen. 

But for now, for the next decade, I don’t think it’s going to really disrupt most of our lives too much.  But there will be ways, we’ll probably all find ways to participate.  You know, education actually is an area that really strikes me.  You can go to a class virtually and interact with a professor and feel like you’re learning.  I think that’s a really cool potential application.  The takeaway is keep an eye out, but I wouldn’t rush to invest or even be worried that you’re missing out at the moment as it relates to the metaverse.

ANDY SERWER: Thank you, Tony.  Thanks for having me.  I really enjoyed the discussion.  That was great.

TONY ROTH:  Yeah, me too.  And I want to remind all of our listeners wilmingtontrust.com is where you go to get a full roundup of all of our thought leadership in the investment space, the planning space, and otherwise.  So, I hope everyone’s having a great summer.  Hope this has been interesting and let’s stand by for Episode 59.  Thanks so much, everyone.

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This podcast is for information purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the sale of any financial product or service or recommendation or determination that any investment strategy is suitable for a specific investor.

Investors should seek financial advice regarding the suitability of any investment strategy based on the investor’s objectives, financial situation, and particular needs. The information on Wilmington Trust’s Capital Considerations with Tony Roth has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy and completeness are not guaranteed. The opinions, estimates, and projections constitute the judgment of Wilmington Trust as of the date of this podcast and are subject to change without notice.

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Andy Serwer
Editor-in-Chief, Yahoo Finance and host of Influencers with Andy Serwer

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