In this episode, your hosts Chris Bruno and Alexis Nicosia are joined by Samuel Huber, CEO of LandVault, the end-to-end metaverse builders for brands. Today we ask the question, what is the future of metaverse building? 

In this episode, we talk about: 

  • How Sam got into the Metaverse industry
  • The current state of the metaverse 
  • What’s the future of virtual land
  • How can we democratise the metaverse
  • and of course, what is the future of metaverse building.

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Samuel Huber 0:01
What technology can we build to make it easier for people to create to deploy to monetize, so that it’s going to become as easy as it is to build a website to build in the metaverse.

Chris Bruno 0:12
Welcome to all about the metaverse podcast, the show that keeps you up to date with the latest technology, trends and news about our future digital world. Hello, everybody. And welcome back to another episode of The all about the metaverse podcasts. I’m back. I’m excited. We’ve got Alexis, of course, my co host How you doing? Alexis?

Alexis Nicosia 0:31
Hi, Chris. Doing very well. Thank you very much for putting together again, another awesome episode. I’m looking forward to that. We have someone quite special today.

Chris Bruno 0:43
Yeah, do indeed. So I’m very happy to announce that today. We have Sam who bear from land vault CEO of land vault, but I’m not going to try and butcher an introduction and pretend like I know his story better than he does. So Sam, thank you so much for joining us. How are you doing today?

Samuel Huber 0:56
I’m doing well. I’m doing well. Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to be on the podcast.

Chris Bruno 1:00
Oh, to be fair, we’re going to start off straight away with I am massively jealous of that kick ass view. I mean, mine is probably more Metaverse than the real verse. But that looks fantastic. You’re based out of Dubai. Is that right? Yeah,

Samuel Huber 1:11
that’s right. For the last three months I used to be in London, where the view is quite different. The weather is quite different and moved to move to Dubai about three months ago relocated some some of the team here and this is now a new, new playground. Lots of excitement about the metaverse here.

Chris Bruno 1:29
Cool. Well, listen, Sam, why don’t we start off with tell us a little bit about who you are your background? And how do you get to becoming the CEO of landfall? How does that all happen?

Samuel Huber 1:39
Yeah, it was certainly not a straight line. I’ve started my career as an engineer, actually working in the Formula One industry for about two years as a as an engineer. mainly on the software engineering side, I was running simulations to predict the point of failure of certain engines and working directly with Hamilton and Baton at the time at McLaren Mercedes. So that was a very different, you know, different, I guess, skills and different things that I was doing back then. But I always wanted to have my own company and create my own venture. This is a desire that I had for a long time. So eventually, after about two years there, I decided to move to London and create a game studio, which at the time, I thought was going to be an easy step into entrepreneurship. I didn’t really have any b2b expertise or big idea, I just wanted to work on my own projects. And I felt like gaming was going to be a, an easy way to get into that. Obviously, building games is really hard. And I found that, you know, the first couple of months, we were basically operating as a studio and creating games for mobile. And, and that was really difficult. We had, we had some success selling a few of our of our games. Obviously, a lot of them did not work out. But what I learned through that period was mainly around monetization and what it takes to publish content, distribute content, and monetize it, and also felt that there was a huge gap for creators like myself to actually properly monetize content. So after about a year, on the studio model, we pivoted to build a piece of technology to do product placement inside games, to let brands advertise, you know, in a banner around a stadium in FIFA, or take over the billboards in GTA type of game. That was our idea idea was that, you know, with billions of people playing games every single day, those this real estate in the game is valuable. And if we could have brands actually placing real time advertising targeted advertising, like on the web, but actually inside the game, this could create a completely new channel for brands, but mainly for creators to drive more revenue from their real estate. And this is funny because this was gaming at the time. There was nothing to do with metaverse. And you know, throughout that business, we raised a lot of money about 30 million, we build a team of about 100 people. And then two years ago, we started to see that brands were more drawn towards Metaverse that gaming was cool. And they still are interested. But you know, Metaverse was the new thing. And they would see that Metaverse was kind of like the next phase of gaming where they could do more, they could be more creative, and actually build complete experiences. So we decided to take the tech that we had, but expand its reach and not just put ads in games but actually build infrastructure for metaverse. As part of that we acquired a game studio, we rebranded into land vaults. And you know about a year later, it was June 2022. And we did that. So we’ve been we’ve been at this for now 11 months in the metaverse. It feels like a lot longer, but it’s only been it’s only been about a year. And yeah, here we are. We’ve established the company as the largest builders in the metaverse we’ve done over 200 projects for Fortune 500 companies and governments. And it’s been, it’s been quite a ride. But you know, looking back, the vision has remained pretty much the same. It’s it’s about finding new ways to generate revenue from from virtual worlds and from content. And to me, this is what, you know, despite the metaverse not being maybe the hottest thing right now. The fundamentals are there, people are spending millions of hours in virtual worlds. And this is why, you know, we’re convinced that we are building something that matters.

