Building products in the Metaverse – Mitchell Bayer-Goldman on The Product Experience "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs November 11 2022 False Iot, Podcasts, The Product Experience, Web Platform, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 7340 Building products in the Metaverse - Mitchell Bayer-Goldman on The Product Experience Product Management 29.36

Building products in the Metaverse – Mitchell Bayer-Goldman on The Product Experience

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What is the Metaverse and how can it help product managers in their daily craft? To help us make sense of the movement, Lily and Randy talked with Mitchell Bayer-Goldman to help us unpack all of the buzzwords and complexities about The Metaverse, and why we as product managers should note of where the concept is going. Bonus points for how many times we mention the word “Metaverse”!


 

 

Featured links

Featured Links: Follow Mitchell on LinkedIn and Twitter | Volta | Matthew Ball on The Metaverse | Listen to this episode on Youtube! 

Lily Smith: 0:00
Randy, I’m so excited. I’ve heard about this newfangled thing. I think it’s going to be massive. I think we should get in early and build some products for it.

Randy Silver: 0:10
Oh, you must be talking about my space. Yeah, it’s gonna be massive. I mean, I’ve already got this friend on it. He’s named Tom.

Lily Smith: 0:19
There actually, I was referring to them meta bass.

Randy Silver: 0:23
Move to the metaverse. Really? I mean, that’s never gonna happen.

Lily Smith: 0:31
Well, actually, I’m not sure you or I could claim to be in the know enough to have a solid opinion on this, which is why I invited Michel Bayer Goldman, co founder of Valter XR to spill the beans on what the metaverse is, what it will be, and how we can build products on it or in it or for it.

Randy Silver: 0:50
Oh, wait. Okay, I watched imaging heaps video that was done using voltar. That was actually pretty cool. But is that really metaverse?

Lily Smith: 1:02
I have no idea. But you’ll learn all about that. And also what TTP stands for and why that’s important. If you listen on Wait,

Randy Silver: 1:11
wait, what is TTP you gotta tell me tell me now.

Lily Smith: 1:20
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Lily Smith: 1:52
Mine the product also offers free product tank meetups in more than 200 cities. And there’s probably one near you. Hi, Mitch, so nice to welcome you today on the product experience podcast.

Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 2:07
Thank you very much lovely to be here.

Lily Smith: 2:09
So before we get into our topic today, it’d be a nice if you could give us a real quick intro to who you are and your background in product.

Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 2:18
Sure. So my name is Mitchell Bayer-Goldman. I’m part of the Co-founder and CEO of Voltar XR. My background and product I guess started when I worked in management business when I was 16. And scaled up as sort of a back end system that helped manage payment infrastructure and deal flow. I then actually went to investment banking, so maybe not as pertinent in terms of this particular conversation, but definitely shaped a lot of my experience. And then for the last six or seven years, I this is my second tech startup I’ve co founded, I advise sort of five or six other startups and we’ve been a head of growth at olio. So I’ve had the pleasure of seeing lots of different startups, lots and lots of different stages, rally stage all the way through to Series C and got to work months, very, very, very different and unique products.

Lily Smith: 3:08
And so speaking about the products that you’ve been working on more recently at voltar XR, we are talking today about Metaverse a little bit about what filter XR is, and also what your kind of take is on the metaverse because that’s our sort of topic for today. So let’s kick off with like, what is the metaverse

Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 3:32
so straight to a very expansive and undefined, undefined question. For the kill, I mean the tackle I guess the easier bit from my perspective, you know, in terms of what I’m up to volta, and how that’s kind of involved in the metaverse and can then kind of cover a little bit more on the metaverse what it and what it is itself. Volta is essentially a way for musicians for artists to create their own 3d interactive experiences. What does that mouthful actually mean? We’ve essentially created a tool that allows any creator to download from our website itself surf, and it’s sort of like a Squarespace or a Photoshop for specifically for musicians. So they can drag in palm trees and spaceships and create their own sort of 3d scene as it were, and then essentially allow any of those 3d objects to be already wrapped up. So if I was to speak, they could move if I was to play some sort of baseline of I’m a DJ. Those objects could explode and shatter and new elements have come in and new videos can loop. So that’s what we’ve been up to. And, you know, have seen in this three years, I’ve been working on volta kind of what life was like pre Metaverse, or at least Metaverse, kind of blowing up in the in the press and what it’s been like post and we actually got to see that firsthand. We went through Tech Stars back in 2021. But that kind of I guess quite nicely leads me on to what even is the metaverse and, you know, there is this someone that I really look up to in this Bass, who’s quite prolific and his name’s Matthew ball and I’ll start with his interpretation or his his his definition, the metaverse, which is what’s quite broadly been defined the press and quite a lot of people subscribe to, and I’ll give my take on it in terms of what I think where we where we are on the journey and what I think we’re I think we’re headed, but his definition of verbatim is at the metaverse is a massively scaled and interoperable network of real time rendered 3d virtual worlds, which can be experienced synchronously and persistently by an effectively unlimited number of users with an individual sense of presence and with a continuity of data, such as identity, history, entitlements, objects, communications and payments. Now, there is a lot of buzzwords in there.

Randy Silver: 5:47
There’s something I didn’t hear him say, I did not hear Him, say Facebook meta or Mark Zuckerberg.

Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 5:54
Specifically, I think you’ll hear a lot of us in the industry say that well leave out those references quite deliberately, intentionally. And yeah, there’s good rationale as to why and look, you know, to unpack what I just said there in terms of what was again, full of acronyms and buzzwords. You know, really, I think the kind of key building blocks is that within the metaverse, it is this persistent state. So it’s not a case of where you’re on the internet. And when you want information, or you want to post something or your phone is actually on that you’re receiving this kind of bi directional data flow, it is that it’s consistently on, you’re always in it, it isn’t a case where you have your mobile phone, you put it away, and it goes. And what that actually entails is the idea that life itself is full of sensors, your pockets will be lined with sensors, your hands will be lined with sensors, and so on so forth, so that there is a digital clone or replica of you that exists and they the system 3d world is constantly interacting and constantly doing things. Now that seems a little bit dystopian or a little bit strange. And I would argue kind of is. And that kind of brings me to my first point of kind of, well, I or at least we evolved to kind of see where the metaverse is headed. And, and to tell that kind of story, what we think is headed, I think the best way is to kind of describe the evolution of the Internet. And then another couple of buzzwords I’m sure people have been reading about in terms of web three. You know, if we look at that parallel and web three in the metaverse and mixed reality, they’re all getting conflated as concepts, and you know, just kind of spell out the difference, because that helps kind of deconstruct what’s going on here. You know, the concept of web three is that I mean, it’s, it’d be evolution. So when one was, I have a fixed line, modem internet, from a dial up rather, and I’m at my desk on a what was a desktop back in a day, and I received information, I type in a certain website, and I get information, but I can’t read it, I can only read it rather, I can’t write to it. So it was as what you need is unilateral, rather, data flow, where we have to it was then the idea kind of prospered around the boom of the mobile internet, sort of when iPhone two came out, where the idea was not only could I read content from the internet, I can write to it, I could upload images, I could upload text if I wanted to, to place like Wikipedia. And that’s the kind of current age that we’ve been in, which is if you can really imagine, let’s look at you know, any kind of one of these platforms, you are posting content and receiving content. Again, in that sense, web two is the internet. It’s the current manifestation of what we have going on. You wouldn’t say the internet is Facebook, or Instagram, to to Randy’s point from earlier, you would say it’s the collection of all individual sites. Now, web three. The idea is you can both read, write and interact with whatever is available. And that’s the key distinguishing there that you’re interacting with it because interactions don’t have to be to the master website. They can be with other users and exchange of value. And for me, this is where we start getting closer to the idea of what a future Metaverse will state will be. Because one key definition that all proponents of the metaverse say is that it must be interoperable. In other words, if I am on matters, Metaverse, or Epic Games or fortnight’s Metaverse, a true Metaverse is that the metaverse overlay is all of those I can move as my 3d identity from metters infrastructure to fortnight’s infrastructure. I have the same wallet, the same payment infrastructure, the same identity, the same track record and history things I’ve purchased in one space like fortnight to transfer directly across the matter. Now, I don’t think or believe we’ll ever get to that state of interoperability, because the product implications are ginormous, essentially, it’s very kind of basic and native state. You would have to get anyone who’s building their own version of Metaverse to agree to import all the assets that exist in a different metaverse. So easy example was gaming. If I am Riot Games, and I’ve made whatever a triple A game and whether it’s where it rockstars guns at otter, whatever it might be. I’ve sold loads of merch and loads of weapons and Avatar upgrades and things like that to my customers. But how do I persuade another production studio that has Around backlog their own tickets to go and import the things I’ve already sell to my customers unless I am financially incentivizing them, but what can I incentivize them with? Well, it’s only the money I’ve made from selling those pieces of 3d content previously. In other words, I can’t think of a we can’t think of a mechanism that actually creates the incentive structure to want these individual companies to play a unified game. So to me, and how we’ve been optimising voltar and kind of a lot of the kind of ways we see the kind of future of this is that the metaverse isn’t some black box. It isn’t something that siloed and lives in a digital state of interoperability because that feels again a little bit dystopian and just doesn’t feel realistic. To ask it is an overlay reality is the idea that I’m still transcending the physical spaces. I’m still going on my usual day going to different shops or to restaurants or whatever I might do. But I do have access to this Metaverse will stay on my phone when I so wish that can help complement experience and augment the experience. And you know that get Ben gets blurry to AR and metaverse. But it’s the idea that it’s there if you need it, but not there if you don’t want it. But

