May 24, 2022

Dubai Week

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GetTransfer.com founder foresights a journey into the Metaverse

Alexander Pershikov, founder of GetTransfer.com, talked about his journey to metaverses, as well as his upcoming marketplace for experiences and meta-experiences.

Alexander Pershikov is a serial entrepreneur, founder of GetTransfer.com and GetRentacar.com, and a metaverse visionary.

How did you, as a transportation provider, decide to participate in metaverses?

I build and develop travel marketplaces. Metaverses are three-dimensional virtual worlds focused on social interaction. Virtual travel is a new development in the travel industry. We have created an ecosystem that attracts companies offering the best prices for transfers and car rentals — all from best local providers. And the experiences of any kind is the end goal of any transfer or car rental. After all, our clients don’t just travel for the sake of traveling — they’re looking for new lifelong unforgettable experiences, which is exactly what our innovative platform GetExperience.com provides. The innovation lies in the ability to search for an experience or start a tender based on your budget, where experience providers will compete for your business, saving you time and money.

Our ecosystem allows you to travel in the real world and beyond it, into the online and meta worlds — be it video games or metaverses. This is new type of travel that doesn’t require any physical movement, and we decided to provide our clients with this opportunity.

How can a “meta-journey” potentially be better than a trip to, say, the Chichen Itza?

Current VR helmets tend to have a resolution of up to 4K, while most of the graphics are in 2K. A new version of the Oculus Quest 3 is scheduled to come out in 2023 — the Meta Quest 3, which will have an 8K resolution, creating an image that is like reality. Just imagine, you pay 1 dollar and in three seconds you’re on a virtual tour through the jungle on your way to the Chichen Itza, along with your friends, all in the realistic resolution. Or, if you’d like, people who were lucky enough to tour the Sahara can broadcast an image to your headset that will be just as sharp as what you’re seeing right now. This is potentially more appealing than going through all the trouble of dealing with a travel agency: “Don’t forget to check your visa, take your passport to the airport,” etc.

Right now, most metaverses are closer to 2K resolution, reminiscent of 90s video game graphics. But the technology is developing rapidly and 8K is on the horizon.

Online video game Horizon Worlds. Developed by Meta Platforms for the Oculus Rift S and the Oculus Quest 2

© oculus.com

Preview for the new Unreal Engine 5, created to support 8K. Developer Epic thinks Unreal Engine 5 can be used to make films instead of shooting them on camera.

© unrealengine.com

The Matrix Awakens, powered by Unreal Engine 5. Release is scheduled for late 2022, and a demo is currently available on Xbox.

© unrealengine.com

Only few will be able to tell between a conventional film and one made in Unreal 5, and the difference between live actors and virtual ones will only be visible in close-ups. As of yet, metaverses aren’t powerful enough to process such realistic graphics. A niche, but promising market is VR-Headsets connected to PCs. After all, a bulky, noisy PC that eats up 750 watts of electricity and needs a $2.000 graphics card is something only the most dedicated computer nerds will consider. But Minecraft has proven that kids don’t need crazy graphics — they’re perfectly fine with 2K. See also: the success of Fortnite. What makes the metaverses built around these games different from expected true metaverses? Today gaming metaverses all based on gameplay upgrades, not social interaction, which spells the difference between a game and a true metaverse. However, they can evolve rapidly and turn into platforms brimming with potential.

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What is the target audience of metaverses for the foreseeable future?

I think the younger generation will be more interested in metaverses, as with any new product. Facebook’s user base has stopped growing, which is something everyone’s talking about, now that Meta’s market value is dropping. Snapchat has the second most promising audience, as confirmed by the stock market: as soon as the news broke about Facebook’s user base, investors turned to Snapchat. Third place is TikTok (owned by ByteDance), but they’re private and don’t trade on the stock market yet. I think we’ll see a surge in Meta and metaverse stock, and companies working with metaverses will also see considerable growth. New markets, new audiences, and new products — all that will lead to more sales.

What was it that sparked your interest in experiences and meta-experiences?

It’s all part of a tourist’s “supply chain”: buying a plane ticket, picking a hotel, getting a new experience. One of our goals is to provide clients with experiences, including ones with the prefix “meta-”. There is a burgeoning new type of travel, which is travel with friends through metaverses.

Those who could and would travel themselves can keep doing just that. But a new market is forming for those who never tried it, couldn’t afford it for various reasons, or just don’t want to do it anymore. All this means that the travel market and the experience market will see considerable growth. For example, it used to be you’d have to wave down taxis while standing on the side of the road. This was inconvenient and expensive, so taxi-on-demand apps appeared, which led to considerable market growth and lower rides prices. The same thing will happen to the market for offline and online experiences.

Here’s how a traditional trip works right now:

  • you buy a plane of train ticket;
  • book a hotel;
  • book transfer;
  • rent a car;
  • book a trip in advance, e.g. a desert safari, or purchase one on the spot.

When talking about the metaverse, the chain of events is much simpler:

  • internet;
  • VR-helmet;
  • marketplace of experiences;
  • immersion into the metaverse.

Of course, it’s a different experience of a different quality. Right now those two things don’t seem like they’re on the same level, but soon enough this will become common practice.

How quickly will the metaverse market grow?

It will be very quickly. The technology is there, so there are zero limiting factors. The market can become large and significant by 2025-2027. By the end of 2021 it became clear that people started trusting online content more than offline content. First, it seems like humanity as a whole has become a digital consumer, and, second, statistics show that more VR headsets were sold in 2021 than Xbox consoles.

