How Gen Z VCs Is Changing the Real Estate Market and the Metaverse
Meagan Loyst founded Gen Z VCs, a global community centered around empowering the next generation of leaders in venture capital, growing it to more than 11,000 members since November 2020. The youngest investor at Lerer Hippeau, she's sourced and helped lead three investments, working with 12 portfolio companies. Loyst's Gen Z VCs Summit included 3,000-plus attendees from 71 countries.
Know More About Gen Z VC https://www.genzvcs.com/
How Gen Z VCs Is Changing The Real Estate Market And The Metaverse
Thanks so much for having me, Zain. I'm excited to be here.
You are a venture capitalist. How did you end up where you are now? Tell us very quickly about Gen Z VCs.
I started at Lerer Hippeau in September of 2020 and got my job through a cold email. I graduated from Boston College in 2019. I went straight into investing right out of college. I was at General Atlantic. There, I was in a sourcing role sending hundreds of cold emails a week to founders and building thematic deep dives. I learned that I love investing but I wanted to be focusing on the earlier stage largely because at the early stage, you get to be so ingrained with the day-to-day work of founders and being a thought partner there. Also, there are a lot of exciting things that happen on day one of starting a business. I shot a cold email to Andrea Hippeau here at LH.
Many people think about the metaverse as virtual reality, which is not the right classification or way to think about it.
I wanted to stay in New York. I'm from New York. I wanted to be able to invest in technology, FinTech, healthcare, and consumer. LH checked all those boxes and more. One thing that I think about a lot is diversity. As a young woman in a venture, you don't often see multiple female partners in any given fund. That was something that was important to me about LH and joining here. I started at LH in September of 2020. The Gen Z VCs community and movement, which I started, all kicked off in November of 2020. I joined LH as the youngest person on our team by a factor of a decade.
At the time, it was the height of COVID. I was living with my parents. When you are hired as a young person at a venture fund, so much of your job is being the boots on the ground, going to events, and meeting founders. I was going downstairs to have dinner with my parents every night. For me, I knew there had to be other young people at other funds that were doing the same job as me. I just didn't know them yet. Even in spite of me being the youngest person on my team, one thing that I realized was my perspective was valuable, especially as we are thinking about next-gen investments like companies being built for Gen Z and younger founders who are my peers.
I tweeted about it. I was like, "Young people investing in Gen Z, who are you? I want to meet you, compile stories, and maybe write an article." That's exactly what I did. I interviewed 70 young VCs all over the world and wrote about it in an article. It was like, "Gen Z VCs Weigh In: Top Trends and Favorite Companies." That was when I coined the term, Gen Z VCs. The article itself blew up. There were thousands of views. Microsoft and TechCrunch shared it. The key insight into why people got so excited about it was people didn't know that Gen Z'ers were old enough to be doing investing.
That was pretty mind-boggling for a lot of people but on the flip side, people care what young people are doing and thinking, especially in this industry like investing where young people are the kingmakers of these platforms deciding what's cool and what's not. The article blew up. I started a community on the back heels of that. We went from 30 people to 1,000 in 4 days, 3,000 a month later, and now over 13,000. We are incredibly engaged. We have north of 200,000 messages in the Slack community and tons of initiatives run by young people.
Even for me, I went from someone who got my job in a cold email, was unqualified for my job, had 50 followers on Twitter, and no articles and community to now. I'm a thought leader around the Gen Z perspective. I'm in the press. I'm talking about the community and empowering my peers through what we are doing. It has been a crazy journey for me in particular. I have created a platform where I can elevate my peers in a profound way. That's the whole background and story on me, Gen Z VCs, how it all came together, and my work at LH.
When I was growing up and was about 14 or 15, I was lucky that my voice broke quite early. I sounded a lot more mature. I would call up all the local businesses and convince them that they need a website. I would never dare to reveal my age. I would just be cold calling, making all this money, and creating excuses why I can't meet them face-to-face. It certainly was easier being a male. I'm glad to see a big shift in what's going on.
I appreciate that age is just a number. It's an excuse sometimes people put up because they listened to that advice. You are supposed to follow a certain trajectory and career path. I wanted to be a VC at one stage. Even VCs told me, "You need to go to business school. You need to get operational experience. You need to do X, Y, and Z before you are in a place." I said, "Screw it. I'm going to start a company." It was the best decision ever.
You talked about breaking into an industry, which is quite male-dominated. There is no industry more male-dominated than real estate stereotypically, especially in the position of partners and decision-making. Unfortunately, it's very male-dominated. It's pretty hard to break into what they call the old boys club. It's somewhat also difficult racially too. It's quite heavily a White male type of stereotype. What's going on in the metaverse? How would you define the metaverse and all the associated terminology around it?
The idea and the concept of the metaverse have existed for a long time. When you think about the metaverse now versus the metaverse in 20 years, there are different ways to think about it.
A lot of people think about the metaverse as virtual reality. That is not the right classification or way to think about it. A large part of that is because of Facebook renaming to Meta and talking about virtual reality and what they are building with Horizon Worlds. A lot of people in America and the world think, "The metaverse is virtual reality. We are all going to be running around with headsets." In reality, the definition is much broader than that. Virtual reality is certainly a subset. The way that I think about the metaverse is it's a virtual world where people can socialize, work, shop, and play.
