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Down to Business: The metaverse – more than just a

The metaverse has become one of this year’s hottest buzzwords. Although not a completely new phenomenon, the term, which broadly refers to a virtual world where people can socialise, play, shop and work, hit the mainstream when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the social network’s new name would be Meta.

The metaverse will grow into a $13 trillion (£10tn) market, according to a report by investment bank Citigroup, and Israel will play a key role in its future, says Eze Vidra, who has been investing in the space since 2017 when he co-founded Remagine Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on interactive entertainment, metaverse and consumer tech.

Vidra, a former general partner at Google Ventures (GV), says: “Israel is already punching above its weight in metaverse- related tech and, talent wise, crypto and cybersecurity require a lot of similar skills, so there’s a pipeline of talent I believe will choose to tackle the opportunities in the Metaverse and Web3 space.”

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The metaverse will grow into a $13 trillion (£10tn) market, according to a report by investment bank Citigroup, and Israel will play a key role in its future, says Eze Vidra

Remagine Ventures, which Vidra founded with Kevin Baxpehler, recently published the first ‘map’ of the Israeli start-ups building the metaverse, listing more than 50 start-ups that have collectively raised more than $3.5bn.

“On the infrastructure side, crypto custodian FireBlocks recently raised $550m series E and was valued at over $8bn,” explains Vidra. “Overwolf provides gamers with the ability to create user-generated content on top of games and attracted a significant commitment from Andreessen Horowitz. StreamElements raised funding from SoftBank to give steamers a virtual studio, and there are many more examples of exciting start-ups in this space in Israel.”

For the opportunity is huge. Gartner predicts that 25 percent of people will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse by 2026 either for work, shopping, education, social or entertainment. JP Morgan estimates that on the virtual goods commerce alone, it is a $1tn opportunity a year. Some analysts are describing it as an $8tn opportunity.

Eze Vidra (left) with Remagine Team.

What about those who are sceptical about the metaverse and say it’s just a fad? “We’re spending more time online than ever before and consumer habits are changing. For people below 50, for example, gaming has become one of the top forms of entertainment and over 90 percent of Gen Zers play games,” notes Vidra. “So I’d say we need to be patient. When we talk about the metaverse it’s still a pretty amorphic term as it’s currently being built. I’m excited about the number and calibre of founders choosing to tackle opportunities in this space.”

He adds: “We’re still probably a decade away from what is collectively discussed as the vision for the metaverse, but there’s going to be lots of opportunities for technology companies and creators to play a role.”

The Israeli start-up ecosystem is booming. “It’s experiencing an unprecedented period of growth, both in terms of investment as well
as innovation.

Remagine’s map of the metaverse landscape is split by sector: decentralisation, spatial computing, creator economy, discovery, experiences. Vidra believes the potential of combining the metaverse with education, crypto gaming, NFT [non-fungible token] infrastructure and virtual goods commerce present exciting opportunities.

Start-ups to watch that Remagine have invested in include: Echo3D, which helps manage 3D content in the cloud, powering augmented reality [AR], virtual reality [VR] and gaming; Zoog, a mobile app connecting families with AR-powered storytelling experiences; Novos, the leading training app for gaming, powering the athletes of the Metaverse; Toya, a gaming studio for the 1.3 million underserved female gamers, starting with Roblox and RebelBots – a new exciting crypto gaming studio, pioneering the ‘play to earn’ space.

At GV, Vidra led the fund’s first investment outside of the US. Before that, he was head of Google for Entrepreneurs Europe and the founding head of Campus London, Google’s first physical space for technology start-ups globally. He has also held leadership positions in product management at Shopping.com in Israel, Gerson Lehrman Group in New York, Ask.com in Silicon Valley and at AOL in London, where he was the principal product manager for search in Europe.

Ten years ago, he founded Techbikers, a non-profit bringing together the start-up ecosystem on cross-country charity bike rides. It has raised money to build 11 schools and 50 libraries in the developing nations in partnership with Room to Read.

The Israeli start-up ecosystem is booming. “It’s experiencing an unprecedented period of growth, both in terms of investment as well
as innovation. The breadth of arenas where the start-ups are at the frontier of innovation is also growing. In the past, Israeli start-ups were mainly known for cybersecurity and semiconductors. While those are still major areas, we’ve seen over 70 unicorns in Israel across multiple sectors from enterprise tech to health tech, gaming and consumer applications, a much bigger range than ever before.”



Source: Jewish News

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