Randy Silver: 11:08
before we go too far into that space, I just want to get a couple of things straight. Yes, my son spends all of his time in Roblox and fortnight and things like that. You mentioned earlier 3d. So an interactive so he is definitely interactive. It is definitely a two dimensional interface because he’s not wearing goggles. So are they aspects of the metaverse? Are they Metaverse light? Are they what would you call those things?

Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 11:38
I would definitely lean on the metaverse like scenario. And, you know, there’s two great examples there the examples that come up a lot. You know, the fortnight’s and a lot of games come up a lot video games, because why it’s the closest parallel people can often think of right now, because, yes, you know, they are massively scaled, you have this MMO games, again, fortnight are the interoperable note, if I play one game, I can’t move all my my history and logs over to another game. So it doesn’t cross that pics. But it is real time rendered. A lot of those, you know, let’s be careful here on what people mean by 3d virtual worlds, you can be in a 3d medium in a 2d plane. So like YouTube, 360 is 3d, I can watch a video I can move around there is three dimensions that are being rendered. But I’m just viewing it in a 2d manner. So actually, a lot of games do tick that 3d box as well. But where a lot of them fall short is again, that interoperability piece that is the piece that consistently seems to kind of break down when you go further into these, these examples. Because the other things, you know, individual sense of presence, yes, I can be my own avatar, I could pick my own character I can I can often these kind of games, change how I look. And there are an unlimited number of users in most cases, maybe not unlimited. But you know, the technology has advanced significant last couple of years. So long story short, we would argue those aren’t Metaverse is a tool. Even saying it in plural doesn’t isn’t right. And it does show the community or users where we could end up and the idea then is what if I could be in fortnight, one second, and then Minecraft, the next second and be the same thing, the same one, the same wallet and same information.

Lily Smith: 13:14
So one of the things I find really curious about any sort of hyped up conceptual, technical direction is how, as a kind of an entrepreneur and a designer and a product thinker, you navigate what’s possible, and the future direction that it could go in. And also sort of what’s available now to understand where the opportunities are to serve customers in new and interesting ways. Like it sounds that you know that the space incredibly well, and you have a very strong idea of where it’s going. So with that in mind, how do you then harness that kind of that view and that knowledge to find products to build?

Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 14:06
Great question. That question has been my personal bane of my life as a Can I guess a serial founder or someone has been around enough different startups because you’re right, you don’t have a Northstar? And we’re having to constantly define one Northstar is and that is moving because yeah, the industry is changing. You know, prior startups. My last one is a retail tech, it was more of a mass acquisition play. Once we build a technology, it was a case of grow and scale and iterate and go through that classic MVP, phase, build, measure, learn, so on and so forth. But you’re right, those kinds of those kinds of growth loops or product loops. When you’re looking at a space that is trying to trying to create a Metaverse or product quite often in that learn phase. There’s last step from that iteration. You’re actually learning the sector has changed or there’s some new technology has become available and what you’ve just built and tested actually is all completely redundant. So the way we’ve gone about it and I think a lot of people for MySpace are have different approaches. By and large this one is in the working for at least US and keeps us grounded is where are we now? Where do we think we’re going to be the midterm? And what is the kind of blue sky thinking in the long run? And how we manage that, from our perspective is looking, what we do. And how we build is the kind of the short to medium run sort of a three year view. So here’s the available technologies. Here’s what my users need and want and here’s their pain points, what how can we solve that in the immediate term that actually gets us metrics? You know, we’re still VC backed, we still have targets to hit, they are more friendly, because there are deep tech investors. And they know it’s a seven to 10 year play, rather than a three to five year go down the series route and welcome scale. But yeah, so we have to hit those long term objectives to to get scale and some sort of usage. But what we’ve constantly done when we make product decisions is think, Okay, is there a way we can future proof ourselves, because the worst idea is that we’ve built a product that works really, really well in the short term. And come three years times when new technology comes out, a new startup uses that new technology and is able to disrupt what we’ve already done in just three years. And in one way we’ve done that, and to kind of share an example is a little bit of storytelling. So for example, we launched in VR Voltas, original point was, you know, you’d download an artist, the musician would download the desktop app would create a 3d interactive experience. And the user would consume this in virtual reality, because that’s where we were in March 2020, COVID happened, live events and entertainment had stopped. So VR headset adoption was skyrocketing. And we thought, well, we now have an opportunity here. And VR is finally coming out as VR winter that happened in 2016. Okay, it’s built for VR. I’m very, very, very quickly, we saw that VR was not going to get the usage that everyone had spoken of yet again, sure, the total available market started to increase as people bought headsets. But that just wasn’t the right content. For consumers. It’s great for b2b, it’s great for enterprise and training and surgicals. But it isn’t for entertainment, because entertainment is social, it isn’t for even potentially, for any kind of fitness instructions or anything like that, because you don’t know your actual real space. So upon seeing that, and seeing actually, the VR made users in a social context feel very lonely, we pivoted away from VR. And that’s a key sort of thing here. So we moved from VR to actually streaming 3d content in a 2d manner. So 3d content through YouTube consumed on a 2d plane or seeing in ideas. But while you made that decision, we knew for you we believe, at some point in the next 510 15 years, at some point, that trajectory, there will be a form of hardware that gets pushed out that will hopefully get the scale and become ubiquitous, you know, something tangential to the iPhone, and what it did for mobile internet is potentially what Apple’s working on for the new mixed reality headset, or some Augmented Reality headset or something, you know, if you just follow the kind of the plane of innovation, there’s this, there’s always been new hardware that comes out. So how we’ve hedged ourself is okay, we’re currently showing 3d content or 2d medium, we believe there’s going to be some sort of headset or some sort of device that will enable a more enriched experience at some point in the future. So every time someone, an artist rather makes an experience in volta, we’re saving all that metadata, we’re saving the entire 3d experience. And the way we then hedge ourselves says, okay, yes, fans, right now consumers medium in 2d. But once some form hardware becomes ubiquitous, we will have the biggest library of user generated 3d content, by definition in the world, because we’ve been doing it throughout every single show. And we are a mass market play. And that’s one way in which we’ve kind of got our sights on the near term, and how can we actually follow the market right now, which is in 2d, but know that something will be there in 3d in the future? How have we done it, we’ve just using a UGC library 3d content.

