This interview gives perspectives on metaverses from a first-line developer. It covers:
Many questions like this come around when discussing such a complex and state-of-the-art topic as the Metaverse if it still needs to be wholly defined, as it is still in its first phases of development. This interview might clarify and allow you to understand better the Metaverse and all the possibilities it could bring to our daily environment.
Enjoy, and learn from our portfolio Bonfire’s CEO Raphael Herkommer.
1. Please briefly describe your educational background and professional experience in this industry.
Since my early days, I have been fascinated by tech. My first job was when I was 14, screwing together PCs for a local computer shop. I definitely was more a PC child than a "tree house child."
After school, I started with a commercial education while working for an IT distribution company focused on storage media (cd, DVD, HDD, SSD). After that, I started and finished a Bachelor's in Business-Psychology, which I studied remotely. Then I switched to Clinical Psychology and completed my B.Sc. and M.A. at Berlins' International Psychoanalytic university.
After that, I helped to build up a psychodynamic consultancy with a fellow student in Berlin, which has been running since.
I got in contact with Web3 tech approx. 8 years ago, primarily because of cryptocurrencies. Since then, I have followed developments in the field. In 2021, we founded BonfireHQ, which has points of contact with web3 concepts, like the Metaverse.
2. How would you define the Metaverse based on your observations and experience?
We would define the Metaverse as "a virtual extension of the real world, where it fits. A virtual place where you can perform (inter)actions normally only possible in the real world. Beyond that, a Metaverse can exceed known (inter)actions and deliver certain experiences impossible in the physical world."
At least, in the beginning, there is not just "one" Metaverse. There will be different iterations for different use cases (e.g., Decentraland, Superworld, Genesis World, Matrix World). In the (very) long run, there maybe will be a unified Metaverse that implements all functions and data from the others. But this will take some time.
It is the same with every new technology: It's becoming a massive bubble, and everybody wants to do something with the tech. Over time, viable and sustainable use cases get identified, and it begins to get adopted by the mass market.
3.What product are you building in the Web 3.0 space, and what is its vision?
Bonfire, in short, is a social Metaverse for the remote workforce. We are building 3D virtual spaces for remote teams and communities, were we combine gamification with communication. You can choose an avatar and move freely through your space, approaching your colleagues and talking to them. With that, we create a social remote working experience. Easily accessible with a web browser.
At some point, we want to offer our customers the possibility to connect to all the other Bonfire “offices” and create a social network for remote organizations to interact.
4. What role, in your opinion, do telecom companies play in the Metaverse?
I see Teleco not so much as a provider of Metaverse(s) but as an enabler. It is the role of Teleco giants like Telefonica or Deutsche Telekom to build an infrastructure that makes this evolution of human interaction possible. This is an insanely challenging task, but Startups like us can identify the need earlier and take the proper steps sooner because they hear from us what is needed in the future.
5. Can you briefly explain how you've been cooperating with corporates to foster innovation?
We worked with several companies by providing them with a virtual social hub, our Bonfire offices, for their decentralized workforce. With our tool, remote work becomes less lonely and more engaging. Since the big "hold-backs” of a wide range of remote work adoption are psycho-social problems like loneliness and isolation, long-term demotivation, and complicated communication, this must be tackled.
6. How quickly do you think the market for the Metaverse will be developed?
We will see the first viable use cases within the next five years. It will take longer when it comes to mass adoption. Until most of the people you and I know visit the Metaverse regularly, it takes 10 to 20 years. An exception to this is the gaming industry. With an insane amount of early adopters, IT people, and nerds (I love them), this will be the experimental playground for everything related to web3 and Metaverse approaches.
7. What limitations of our current technology does Web 3.0 envisions solving?
Decentralization is a big one here. Not being dependent on central institutions so much can be a good thing. Of course, there will be risks and challenges with that. That's the way the use case is vital. For example, virtual environments immersion can be utilized in exciting ways. Also, digital ownership, what we see now as NFTs, has definitely cool use cases, but we are not quite there yet. We also see web3 approaches in the decentralized finance (DeFi) sector and in privacy and digital infrastructure.
8. What are your worries about the Metaverse, and does the concept pose any threats?
There will be black sheep and lighthouse projects, virtual rooms for refugees to meet their lost family members again, and shady places with questionable purposes. This is where decentralization can become a pitfall. Besides the companies that build solutions in the area, someone or something needs to care about responsibility and accountability globally.
9. What do you think are the motivations of the young generation to enter the Metaverse?
That's easy. It is curiosity. And some web3 concepts, like "the Metaverse" and virtual worlds, can be very appealing and exciting for younger people. That's why we need to build a universal rule set and develop a moral Carta, similar to what one can see in the discussion about artificial intelligence. Maybe we use theirs when they are done earlier.