Utilizing Decentralized Finance in Land Building in the Metaverse | Hrish Lotlikar & Zain Jaffer
The decentralized finance movement has taken the internet by storm and has spilled over into the Metaverse, with real estate and land building being one of its main uses. This episode explores how decentralized finance can help with land building in the Metaverse.
SuperWorld is an augmented reality (AR) virtual world geographically mapped onto the real world, allowing users to create, discover and monetize AR content.
The SuperWorld virtual real estate platform is mapped over the entire surface of the globe, allowing users to purchase —literally—any place on Earth. From skyscrapers and stadiums to historical monuments and iconic structures, including wonders of the natural world, when you step into SuperWorld, you’ll truly make a world of your own.
Utilizing Decentralized Finance in Land Building in the Metaverse | Hrish Lotlikar & Zain Jaffer
We're joined by Hrish Lotlikar. He's the Cofounder and CEO of SuperWorld, a platform where you can buy and sell virtual real estate that is backed by the blockchain and represented by NFTs. Hrish, welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me. It's a pleasure to be on.
Hrish, you've got a great background. I'd love for you to share it and walk us through how you came to be where you are running a great startup in the metaverse space.
Thanks so much. I appreciate that. I live globally nomadically. As an interesting tidbit, every year I live in different places around the world. I love the world and the cultures. Building SuperWorld for me is very much my passion. It's part of my heart. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be able to build a world like SuperWorld. I grew up in the United States. I started my career in management consulting and investment banking.
I was at UBS and HSBC in New York. Of all things, I started in real estate investment banking. It's funny how life works out. I had no idea back then that I would start a virtual real estate platform and world. You can't connect the dots going forward, only backward. I ended up in venture capital in New York, investing in tech and biotech.
The metaverse encompasses all these different technologies – from Web 3 to NFTs. It brings all those together. In a way, it represents the next level of the internet.
Years ago, I had a crazy idea, which was probably one of the first of my crazy ideas. I was like, "Wouldn't it be cool to start a venture capital fund in the emerging market?" I went out to Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Moldova. It ended up taking me about a year and a half. I started a venture capital fund based in Ukraine backed by a big investor out there. I also did the same thing in Belarus. After that, I was early at a company called Toptal, which is a talent marketplace backed by Andreessen Horowitz.
I was an early employee in the first biz dev at Toptal. I learned a lot about growing and scaling a platform and how to be scrappy, experimental and all the things that come with startups. Years ago, I started Rogue Initiative Studios, a film, television, gaming and virtual reality studio in Hollywood. My cofounder produced the Call of Duty Modern Warfare series and Ghosts. My production partner there is Michael Bay, the Action Director. He is known for Transformers, The Island, Armageddon and Pearl Harbor.
In Rogue Initiative, we build franchises, feature films, television, gaming and virtual reality to amusement park rides and toys. That's how I got into AR/VR. Rogue Initiative is backed by many of the top AR/VR venture capital funds in Silicon Valley and globally. That's how my background came about. Pokémon GO came out years ago. Back then, it became a huge hit as a worldwide sensation. We thought, "What if we could empower anyone to build anything anywhere? What if we could build a world where the next 1,000 Pokémon goes get built onto it? Essentially, how can you enable anyone to create, discover and monetize content anywhere in the world?" That was the vision of SuperWorld.
It's funny you came from UBS. UBS has been pretty slow when it comes to adopting decentralized finance. It's because they blame regulation. On the other hand, when you look at what's happening with the metaverse, it's seen in a different light. Some of our viewers may have heard that JPMorgan has essentially predicted that the whole metaverse industry is a $1 trillion-plus opportunity. They bought some land in one of the metaverses, Decentraland and created a JPMorgan Onyx Lounge. You've even got HSBC that's bought land in the Sandbox platform.
The metaverse is seen differently than DeFi. It's a place where people get it. I felt this a lot with real estate folks. Crypto and DeFi feel like, "It’s this black hatch shady confusing thing where money laundering might be happening. The finance world is all about this. They're heavily regulated. You've got to know where your customers are." The metaverse sounds like the new frontier. You came from investment banking, real estate, UBS and traditional financing. Do you agree with that perspective? Is that the representation of how people think about it from the corporate world?
It's a good analysis that the metaverse, as a term, encompasses a lot of these different technologies, whether you're talking about Web3, DeFi, NFTs, AR/VR, blockchain, in general AI and all of these things, bringing all those together. That combination of things, when you use the term metaverse, in a way represents this next level of the internet. There are virtual worlds like Second Life and others even before that which gave brands and people a place to go. With the nature of what the metaverse can be, which is a place, it doesn't necessarily have to connote DeFi or NFTs necessarily.