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Randy Silver: 20:27
And that code is go space product space lead the same as in the URL except there’s no spaces in the URL just in the code. So you’re you’re designing for now and for future adoption, you’re trying to keep an eye on both. That’s a tricky play. And as you said, you’re VC backed. And one of the things that the VCs are looking for is this elusive definition of product market fit. Yes. But you’re trying to do it in a space where the market itself is still evolving. So how do you define it? And what what is the approach that you take with your backers to say, yes, we’re on the right track. It’s can’t be just we’ve got some adoption. Now this as you said, the market is still really evolving.

Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 21:17
Yeah, I think from from a VC perspective, the short answer is perceived market share. That is the metric that they are targeting when they look at these kind of nascent markets with little proof points, and no real understanding of where they can go and where their true value and application lies. And that is admittedly quite a woolly metric. Because how would you define a perceived market share? What even is the market and therefore how can you have a share of it? And therefore it comes down to things like how many events are done in a given year? That are Metaverse or metaverse? Like, how many of them? Did you do? Okay, that is next percentage of what we see is available in the market. It’s things like share with press with enough as a metric that comes out how much share are you getting? Are you a startup is punching above your weight, or is the Microsoft’s and the matters of the world still taking dominance. And therefore we should see that as a perceived risk, because you’re not getting the coverage user is these kinds of William metrics, but it gets harder for us, because we’re already stage. And we’re going into, you know, a round and, you know, being touted that the metric we need to do is actually see market share, but getting more granular within it, it’s still the metric of growth, you know, they still want to see 20%, minimum month to month growth, ideally 30% growth of what it is usage, you know, it is up to us to define what that is in the context of voltar. It’s, it’s shows and those shows could be either live in a venue, like an actual concert, could be live streamed, or both. And when we do the hybrid event is when we get really excited, because that is very true to our proposition of marrying the physical world and the digital world. But it is tough to find that market. And, you know, we personally are introducing a lot of gaming mechanics that have existed in the gaming space now for about five or 10 years, one of them being in app payments, you know, the Candy Crush model of, I can pay an extra two pounds and have another life or I can get some special weapons or whatever it might be. We’re using that same mechanics and applying it to the music space for us, it’s become an incentive for users to want to watch the experience as opposed to just listening to it. So we are looking at a lot of gaming metrics. And that’s another way that this has been kind of unfolding, which is okay, look at your closest market what sort of business model you’re operating in. Can we draw parallels from a market that we already somewhat understand and already exists in the context of the metaverse but gaming is the closest thing to the metaverse Summit, it’s often those proof points, or those metrics that we will use and ground ourselves within. Because again, gaming is consumers short at the same sector. We are leveraging on micropayments model. So that’s the space we look closely to. But it is hard when the market is shifting and evolving. And, you know, I think these metrics or ways of approaching them, they can work. And in the context of VR, which I started with. Luckily, it didn’t work because actually where the market has moved is now pretty much entirely b2b. And you’ve got the even the matters of the world pushed doubling down on b2b and competing with HTC and these other players in that space.

Lily Smith: 24:15
It feels like there’s like a whole new genre of products that will come about as part of these meta versal type experiences and platforms. One of the lessons we’ve learned, I guess, from like, social media platforms and in the introduction of those is this like ethical point of view of, you know, how do we juggle encouraging use with a healthy like mindset towards digital consumption or and that kind of thing? Is there anything from a kind of meta versal sort of space and an ethical sort of standpoint that you’ve had to like think about in the products or the experiences that you’re thinking about from from Voltas point of view, or just, you know, in the sort of broader meta versal area?

Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 25:14
Great question. It certainly comes up a lot. And, you know, one company Northstar is again, this, this feels like almost a digging session and matter. But one, you know, one Northstar, we had or at least a huge mission statement, when we first started building volta, we knew what we were signing up for, you know, ultimately, take what I said earlier, in terms of, you know, we hedge ourselves by creating this 3d library of user generated content such that it’s ready to deploy on whatever hardware there’ll be, well, you don’t get too far away from the idea of simulation theory, or at least being able to walk through the streets of New York and decide today, I want to be in the psychedelic jungle instead. And you have this pre loaded library that is about this other world. And knowing that that’s where this could inevitably head is, of course, a little bit scary. It’s a sentiment that we think someone’s going to do this anyway. So yes, ethics plays a huge part in what we do and how we build. From the very beginning. Like I said, the mission statement was we will never sell ads period, we will never optimise for addiction. We don’t want people to be stuck in these places and trying to to be all consumed. The interesting parallel point is we do optimise for engagement. Now what do those two different things mean? And this goes back to where I first started about the progression of the internet, from web one to web two to three. And this concept about data ownership data privacy actually is more of a web three, philosophical statement than it actually is something to the metaverse and, you know, it’s being driven by culture by Gen Z by some of the things that come out from meta by the whole point on push from apple into secure privacy. And that’s the idea that users should own their own content, they should own their own data. And instead, so choose, they want to be monetized from that. So how that’s played into voltar is, you know, fans and the way we monetize as fans pay for interactions, they pay to change the experience, they’re watching me check, they pay for the artists and musician to do something. So their choice, we don’t monetize them, they choose if they want to contribute to it. Now, of course, optimising for engagement in that scenario means we need to make those interactions really compelling and exciting. But the point there is, is a genuine value exchange, you know, you’re not kind of getting people hooked on your product, getting to view content, and then throwing ads in their face every second. It’s a case of if you’d like we were doing complaint, if you don’t don’t which again, is a gaming philosophy. That’s why gaming does come through a lot into these kinds of these kinds of pieces. You know, the other side is that often the metaverse another word that comes through is in a decentralised autonomous organisation. Dao is kind of the buzzword that people are an acronym of people through. And you know, whilst ethically that’s amazing, it’s people control the mechanism they’re watching, they control the experience or the product itself, and they have a voting structure. And that’s where, you know, various proof of work or proof of steak Kryptos come into play, where you have your dollars around a company, and people have ownership of certain tokens actually get a stake and a voice in the future of that company. That also brings us own ethical challenges, because it’s unmoderated and if it’s bi directional content, there’s another funny concept we have called funny enough in the sort of content space called times a penis, which is quite literally how long it takes when you have an unmoderated system where you can upload content that someone will put a dick pic in, in your system. And that again presents problems right? Because it doesn’t have to be TTP, which actually is a dove acronym, no joke for this thing. So yes, it’s in terms of TTP, it’s not some some acronym. I’ve just sort of made up as a genuine game developer acronym for this exact thing. And the problem gets compounded with things like hate crime, and, you know, rude imagery of all sorts of nature. That itself is a problem. And we know if we want to have a truly Metaverse experience, we have to also build a very sophisticated piece of moderation software that can plough through all the pieces that’s been uploaded and make sure it’s safe for the viewers to watch. And yeah, one of the other challenges is not just a case of you know what content is being uploaded and consumed by other members of your Dow or Metaverse or experience I quite like that word these days. Just click experience. But it’s also around the point that not only moderation is content but moderation of users, users are talking to one another. You have that classic sort of forum like system with chat. How do you stop someone who’s potentially significantly older from interacting with someone’s potentially significantly younger? Now of course, you have safety blocks and you have other systems but those safety blocks work when you have a closed system. People within matter know how old their subscribers are by their birth but by their users are by their birth yet. But once you start opening up your system and become Open System, which is truly what needs to happen, the metaverse, these type of information exchanges get harder and harder. And, you know, we even actually have quite significant laws in place that actually prohibit these things like GDPR. And these are some of the really, truly massive questions that need answering for any of these things to actually accelerate and actually become what is truly a metaverse.