It is all starting now we entering an age of online experiences. The younger generation is already consuming virtual content. To them, this format is much more engaging, much clearer, much more familiar. This means the format is due for more functionality and a broader range of capabilities. 8K goggles and new tactile sensors will fuel the rampant growth of new meta-companies, meta-services, and everything that has to do with meta market.

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What is your take on Walmart’s new strategy — are they also trying to become a meta-company or create their own metaverse?

I doubt they’ll be willing to create their own metaverse. Walmart isn’t a tech company, but they will definitely be able to start selling their services through metaverses. This is a huge, booming market, and anyone with a client base will be part of it, Walmart included. Can you imagine how this will boost demand for meta-products? Right now they’re putting a lot of work into NFTs. It’s possible they’ll create their own cryptocurrency or integrate existing ones. There’s already a market for various online and AR (augmented reality) fitness courses that they’ll be able to profitably sell.

What services will GetExperience.com provide? Will it also sell digital goods?

GetExperience.com will sell everything that has to do with experiences: be it virtual or augmented reality, metaverses, video games, web content or anything in the real world.

What do you think about meta-versions of adidas sneakers or the NFT GAP hoodie?

Clients are definitely interested. There’s demand for these things. Right now people are buying them based on hype, but soon it will determine what your character looks like. You’re not going to put on something you drew yourself or choose one of the plain-looking standard options, right? Besides, many will want brand clothes and accessories. You’ll want your avatar to look stylish, so you’ll dress it in brand clothes. By the way, adidas has sold $22 million dollars’ worth of virtual sneakers. And be sure to visit one of the meta-fashion shows that are already being organized by LVMH and buy yourself something meta new!

What is the estimated value of the metaverse market?

By various estimates it will reach $80 billion by 2025. A trend to watch is the advertising of meta-products and meta-services. There’s a popular case studies in marketing how advertisement creates demand: before there was no Coca-Cola available, there was no demand for it, but as soon as product appeared and the ads appeared, people started showing interest. The marketing budgets for meta-services will be huge. Metaverses are a large and promising market niche. Another important point is that they fit into the ESG framework (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance — parameters that ensure the sustainable development of a company) — since they help save on fuel and reduce waste.

What about car manufacturers, will they work with metaverses?

They will be an integral part of the metaverse lifestyle. In my opinion, General Motors is currently closest to reaching the metaverse market. In late 2021 they announced their new Ultifi platform. It is expected to come out in 2023. GM is expecting massive revenue growth from selling non-automotive services. I’m sure online experiences will become big part of their ecosystem. Not everyone wants to look out the window while en route, even if that window is a computer screen or wear a headset. Some will prefer to pop by Bali for 40 minutes before going to work.

What changes await to the tourism industry?

The market for industrial and corporate experiences is growing, but still fragmented, unstructured. There are lots of traditional business models in there, like car manufacturers trying to sell cars by creating special experiences for buyers, such as the Porsche Experience or the Audi Experience. Car factories provide tours around the facilities. The general trend in the experience industry right now is mass appeal with an emphasis on loyalty and uniqueness. GetExperience.com aims to help every provider create and develop their experience — ratings and reviews will do their job, and the best competitor will win. GetExperience.com even launched a school for hosts on how to start earning more.

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How do you profit in the metaverse?

Mark Zuckerberg, for example, is already calling on developers to join his Metaverse. He’s expecting tour guides, engineers, designers, and programmers to answer the call — all of them stand to profit. To anyone with a desire to create, the question “how do you profit in the Metaverse?” sounds a lot like “how do you profit on planet Earth?” The same possibilities we’re used to seeing in everyday life have been transferred into the digital world. But the big question remains: do you work for someone or do you start your own business?

And how’s Microsoft doing?

The CEO of Microsoft has announced that this is a priority development for them. This means that in two years’ time we’ll be using Word inside metaverses and children might be learning in meta-schools.

The real race right now is happening between Meta and Microsoft. Meta might have been the first to enter the race to creating a metaverse, but Microsoft turned out to be better prepared. Meta’s strategy is as follows: “We invest in the hardware — headsets, sensors, and infrastructure, and create the software ourselves.” Meta announced a $180 billion investment into the Metaverse. For comparison, Steve Jobs invested only $150 million into the iPhone, and the iPhone changed everything.

Microsoft’s strategy rests on video games as the basis for the metaverse. This is why the company acquired multiple gaming giants like Minecraft, ZeniMax (Doom, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls), and Activision (Call of Duty, Crash Bandicoot, Tony Hawk’s) and became the third name in the gaming industry after Sony and Tencent. Microsoft believes that cross-platform products will be compatible with all devices and operating systems, including the metaverse.

What new professions will emerge in the metaverse?

First and foremost, professions that have to do with creating content and experiences. Then there’ll be a need for tour guides, people who create digital attractions, managers, and teachers. For example, there are people on Instagram who make money by creating content. The metaverse will attract the same type of people — it’s a new, rapidly-growing market that will soon be massive.

What are some of the most unusual meta-experiences you can think of?

Virtual marriage is gaining momentum in Asia right now — people tying the knot within a virtual platform. In Japan, people are already starting to live with AI. Meta-weddings will soon become commonplace. By the way, pet lovers might be interested in virtual funerals and metaverse pet cemeteries. For example, you could create a grave for a beloved cat or dog and install, say, a headstone with a logotype, maybe even an interactive one, possibly drawn by a famous designer — the sky’s the limit.