With that, per your insight, it seems like brands are more willing to embrace it because they don't necessarily have to go down certain pathways to create content like a bank in a WebGL 3D environment. I assume that they are going to go down that path and enable the utilization of NFTs and other things. On a primary level, we're talking about an immersive type of environment, whether in WebGL or AR/VR, which is a lot more understandable for the traditional finance world.
Putting aside the tokenization of real estate which will disrupt the way real estate is bought and sold. I'm in the traditional real estate sector. I'm also a venture capitalist. I've got 1 foot in tech, the other foot is in real estate and I bring them 2 together. I'm investing in PropTech startups. A lot of the traditional folks from real estate have this view, "We've got a couple of LPs."
Use technology to enable people to do positive things for the world. Build a better world with the use of technology.
A lot of people that made money in crypto are diversifying into real estate but I've never heard so much excitement before about the metaverse. It's because it's easy to get. The idea is visual and immersive. We have spaces that we live in and to have a digital representation of that space is much easier to understand. You can remove the jargon. There's a lot of jargon. It makes things inherently complicated. Perhaps that's a symptom of an industry that was created by technology enthusiasts. The metaverse bridges that.
You are interesting. I wanted to bring you on our show because my research into the metaverse feels like it's hard to connect to real estate. A lot of these virtual worlds are fantasy worlds that don't relate to the real world that we live in. A lot of folks like the metaverse because what comes to the head is, "What if you could have my home but in the metaverse?" Whereas when you look at metaverse, it's Decentraland, Sandbox and Axie Infinity. There are all these other platforms.
Let me explain. We call it WebGL environments or environments where you can navigate and create an avatar but they don't represent our real world. I was excited to bring you on. You've mapped in some ways the entire planet and turned it into 64 billion unique plots of land, each one 100x100 meters, which is the size of a Yankee Stadium. That's what you're doing. You've created that. Could you talk a bit about that and the connection between the real world, the metaverse and the digital world?
That's a great understanding of the differentiation that we're bringing to the market. The metaverse is this online-offline interface, a combination of virtual worlds. It's the next level or stage of the internet. It's this persistent environment where we work and play. For us at SuperWorld, it is important that we leverage these technologies to enhance people's real lives. There's a concept called play-to-earn where you play a video game and earn crypto.
There are a lot of people that don't want to play video games. They want to live their lives and do things they're passionate about. At SuperWorld, we call it live-to-earn. How can you take token onyx and apply that to real-world behavior? How can you take analog activities and incentivize people using tokens to do things that they want to do and engage with brands they want to do? It's a permission data sovereignty and data integrity type of way where you're utilizing these technologies in the real world.
The other part of SuperWorld is how do we build a better world? How do we take all these technologies, all this user activity and create this way to enable people to do positive things for the world? An example of that is when we buy a plot of land in SuperWorld and plant trees in the world. We're partnered with the World Bank in the Caribbean to work on things related to hurricane disaster recovery. We did NFTs with little countries in the Caribbean. Barbados sends and is building an embassy in SuperWorld. We're partnered with the United Nations and UNESCO to help rebuild cities.
Back to the point of real estate, the real estate covers the surface of the earth. When you're buying real estate in SuperWorld, you're buying places where you do live, work, play and spend time in the real world. It might sound ironic but we're building a virtual world that's focused on your real life. I want to keep you in your real life. We want to be a life-enhancing platform, not a life-escaping platform there.
Here's this movie called Social Dilemma that came out years ago on Netflix about how we're all living in these algorithmic bubbles. We're all staring at our phones all day. Kids are plugged into computers and people are obsessed with their next Instagram or TikTok post. For us, I want to keep people in their real life and use these technologies to enhance their real life. On the property side of that back to PropTech is how can we enable people to become stakeholders?
If we're moving to a geospatial environment, you agree that that's where the technology's going and you understand that Pokemon GO, as an example, was the fastest company to $1 billion in revenue, all of that revenue happened in geospatial locations. What if you could decentralize those locations and enable people to buy them and then become key stakeholders in those locations? What if you enable those people along with everyone else to create anything anywhere? You create this marketplace of opportunities and enable people to own those places where all that activity and opportunity occurs.
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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.
- The Problem with Real Estate Rushing to the Metaverse - YouTube
- Can You Bring Crypto to the Real Estate Market? - YouTube
- The Metaverse: What It Is and How It Can Present Real Solutions - YouTube
- Rogue Initiative Studios
- Call of Duty Modern Warfare
- JPMorgan Onyx Lounge
- Second Life
- https://Bit.ly/2SWhYW5 - Zain Jaffer YouTube
- https://Apple.co/2Izoznu - The PropTech VC Podcast
- https://Spoti.fi/2STWDwq - The PropTech VC Podcast
- https://Bit.ly/2H7s6c0 - The PropTech VC Podcast