Lily Smith: 30:20
So it sounds like there’s some massive challenges with building products for metaphysical type experiences. And you’ve talked about some of them around interoperability, as well as the kind of ethical questions that you’ve just covered there. But if there is anyone that hasn’t been put off yet, by those and is still really interested, are there any other kind of areas that people should really watch out for when they’re thinking about doing more in this space?

Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 30:49
Yeah, I think, you know, this isn’t to scare anyone away. It truly is a really, really exciting space space, the pace of innovation is astronomical. And there’s a lot of deep thinkers that are involved. You know, the learnings you come across a truly inspirational, and you know, that in itself, it’s really of kind of a high pace and exciting place. But, you know, other challenges, they’re a little bit more second order. Of course, hardware. You know, if you’re thinking through some of the metaverse product is the hardware out there that might support your use case. You know, consumer facing hardware can be VR headsets, mobile phones, haptic gloves, so you can actually feel things. Enterprise hardware could be hardware, it’s allowing you to create virtual or AR based environments like industrial cameras, projection, tracking system, scanning sensors, all this kind of stuff. So, you know, you need to be honestly thinking, first and foremost, do I have the hardware out there to support this? VR there is now a market it is a bit niche. But you know, if you’re thinking through something like that, the markets have bought that. But a lot of those hardware technologies are still a little behind the curve. And we’re only starting to see those catch up. Networking. You know, the definition of Metaverse being persistent means you need a high quality, real time connection, which ideally has some sort of decentralised data transmission. The idea of going through a fixed line network and current broadband probably won’t work if you have an outage. And this thing needs to be offline the whole time. And then there’s other pieces. You know, there’s computing power a lot of the metaverse because it’s 3d, you know, it’s live rendering a 3d environment means you often need high computational power and high graphically. GPUs great, great graphic computation power, virtual platforms, do they exist? Can they support you’re doing is there? Is there an interchange of tools and standards? You know, we have dot jpg dot pings for images. We’ve got dot mp4 and stuff videos, but we have nothing when it comes to a Metaverse and what the common file format should be.

Randy Silver: 32:40
Mitch, we’ve only got time for one more question. This has been fantastic. And the follows neatly from what you were just talking about. But you’re working with both creators, who some of who are early adopters, you know, we’re playing around with all this. And with consumers, you know, people who are consuming the content, who, again, are fairly early adopters in many cases. But you’re trying to plan for more mass market adoption on this. How do you do research with these types of personas, where most Europe to potential market is even considering this yet?

Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 33:18
Another great question. I think, on our perspective, weirdly enough, artists are less of an early adopter and consumers I think passion is not so weird, especially in the music space, because the barriers to entry for musicians is really low. You know, anyone could be a vocalist, it doesn’t mean that to be any good. And anyone can play the drums doesn’t mean they’re good at playing the drums. But they still are playing the drums and singing. And in that space, people are consistently trying to outcompete one another. How do I stand out from the crowd? Knowing that maybe these this day and age, it’s not as simple as just making a track or releasing a single, I actually have to do something with it. So on the artist side, we’ve actually optimised this whole Metaverse or 3d content for the artist, they are more interested in that they want to stand out and they want to create a new form of content or medium that actually speaks to their consumers. So in that vein, our tool is what does the whole 3d piece it’s a standalone software that artists download and have their mixed reality version of Photoshop. So with them, it’s the usual kind of research sessions, you know, we see a minimum of five artists a week, we will sit them down with a tool, do the classic sort of research exercises. And of course, run quantitative surveys on our user base, which are artists. The consumer side, you’re exactly right. You know, when we were building this experience, so that again, desktop tool for the artists they project or broadcast the experience, and originally it was to VR consumers who were in VR didn’t understand what they needed to do because they didn’t know what could be done. And that was a problem in itself. But we move to 2d so YouTube and Twitch and Facebook Live and tick tock are all primary channels now, because consumers are not one the wiser as to what medium they’re consuming. To them. It’s video It just looks like really exciting flashy video. And they can use chat and consumers already used a chat on Twitch. Currently they interact with the artists directly. And the answers will pick up what they’re saying in chat and kind of call it out during the Twitch session, we’re automating that, really, we’re taking those key words and those chat commands and turning those into predefined interactions. Like, I type in the word volta, and a big volta logo comes on the screen explodes, spins around in 3d and disappears again. So that’s how we’ve currently gone about it, which is give the consumers what they already know, because educating consumers in a mass fashion is a very expensive marketing efforts, at the very least, let alone trying to get research and qualified research back from them. But on the artist side, that’s where we do a lot of heavy lifting. You know, and if you go down the artist adoption curve, and this is what we’ve been doing slowly over time, your top tier artists, the ones who’ve already been doing these things, the Travis Scott to the world the Justin Bieber’s, and those kinds of people, they know this space, and their teams are very equipped with it. But as we’ve been slowly picking away and going down the classic pyramid from high tier artists and mid tier artists to club DJs, and so on, so forth. We’re seeing these nuances appear more and more and more, we benchmark them to what we know some of the spaces already done. And that means that we’re qualifying our research at every step, and we only move kind of down the ladder, if we know what we’re picking up to qualified.

Randy Silver: 36:20
Okay, so I appreciate all that, but it makes me think we missed a trick and that we’re not cool enough because we didn’t do this episode in Volta.

Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 36:30
That would have been that would have video on for that one. To really see it or its might but you know, there could always be a showdown next year, if you guys are planning to release a video, and we could wrap the whole thing and use all of our audio to drive different things involved.

Lily Smith: 36:48
That sounds amazing.

Randy Silver: 36:50
Yeah, we’ll see if people demand an encore. Maybe we’ll have to

Lily Smith: 36:53
do. Well, that’d be a pleasure. Mitch, it’s been so great talking to you today on the podcast. Thanks so much for joining us.

Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 37:02
Thank you so much for having me. It’s been amazing.

Lily Smith: 37:14
The product experience is the first and the best podcast for mine the product. Our hosts are me Lily Smith, and me Randy silver. Louron Pratt is our producer and Luke Smith is our editor.

Randy Silver: 37:29
Our theme music is from Hamburg baseband pow. That’s P AU. Thanks to Arnie killer who curates both product tank and MTP engage in Hamburg and who also plays bass in the band for letting us use their music. You can connect with your local product community via product tank regular free meetups in over 200 cities worldwide.

Lily Smith: 37:50
If there’s not one near you, maybe you should think about starting one. To find out more go to mind the product.com forward slash product tank

What is the Metaverse and how can it help product managers in their daily craft? To help us make sense of the movement, Lily and Randy talked with Mitchell Bayer-Goldman to help us unpack all of the buzzwords and complexities about The Metaverse, and why we as product managers should note of where the concept is going. Bonus points for how many times we mention the word "Metaverse"!
   