The three categories within that are virtual reality like Meta but also augmented reality, which is similar to Pokémon GO, for example, or more traditional virtual worlds like Roblox. A lot of people don't necessarily think of traditional games as being metaverses but that was the introduction to the metaverse for so many people, especially Gen Z'ers like me. I grew up playing Club Penguin and Webkinz. When you think about the actual mechanics of how that works, you have a digital avatar that is running around a virtual world.
There is an in-game ecosystem of money and digital currency. You are building a home, friendships, and connecting with people. The metaverses are built in a much more scalable way to think about creating actual monetization opportunities for people and property owners in the crypto world. The idea and the concept of the metaverse have existed for a long time. It's just when you think about the metaverse now versus the metaverse in twenty years, there are different ways to think about it.
You published the piece that went quite viral. When we talked about sending cold emails, I sent you a cold email saying, "I love this piece. I sent it out to my network." It was one of the first pieces online that defined for people the layman what's going on in the industry. There has been a lot of interest in the space. I'm trying to ascertain. It's speculation. There are a lot of people coming in, driving up prices, and seeing Meta rebrand. There are other people that are legitimately trying to build an ecosystem. There's a lot of hype. Do you agree with that?
There is a lot of hype but it's warranted. I saw a tweet, which was very telling. The intersection of NFTs and the metaverse are intertwined. When you think about the future of the metaverse, many people are going to be able to use their NFTs as avatars to roam around virtual worlds. That's the hope with the idea and concept of an open metaverse. Mutant Ape Yacht Club and Bored Ape Yacht Club in January 2022 did more sales on OpenSea than the global box office did for the entire entertainment industry. You can call that hype but there is fact and data that is backing up a lot of this where this is the future of entertainment and culture.
That's why my article did blow up because I focused on the cultural aspects of the metaverse and how people are engaging with culture and brands, which at the end of the day is what matters here. My 50-year-old aunt is texting me and being like, "I get it now. I love Prada, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana. I want to be a part of this." People's introduction to the metaverse is oftentimes through these cultural moments versus, "I have heard of Roblox. That sounds interesting. I'm going to play." It's like someone is holding a concert in the metaverse that you love. It's going to be driven by fandoms. A lot of that is through existing communities, brands, and new NFT projects.
It sounds to me like you are saying metaverse is more than just gaming because that's the impression a lot of people have of these virtual environments where you can navigate with your avatar. They see their children playing Roblox and other people playing Fortnite, Minecraft, or Second Life. What's going on here? Is it gaming at its core? Do you feel like gaming is only a subset?
You have to have the gaming mechanics to keep people engaged. There are two ways to think about it. You come for the games because they are fun and you are enjoying your time or you come from the social and cultural aspects of things. If I am going to Fortnite, it will be because Ariana Grande is hosting a concert. I won't stay for the games but there are people that go to Fortnite because they love the game. Their friends are playing the game. People go to different metaverses for different reasons.
This is also a big believer why I don't think there will be just one metaverse that wins and takes over the industry. People might appreciate the UI and functionality of Microsoft Mesh for work use cases or they may after work want to put on their Oculus headset and hang around in Horizon Worlds because their friends are there. There are going to be different use cases for different aspects of the metaverse. That's how I think about that.
Subscribe to Zain Jaffer: https://bit.ly/2SWhYW5
Follow the PropTech VC Podcast:
Listen on Apple - https://apple.co/2Izoznu
Listen on Spotify - https://spoti.fi/2STWDwq
Listen on Google Play - https://bit.ly/2H7s6c0
Follow Zain Jaffer at:
Current Ventures: https://zain-ventures.com/
The Metaverse—What It Is and How It Can Present Real Solutions https://youtu.be/al3Nyitg71U
How the Metaverse Could Offer Marked Changes in Workflows and Utilization https://youtu.be/uol2i8S-CgE
Real Estate in the Metaverse https://youtu.be/NeuouWh6Xgs
About Zain Jaffer:
Zain Jaffer is an accomplished executive, investor, and entrepreneur. He started his first company at the age of 14 and later moved to the US as an immigrant to found Vungle, after securing $25M from tech giants including Google & AOL in 2011. Vungle recently sold for $780M.
His achievements have garnered international recognition and acclaim; he is the recipient of prestigious awards such as "Forbes 30 Under 30," "Inc. Magazine's 35 Under 35," and the "SF Business Times Tech & Innovation Award." He is regularly featured in major business & tech publications such as The Wall Street Journal, VentureBeat, and TechCrunch.
- Gen Z VCs
- Lerer Hippeau
- Gen Z VCs Weigh In: Top Trends and Favorite Companies
- Bored Ape Yacht Club
- Microsoft Mesh
- Apple Podcasts - The PropTech VC Podcast
- Spotify - The PropTech VC Podcast
- Google Podcasts - The PropTech VC Podcast
- YouTube - Zain Jaffer
- Twitter - Zain Jaffer
- LinkedIn - Zain Jaffer
- The Metaverse - What It Is and How It Can Present Real Solutions - YouTube
- How the Metaverse Could Offer Marked Changes in Workflows and Utilization - YouTube