Yes, you read that right…
In April, a virtual plot of land in the Decentraland world fetched the record price of $572,000.
It’s a virtual world where you can play, explore, and hang out with friends. You can also buy real estate to build virtual stores and businesses.
Decentraland is built on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain.
And everything in it is an NFT (non-fungible token) – a new type of digital asset whose authenticity and ownership status are verified cryptographically.
This allows the makers of Decentraland to limit the supply of virtual land.
And folks in the real world are snapping it up…
In March, 334 buyers sent monthly digital land sales volumes past $4 million.
That’s up from sales of $767,400 in February – a 421% gain.
This may seem crazy at first. But as you’ll see today, the digital real estate boom is part of the next evolution of the internet… what folks in Silicon Valley call the Metaverse.
And as I started showing you last week, this is big news for us as investors.
Investing in Metaverse-related projects today is the closest you’ll get to investing in shares in Amazon.com (AMZN) when it first hit the Nasdaq in 1997.
Since then, Amazon shares are up 234,933%. That’s enough to turn $10,000 into $23.5 million.
And that may not even capture the scale of the opportunity ahead for pioneering investors.
Take it from the head of chipmaker Nvidia (NVDA), Jensen Huang. He predicts the economy in the Metaverse will end up larger than the economy in the physical world.
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And right now, I can’t think of a bigger idea for your radar than the Metaverse.
You don’t read it, like a web page… or watch it, like YouTube.
You step into it…
You become an avatar – a 3D graphical representation of yourself – and interact with others in a virtual world.
Decentraland avatars. Source: Decentraland
If you’ve ever played a video game with a virtual reality (VR) headset, you’ll have an idea what it’s like.
You’re not just watching the game. You’re inside of it. You can look and move around in any direction as you could in real life.
Now, imagine that same immersive experience… but instead of shooting bad guys in a game, you’re in a virtual shopping mall.
You can walk around as your avatar and check out stores.
If you’ve chosen a realistic avatar – one that matches your dimensions perfectly at a smaller scale – you can try on digital versions of clothes in stock at the real-world store.
Or imagine meeting with your work colleagues.
Instead of talking to them through a videoconferencing app such as Zoom (ZM), you all put on VR headsets and gather, via your avatars, around a table in a virtual meeting room.
You could even use the Metaverse to check out a performance by your favorite real-world musician.
Without getting off your couch, you pop on a VR headset… meet some friends in a virtual world… and head together to a concert in a virtual stadium.
Or maybe you just want to hang out with friends and family members who are too far away to see in real life. You could meet them in a virtual park for a walk… go to a virtual bar together… or catch a movie in a virtual theater with them.
The word “Metaverse” comes from a 1992 sci-fi novel called Snow Crash by bestselling author Neal Stephenson.
The book is a longtime favorite of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Palantir’s Peter Thiel, and other Big Tech CEOs.
Snow Crash explored a suite of technologies that were sci-fi in the early 1990s but are now commonplace – smartphones and wireless internet, VR and augmented-reality headsets, and even digital-only currencies.
Now, the technologies necessary to create a Metaverse online are here. And there’s a scramble to be among the first to stake a claim in this new world.
He’s an Indian crypto entrepreneur who discovered bitcoin (BTC) in 2012.
He’s since made a fortune investing in crypto and working as an entrepreneur and developer in blockchain-based businesses.
Sundaresan is now the world’s biggest NFT investor. In April, his Metapurse collection of NFTs was valued at $189 million.
And he’s the guy who bought the world’s most expensive NFT – a digital artwork by South Carolina-based artist Beeple – for nearly $69 million.
Everydays: The First 5000 Days by Beeple. Source: Christie’s
Now, Sundaresan plans to put the artwork on display in four blockchain-based virtual worlds.
Reuters reports he’s working with architects to design gallery complexes the public can enter via VR headsets.
Video game pioneer Atari has opened a retro arcade in another virtual world called The Sandbox on digital land it bought there.
Auction house Sotheby’s (BID) – one of the big players in the NFT art market – has bought land in Decentraland. The company has built a digital replica of its London headquarters on New Bond Street.
And Sotheby’s is all-in on the Metaverse experience.
Here’s head of sales Michael Bouhanna speaking to art journal The Art Newspaper about the move…
We see spaces like Decentraland as the next frontier for digital art where artists, collectors and viewers alike can engage with one another from anywhere in the world and showcase art that is fundamentally scarce and unique, but accessible to anyone for viewing.
And I get that. The idea of visiting a virtual art gallery to view an NFT collection there sounds pretty “out-there.”
Your reaction may even be, “These guys must be nuts. Why would anyone want virtual real estate?”
But that’s what a lot of people thought when folks started snapping up World Wide Web domain names in the 1990s.
As the Metaverse gains traction, real estate in these virtual worlds will be the new version of a domain name.
Instead of typing a URL into the search bar of a browser, we’ll step into a virtual world… enter a company’s coordinates there… and get whisked to its virtual store.
So far in this series on the next evolution of the internet, I’ve shown you how NFTs make the internet ownable.
I’ve also shown you how the Metaverse will transform our experiences online.
And today, we looked at the virtual economies taking shape in the Metaverse.
For now, I’ll reiterate the recommendation analyst Grant Wasylik made to our Palm Beach Research Group readers…
If you want exposure to this trend, consider Big Tech players like Amazon, Google (GOOG), Facebook (FB), and [Metaverse gaming platform] Roblox (RBLX). Companies like these will lay the groundwork for the intersection between virtual and real economies.
If you want broader exposure, consider the Roundhill Ball Metaverse ETF (META). It holds 50 globally listed companies – including Roblox, Tencent, and Microsoft (MSFT) – actively involved in the Metaverse.
And stay tuned for tomorrow’s issue. We’ll wrap up the series by looking at what this all means for blockchain and crypto… and whether it makes sense to describe what’s going on as a bubble.
As always, feel free to get in touch and share your thoughts on the Metaverse trend.
We welcome all manner of feedback – even (and especially) disagreements.
So don’t be shy. Write us at [email protected].
September 8, 2021