Featured links

Featured Links: Follow Mitchell on LinkedIn and Twitter | Volta | Matthew Ball on The Metaverse | Listen to this episode on Youtube! 
Lily Smith: 0:00 Randy, I'm so excited. I've heard about this newfangled thing. I think it's going to be massive. I think we should get in early and build some products for it. Randy Silver: 0:10 Oh, you must be talking about my space. Yeah, it's gonna be massive. I mean, I've already got this friend on it. He's named Tom. Lily Smith: 0:19 There actually, I was referring to them meta bass. Randy Silver: 0:23 Move to the metaverse. Really? I mean, that's never gonna happen. Lily Smith: 0:31 Well, actually, I'm not sure you or I could claim to be in the know enough to have a solid opinion on this, which is why I invited Michel Bayer Goldman, co founder of Valter XR to spill the beans on what the metaverse is, what it will be, and how we can build products on it or in it or for it. Randy Silver: 0:50 Oh, wait. Okay, I watched imaging heaps video that was done using voltar. That was actually pretty cool. But is that really metaverse? Lily Smith: 1:02 I have no idea. But you'll learn all about that. And also what TTP stands for and why that's important. If you listen on Wait, Randy Silver: 1:11 wait, what is TTP you gotta tell me tell me now. Lily Smith: 1:20 The product experience is brought to you by mind the product. Randy Silver: 1:23 Every week, we talk to the best product people from around the globe about how we can improve our practice and build products that people love. Lily Smith: 1:31 Because it mind the product.com to catch up on past episodes and to discover an extensive library of great content and videos, Randy Silver: 1:39 browse for free, or become a minor product member to unlock premium articles, unseen videos, AMA's roundtables, discounts to our conferences around the world training opportunities. Lily Smith: 1:52 Mine the product also offers free product tank meetups in more than 200 cities. And there's probably one near you. Hi, Mitch, so nice to welcome you today on the product experience podcast. Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 2:07 Thank you very much lovely to be here. Lily Smith: 2:09 So before we get into our topic today, it'd be a nice if you could give us a real quick intro to who you are and your background in product. Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 2:18 Sure. So my name is Mitchell Bayer-Goldman. I'm part of the Co-founder and CEO of Voltar XR. My background and product I guess started when I worked in management business when I was 16. And scaled up as sort of a back end system that helped manage payment infrastructure and deal flow. I then actually went to investment banking, so maybe not as pertinent in terms of this particular conversation, but definitely shaped a lot of my experience. And then for the last six or seven years, I this is my second tech startup I've co founded, I advise sort of five or six other startups and we've been a head of growth at olio. So I've had the pleasure of seeing lots of different startups, lots and lots of different stages, rally stage all the way through to Series C and got to work months, very, very, very different and unique products. Lily Smith: 3:08 And so speaking about the products that you've been working on more recently at voltar XR, we are talking today about Metaverse a little bit about what filter XR is, and also what your kind of take is on the metaverse because that's our sort of topic for today. So let's kick off with like, what is the metaverse Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 3:32 so straight to a very expansive and undefined, undefined question. For the kill, I mean the tackle I guess the easier bit from my perspective, you know, in terms of what I'm up to volta, and how that's kind of involved in the metaverse and can then kind of cover a little bit more on the metaverse what it and what it is itself. Volta is essentially a way for musicians for artists to create their own 3d interactive experiences. What does that mouthful actually mean? We've essentially created a tool that allows any creator to download from our website itself surf, and it's sort of like a Squarespace or a Photoshop for specifically for musicians. So they can drag in palm trees and spaceships and create their own sort of 3d scene as it were, and then essentially allow any of those 3d objects to be already wrapped up. So if I was to speak, they could move if I was to play some sort of baseline of I'm a DJ. Those objects could explode and shatter and new elements have come in and new videos can loop. So that's what we've been up to. And, you know, have seen in this three years, I've been working on volta kind of what life was like pre Metaverse, or at least Metaverse, kind of blowing up in the in the press and what it's been like post and we actually got to see that firsthand. We went through Tech Stars back in 2021. But that kind of I guess quite nicely leads me on to what even is the metaverse and, you know, there is this someone that I really look up to in this Bass, who's quite prolific and his name's Matthew ball and I'll start with his interpretation or his his his definition, the metaverse, which is what's quite broadly been defined the press and quite a lot of people subscribe to, and I'll give my take on it in terms of what I think where we where we are on the journey and what I think we're I think we're headed, but his definition of verbatim is at the metaverse is a massively scaled and interoperable network of real time rendered 3d virtual worlds, which can be experienced synchronously and persistently by an effectively unlimited number of users with an individual sense of presence and with a continuity of data, such as identity, history, entitlements, objects, communications and payments. Now, there is a lot of buzzwords in there. Randy Silver: 5:47 There's something I didn't hear him say, I did not hear Him, say Facebook meta or Mark Zuckerberg. Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 5:54 Specifically, I think you'll hear a lot of us in the industry say that well leave out those references quite deliberately, intentionally. And yeah, there's good rationale as to why and look, you know, to unpack what I just said there in terms of what was again, full of acronyms and buzzwords. You know, really, I think the kind of key building blocks is that within the metaverse, it is this persistent state. So it's not a case of where you're on the internet. And when you want information, or you want to post something or your phone is actually on that you're receiving this kind of bi directional data flow, it is that it's consistently on, you're always in it, it isn't a case where you have your mobile phone, you put it away, and it goes. And what that actually entails is the idea that life itself is full of sensors, your pockets will be lined with sensors, your hands will be lined with sensors, and so on so forth, so that there is a digital clone or replica of you that exists and they the system 3d world is constantly interacting and constantly doing things. Now that seems a little bit dystopian or a little bit strange. And I would argue kind of is. And that kind of brings me to my first point of kind of, well, I or at least we evolved to kind of see where the metaverse is headed. And, and to tell that kind of story, what we think is headed, I think the best way is to kind of describe the evolution of the Internet. And then another couple of buzzwords I'm sure people have been reading about in terms of web three. You know, if we look at that parallel and web three in the metaverse and mixed reality, they're all getting conflated as concepts, and you know, just kind of spell out the difference, because that helps kind of deconstruct what's going on here. You know, the concept of web three is that I mean, it's, it'd be evolution. So when one was, I have a fixed line, modem internet, from a dial up rather, and I'm at my desk on a what was a desktop back in a day, and I received information, I type in a certain website, and I get information, but I can't read it, I can only read it rather, I can't write to it. So it was as what you need is unilateral, rather, data flow, where we have to it was then the idea kind of prospered around the boom of the mobile internet, sort of when iPhone two came out, where the idea was not only could I read content from the internet, I can write to it, I could upload images, I could upload text if I wanted to, to place like Wikipedia. And that's the kind of current age that we've been in, which is if you can really imagine, let's look at you know, any kind of one of these platforms, you are posting content and receiving content. Again, in that sense, web two is the internet. It's the current manifestation of what we have going on. You wouldn't say the internet is Facebook, or Instagram, to to Randy's point from earlier, you would say it's the collection of all individual sites. Now, web three. The idea is you can both read, write and interact with whatever is available. And that's the key distinguishing there that you're interacting with it because interactions don't have to be to the master website. They can be with other users and exchange of value. And for me, this is where we start getting closer to the idea of what a future Metaverse will state will be. Because one key definition that all proponents of the metaverse say is that it must be interoperable. In other words, if I am on matters, Metaverse, or Epic Games or fortnight's Metaverse, a true Metaverse is that the metaverse overlay is all of those I can move as my 3d identity from metters infrastructure to fortnight's infrastructure. I have the same wallet, the same payment infrastructure, the same identity, the same track record and history things I've purchased in one space like fortnight to transfer directly across the matter. Now, I don't think or believe we'll ever get to that state of interoperability, because the product implications are ginormous, essentially, it's very kind of basic and native state. You would have to get anyone who's building their own version of Metaverse to agree to import all the assets that exist in a different metaverse. So easy example was gaming. If I am Riot Games, and I've made whatever a triple A game and whether it's where it rockstars guns at otter, whatever it might be. I've sold loads of merch and loads of weapons and Avatar upgrades and things like that to my customers. But how do I persuade another production studio that has Around backlog their own tickets to go and import the things I've already sell to my customers unless I am financially incentivizing them, but what can I incentivize them with? Well, it's only the money I've made from selling those pieces of 3d content previously. In other words, I can't think of a we can't think of a mechanism that actually creates the incentive structure to want these individual companies to play a unified game. So to me, and how we've been optimising voltar and kind of a lot of the kind of ways we see the kind of future of this is that the metaverse isn't some black box. It isn't something that siloed and lives in a digital state of interoperability because that feels again a little bit dystopian and just doesn't feel realistic. To ask it is an overlay reality is the idea that I'm still transcending the physical spaces. I'm still going on my usual day going to different shops or to restaurants or whatever I might do. But I do have access to this Metaverse will stay on my phone when I so wish that can help complement experience and augment the experience. And you know that get Ben gets blurry to AR and metaverse. But it's the idea that it's there if you need it, but not there if you don't want it. But Randy Silver: 11:08 before we go too far into that space, I just want to get a couple of things straight. Yes, my son spends all of his time in Roblox and fortnight and things like that. You mentioned earlier 3d. So an interactive so he is definitely interactive. It is definitely a two dimensional interface because he's not wearing goggles. So are they aspects of the metaverse? Are they Metaverse light? Are they what would you call those things? Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 11:38 I would definitely lean on the metaverse like scenario. And, you know, there's two great examples there the examples that come up a lot. You know, the fortnight's and a lot of games come up a lot video games, because why it's the closest parallel people can often think of right now, because, yes, you know, they are massively scaled, you have this MMO games, again, fortnight are the interoperable note, if I play one game, I can't move all my my history and logs over to another game. So it doesn't cross that pics. But it is real time rendered. A lot of those, you know, let's be careful here on what people mean by 3d virtual worlds, you can be in a 3d medium in a 2d plane. So like YouTube, 360 is 3d, I can watch a video I can move around there is three dimensions that are being rendered. But I'm just viewing it in a 2d manner. So actually, a lot of games do tick that 3d box as well. But where a lot of them fall short is again, that interoperability piece that is the piece that consistently seems to kind of break down when you go further into these, these examples. Because the other things, you know, individual sense of presence, yes, I can be my own avatar, I could pick my own character I can I can often these kind of games, change how I look. And there are an unlimited number of users in most cases, maybe not unlimited. But you know, the technology has advanced significant last couple of years. So long story short, we would argue those aren't Metaverse is a tool. Even saying it in plural doesn't isn't right. And it does show the community or users where we could end up and the idea then is what if I could be in fortnight, one second, and then Minecraft, the next second and be the same thing, the same one, the same wallet and same information. Lily Smith: 13:14 So one of the things I find really curious about any sort of hyped up conceptual, technical direction is how, as a kind of an entrepreneur and a designer and a product thinker, you navigate what's possible, and the future direction that it could go in. And also sort of what's available now to understand where the opportunities are to serve customers in new and interesting ways. Like it sounds that you know that the space incredibly well, and you have a very strong idea of where it's going. So with that in mind, how do you then harness that kind of that view and that knowledge to find products to build? Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 14:06 Great question. That question has been my personal bane of my life as a Can I guess a serial founder or someone has been around enough different startups because you're right, you don't have a Northstar? And we're having to constantly define one Northstar is and that is moving because yeah, the industry is changing. You know, prior startups. My last one is a retail tech, it was more of a mass acquisition play. Once we build a technology, it was a case of grow and scale and iterate and go through that classic MVP, phase, build, measure, learn, so on and so forth. But you're right, those kinds of those kinds of growth loops or product loops. When you're looking at a space that is trying to trying to create a Metaverse or product quite often in that learn phase. There's last step from that iteration. You're actually learning the sector has changed or there's some new technology has become available and what you've just built and tested actually is all completely redundant. So the way we've gone about it and I think a lot of people for MySpace are have different approaches. By and large this one is in the working for at least US and keeps us grounded is where are we now? Where do we think we're going to be the midterm? And what is the kind of blue sky thinking in the long run? And how we manage that, from our perspective is looking, what we do. And how we build is the kind of the short to medium run sort of a three year view. So here's the available technologies. Here's what my users need and want and here's their pain points, what how can we solve that in the immediate term that actually gets us metrics? You know, we're still VC backed, we still have targets to hit, they are more friendly, because there are deep tech investors. And they know it's a seven to 10 year play, rather than a three to five year go down the series route and welcome scale. But yeah, so we have to hit those long term objectives to to get scale and some sort of usage. But what we've constantly done when we make product decisions is think, Okay, is there a way we can future proof ourselves, because the worst idea is that we've built a product that works really, really well in the short term. And come three years times when new technology comes out, a new startup uses that new technology and is able to disrupt what we've already done in just three years. And in one way we've done that, and to kind of share an example is a little bit of storytelling. So for example, we launched in VR Voltas, original point was, you know, you'd download an artist, the musician would download the desktop app would create a 3d interactive experience. And the user would consume this in virtual reality, because that's where we were in March 2020, COVID happened, live events and entertainment had stopped. So VR headset adoption was skyrocketing. And we thought, well, we now have an opportunity here. And VR is finally coming out as VR winter that happened in 2016. Okay, it's built for VR. I'm very, very, very quickly, we saw that VR was not going to get the usage that everyone had spoken of yet again, sure, the total available market started to increase as people bought headsets. But that just wasn't the right content. For consumers. It's great for b2b, it's great for enterprise and training and surgicals. But it isn't for entertainment, because entertainment is social, it isn't for even potentially, for any kind of fitness instructions or anything like that, because you don't know your actual real space. So upon seeing that, and seeing actually, the VR made users in a social context feel very lonely, we pivoted away from VR. And that's a key sort of thing here. So we moved from VR to actually streaming 3d content in a 2d manner. So 3d content through YouTube consumed on a 2d plane or seeing in ideas. But while you made that decision, we knew for you we believe, at some point in the next 510 15 years, at some point, that trajectory, there will be a form of hardware that gets pushed out that will hopefully get the scale and become ubiquitous, you know, something tangential to the iPhone, and what it did for mobile internet is potentially what Apple's working on for the new mixed reality headset, or some Augmented Reality headset or something, you know, if you just follow the kind of the plane of innovation, there's this, there's always been new hardware that comes out. So how we've hedged ourself is okay, we're currently showing 3d content or 2d medium, we believe there's going to be some sort of headset or some sort of device that will enable a more enriched experience at some point in the future. So every time someone, an artist rather makes an experience in volta, we're saving all that metadata, we're saving the entire 3d experience. And the way we then hedge ourselves says, okay, yes, fans, right now consumers medium in 2d. But once some form hardware becomes ubiquitous, we will have the biggest library of user generated 3d content, by definition in the world, because we've been doing it throughout every single show. And we are a mass market play. And that's one way in which we've kind of got our sights on the near term, and how can we actually follow the market right now, which is in 2d, but know that something will be there in 3d in the future? How have we done it, we've just using a UGC library 3d content. Randy Silver: 18:58 We talked about product lead strategies a lot at mind the product, the idea is that the product just isn't part of the customer experience is the customer experience. Ultimately being product LED means the product becomes the vehicle for acquiring and retaining customers, driving growth, and influencing organisational priorities. Lily Smith: 19:19 That being product LED is more than just a buzzword. It takes real effort and practice and has the power to transform your business. Randy Silver: 19:26 To help you kickstart or accelerate your product lead journey minded product are excited to announce a brand new certification course all about what it takes to be product led, Lily Smith: 19:36 brought to you in partnership with Pendo. This online course will help you deepen your understanding of product lead strategies, and what it means to put the product at the centre of your organisation, Randy Silver: 19:46 your tactics and best practices you can use to take your company and your career to the next level. Lily Smith: 19:52 You can expect three hours of engaging instructor led videos, Randy Silver: 19:57 seven educational modules on the most impact Written topics in product led growth, Lily Smith: 20:02 a curriculum developed by industry leaders and product led experts, which sounds awesome. Randy Silver: 20:08 And an optional exam to check your knowledge and earn a certification batch, Lily Smith: 20:12 the course is usually $149. But you can get it for free for a limited time. Oh, MD, use the code go product lead to register now at mine the product.com forward slash go product lead. Randy Silver: 20:27 And that code is go space product space lead the same as in the URL except there's no spaces in the URL just in the code. So you're you're designing for now and for future adoption, you're trying to keep an eye on both. That's a tricky play. And as you said, you're VC backed. And one of the things that the VCs are looking for is this elusive definition of product market fit. Yes. But you're trying to do it in a space where the market itself is still evolving. So how do you define it? And what what is the approach that you take with your backers to say, yes, we're on the right track. It's can't be just we've got some adoption. Now this as you said, the market is still really evolving. Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 21:17 Yeah, I think from from a VC perspective, the short answer is perceived market share. That is the metric that they are targeting when they look at these kind of nascent markets with little proof points, and no real understanding of where they can go and where their true value and application lies. And that is admittedly quite a woolly metric. Because how would you define a perceived market share? What even is the market and therefore how can you have a share of it? And therefore it comes down to things like how many events are done in a given year? That are Metaverse or metaverse? Like, how many of them? Did you do? Okay, that is next percentage of what we see is available in the market. It's things like share with press with enough as a metric that comes out how much share are you getting? Are you a startup is punching above your weight, or is the Microsoft's and the matters of the world still taking dominance. And therefore we should see that as a perceived risk, because you're not getting the coverage user is these kinds of William metrics, but it gets harder for us, because we're already stage. And we're going into, you know, a round and, you know, being touted that the metric we need to do is actually see market share, but getting more granular within it, it's still the metric of growth, you know, they still want to see 20%, minimum month to month growth, ideally 30% growth of what it is usage, you know, it is up to us to define what that is in the context of voltar. It's, it's shows and those shows could be either live in a venue, like an actual concert, could be live streamed, or both. And when we do the hybrid event is when we get really excited, because that is very true to our proposition of marrying the physical world and the digital world. But it is tough to find that market. And, you know, we personally are introducing a lot of gaming mechanics that have existed in the gaming space now for about five or 10 years, one of them being in app payments, you know, the Candy Crush model of, I can pay an extra two pounds and have another life or I can get some special weapons or whatever it might be. We're using that same mechanics and applying it to the music space for us, it's become an incentive for users to want to watch the experience as opposed to just listening to it. So we are looking at a lot of gaming metrics. And that's another way that this has been kind of unfolding, which is okay, look at your closest market what sort of business model you're operating in. Can we draw parallels from a market that we already somewhat understand and already exists in the context of the metaverse but gaming is the closest thing to the metaverse Summit, it's often those proof points, or those metrics that we will use and ground ourselves within. Because again, gaming is consumers short at the same sector. We are leveraging on micropayments model. So that's the space we look closely to. But it is hard when the market is shifting and evolving. And, you know, I think these metrics or ways of approaching them, they can work. And in the context of VR, which I started with. Luckily, it didn't work because actually where the market has moved is now pretty much entirely b2b. And you've got the even the matters of the world pushed doubling down on b2b and competing with HTC and these other players in that space. Lily Smith: 24:15 It feels like there's like a whole new genre of products that will come about as part of these meta versal type experiences and platforms. One of the lessons we've learned, I guess, from like, social media platforms and in the introduction of those is this like ethical point of view of, you know, how do we juggle encouraging use with a healthy like mindset towards digital consumption or and that kind of thing? Is there anything from a kind of meta versal sort of space and an ethical sort of standpoint that you've had to like think about in the products or the experiences that you're thinking about from from Voltas point of view, or just, you know, in the sort of broader meta versal area? Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 25:14 Great question. It certainly comes up a lot. And, you know, one company Northstar is again, this, this feels like almost a digging session and matter. But one, you know, one Northstar, we had or at least a huge mission statement, when we first started building volta, we knew what we were signing up for, you know, ultimately, take what I said earlier, in terms of, you know, we hedge ourselves by creating this 3d library of user generated content such that it's ready to deploy on whatever hardware there'll be, well, you don't get too far away from the idea of simulation theory, or at least being able to walk through the streets of New York and decide today, I want to be in the psychedelic jungle instead. And you have this pre loaded library that is about this other world. And knowing that that's where this could inevitably head is, of course, a little bit scary. It's a sentiment that we think someone's going to do this anyway. So yes, ethics plays a huge part in what we do and how we build. From the very beginning. Like I said, the mission statement was we will never sell ads period, we will never optimise for addiction. We don't want people to be stuck in these places and trying to to be all consumed. The interesting parallel point is we do optimise for engagement. Now what do those two different things mean? And this goes back to where I first started about the progression of the internet, from web one to web two to three. And this concept about data ownership data privacy actually is more of a web three, philosophical statement than it actually is something to the metaverse and, you know, it's being driven by culture by Gen Z by some of the things that come out from meta by the whole point on push from apple into secure privacy. And that's the idea that users should own their own content, they should own their own data. And instead, so choose, they want to be monetized from that. So how that's played into voltar is, you know, fans and the way we monetize as fans pay for interactions, they pay to change the experience, they're watching me check, they pay for the artists and musician to do something. So their choice, we don't monetize them, they choose if they want to contribute to it. Now, of course, optimising for engagement in that scenario means we need to make those interactions really compelling and exciting. But the point there is, is a genuine value exchange, you know, you're not kind of getting people hooked on your product, getting to view content, and then throwing ads in their face every second. It's a case of if you'd like we were doing complaint, if you don't don't which again, is a gaming philosophy. That's why gaming does come through a lot into these kinds of these kinds of pieces. You know, the other side is that often the metaverse another word that comes through is in a decentralised autonomous organisation. Dao is kind of the buzzword that people are an acronym of people through. And you know, whilst ethically that's amazing, it's people control the mechanism they're watching, they control the experience or the product itself, and they have a voting structure. And that's where, you know, various proof of work or proof of steak Kryptos come into play, where you have your dollars around a company, and people have ownership of certain tokens actually get a stake and a voice in the future of that company. That also brings us own ethical challenges, because it's unmoderated and if it's bi directional content, there's another funny concept we have called funny enough in the sort of content space called times a penis, which is quite literally how long it takes when you have an unmoderated system where you can upload content that someone will put a dick pic in, in your system. And that again presents problems right? Because it doesn't have to be TTP, which actually is a dove acronym, no joke for this thing. So yes, it's in terms of TTP, it's not some some acronym. I've just sort of made up as a genuine game developer acronym for this exact thing. And the problem gets compounded with things like hate crime, and, you know, rude imagery of all sorts of nature. That itself is a problem. And we know if we want to have a truly Metaverse experience, we have to also build a very sophisticated piece of moderation software that can plough through all the pieces that's been uploaded and make sure it's safe for the viewers to watch. And yeah, one of the other challenges is not just a case of you know what content is being uploaded and consumed by other members of your Dow or Metaverse or experience I quite like that word these days. Just click experience. But it's also around the point that not only moderation is content but moderation of users, users are talking to one another. You have that classic sort of forum like system with chat. How do you stop someone who's potentially significantly older from interacting with someone's potentially significantly younger? Now of course, you have safety blocks and you have other systems but those safety blocks work when you have a closed system. People within matter know how old their subscribers are by their birth but by their users are by their birth yet. But once you start opening up your system and become Open System, which is truly what needs to happen, the metaverse, these type of information exchanges get harder and harder. And, you know, we even actually have quite significant laws in place that actually prohibit these things like GDPR. And these are some of the really, truly massive questions that need answering for any of these things to actually accelerate and actually become what is truly a metaverse. Lily Smith: 30:20 So it sounds like there's some massive challenges with building products for metaphysical type experiences. And you've talked about some of them around interoperability, as well as the kind of ethical questions that you've just covered there. But if there is anyone that hasn't been put off yet, by those and is still really interested, are there any other kind of areas that people should really watch out for when they're thinking about doing more in this space? Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 30:49 Yeah, I think, you know, this isn't to scare anyone away. It truly is a really, really exciting space space, the pace of innovation is astronomical. And there's a lot of deep thinkers that are involved. You know, the learnings you come across a truly inspirational, and you know, that in itself, it's really of kind of a high pace and exciting place. But, you know, other challenges, they're a little bit more second order. Of course, hardware. You know, if you're thinking through some of the metaverse product is the hardware out there that might support your use case. You know, consumer facing hardware can be VR headsets, mobile phones, haptic gloves, so you can actually feel things. Enterprise hardware could be hardware, it's allowing you to create virtual or AR based environments like industrial cameras, projection, tracking system, scanning sensors, all this kind of stuff. So, you know, you need to be honestly thinking, first and foremost, do I have the hardware out there to support this? VR there is now a market it is a bit niche. But you know, if you're thinking through something like that, the markets have bought that. But a lot of those hardware technologies are still a little behind the curve. And we're only starting to see those catch up. Networking. You know, the definition of Metaverse being persistent means you need a high quality, real time connection, which ideally has some sort of decentralised data transmission. The idea of going through a fixed line network and current broadband probably won't work if you have an outage. And this thing needs to be offline the whole time. And then there's other pieces. You know, there's computing power a lot of the metaverse because it's 3d, you know, it's live rendering a 3d environment means you often need high computational power and high graphically. GPUs great, great graphic computation power, virtual platforms, do they exist? Can they support you're doing is there? Is there an interchange of tools and standards? You know, we have dot jpg dot pings for images. We've got dot mp4 and stuff videos, but we have nothing when it comes to a Metaverse and what the common file format should be. Randy Silver: 32:40 Mitch, we've only got time for one more question. This has been fantastic. And the follows neatly from what you were just talking about. But you're working with both creators, who some of who are early adopters, you know, we're playing around with all this. And with consumers, you know, people who are consuming the content, who, again, are fairly early adopters in many cases. But you're trying to plan for more mass market adoption on this. How do you do research with these types of personas, where most Europe to potential market is even considering this yet? Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 33:18 Another great question. I think, on our perspective, weirdly enough, artists are less of an early adopter and consumers I think passion is not so weird, especially in the music space, because the barriers to entry for musicians is really low. You know, anyone could be a vocalist, it doesn't mean that to be any good. And anyone can play the drums doesn't mean they're good at playing the drums. But they still are playing the drums and singing. And in that space, people are consistently trying to outcompete one another. How do I stand out from the crowd? Knowing that maybe these this day and age, it's not as simple as just making a track or releasing a single, I actually have to do something with it. So on the artist side, we've actually optimised this whole Metaverse or 3d content for the artist, they are more interested in that they want to stand out and they want to create a new form of content or medium that actually speaks to their consumers. So in that vein, our tool is what does the whole 3d piece it's a standalone software that artists download and have their mixed reality version of Photoshop. So with them, it's the usual kind of research sessions, you know, we see a minimum of five artists a week, we will sit them down with a tool, do the classic sort of research exercises. And of course, run quantitative surveys on our user base, which are artists. The consumer side, you're exactly right. You know, when we were building this experience, so that again, desktop tool for the artists they project or broadcast the experience, and originally it was to VR consumers who were in VR didn't understand what they needed to do because they didn't know what could be done. And that was a problem in itself. But we move to 2d so YouTube and Twitch and Facebook Live and tick tock are all primary channels now, because consumers are not one the wiser as to what medium they're consuming. To them. It's video It just looks like really exciting flashy video. And they can use chat and consumers already used a chat on Twitch. Currently they interact with the artists directly. And the answers will pick up what they're saying in chat and kind of call it out during the Twitch session, we're automating that, really, we're taking those key words and those chat commands and turning those into predefined interactions. Like, I type in the word volta, and a big volta logo comes on the screen explodes, spins around in 3d and disappears again. So that's how we've currently gone about it, which is give the consumers what they already know, because educating consumers in a mass fashion is a very expensive marketing efforts, at the very least, let alone trying to get research and qualified research back from them. But on the artist side, that's where we do a lot of heavy lifting. You know, and if you go down the artist adoption curve, and this is what we've been doing slowly over time, your top tier artists, the ones who've already been doing these things, the Travis Scott to the world the Justin Bieber's, and those kinds of people, they know this space, and their teams are very equipped with it. But as we've been slowly picking away and going down the classic pyramid from high tier artists and mid tier artists to club DJs, and so on, so forth. We're seeing these nuances appear more and more and more, we benchmark them to what we know some of the spaces already done. And that means that we're qualifying our research at every step, and we only move kind of down the ladder, if we know what we're picking up to qualified. Randy Silver: 36:20 Okay, so I appreciate all that, but it makes me think we missed a trick and that we're not cool enough because we didn't do this episode in Volta. Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 36:30 That would have been that would have video on for that one. To really see it or its might but you know, there could always be a showdown next year, if you guys are planning to release a video, and we could wrap the whole thing and use all of our audio to drive different things involved. Lily Smith: 36:48 That sounds amazing. Randy Silver: 36:50 Yeah, we'll see if people demand an encore. Maybe we'll have to Lily Smith: 36:53 do. Well, that'd be a pleasure. Mitch, it's been so great talking to you today on the podcast. Thanks so much for joining us. Mitchell Bayer-Goldman: 37:02 Thank you so much for having me. It's been amazing. Lily Smith: 37:14 The product experience is the first and the best podcast for mine the product. Our hosts are me Lily Smith, and me Randy silver. Louron Pratt is our producer and Luke Smith is our editor. Randy Silver: 37:29 Our theme music is from Hamburg baseband pow. That's P AU. Thanks to Arnie killer who curates both product tank and MTP engage in Hamburg and who also plays bass in the band for letting us use their music. You can connect with your local product community via product tank regular free meetups in over 200 cities worldwide. Lily Smith: 37:50 If there's not one near you, maybe you should think about starting one. To find out more go to mind the product.com forward slash product tank