Alexis Nicosia 5:29
Well, thank you. Thank you so much.

Chris Bruno 5:31
That’s a really good point that you mentioned there as well right at the moment. At the moment, we’re definitely seeing that there’s like a negative trait towards the metaverse rate maybe. And I think maybe part of that is people mixing up meta as a company and Metaverse in general as a concept. But what are your thoughts right now on the state of the metaverse as an industry as a platform as a potential? What are your thoughts?

Samuel Huber 5:54
Well, I think there’s two things. There’s, there’s the market sentiment, which obviously at the moment is not good. You know, I’ve seen that before with VR, because when we started the company, we were also targeting VR content creators. And VR in 2014 2015 was, you know, the next big thing everyone thought, oh, Facebook just acquired Oculus. So in a year, everyone will have a VR headset, and we will use it for everything. And then turns out that, you know, it’s going to take longer than you think. And also the use cases are not going to be everything it might be, it might change a few things that you do could be fitness, or it could be, you know, gaming, but it’s not going to change everything. And I think it’s exactly the same that happens with the metaverse where we thought, Oh, the metaverse is here in two years, everyone will use the metaverse for everything. And turns out, it’s not going to be everyone and it’s not going to be for everything. And as the industry finds that out, then the hype kind of goes down a little bit, except for the core audience that is still you know, deeply passionate about it, and then it comes back up. And then you have actual use cases. And for VR, it’s enterprise. Now, I think it’s I don’t know the exact stat, but it was like 60% of fortune 500 companies are using VR for training, you know, for for educating their staff, or if it’s a manufacturing plant, I think 90% of them use it. So there are actual use cases. But it’s not everyone, and it’s not everywhere. And I think the metaverse is the same, you know, real tech, real change really takes time. And we have the tendency to see to think that everything is going to happen really quickly. And then some people lose interest. And you the only the core fans really remain. But again, the fundamentals, you know, that’s the market sentiment. And on the other side is the fundamentals, which is people spending time in virtual environments through games, 3 billion of them play every day, $200 billion a year is being spent on virtual goods. And that’s growing fast about 20% year on year. So to me, this is the fundamentals that matter. And what we’re building is a mainstream use case for when you know there’s audiences ready to go beyond days

Alexis Nicosia 8:05
of tax this I have questions so so you’re saying that you started as a you know, game studio and then you know you shifted towards building? Meta versus which by the way, congratulation for you know, holding the title for the largest Metaverse, builder in the world. This is quite an achievement. But now moving forward. You know, of course not everything is going to be in a Metaverse with Chris already discussed that. Obviously, we see low hanging fruits of acceptance of the metaverse being, as you said, enterprise for education, mainly at is this one of the things that we we keep discussing in this podcast. But now a question to you as you are, you know, developer for for games, and now metaverse. I mean, the addictive nature of, of games is, you know, those very, you know, enticing universes and very, you know, fun places to be and be entertained. Now, if tomorrow the metaverse becomes exactly that’s how do you see this become, you know, like a challenge moving forward? And is it going to become a challenge where you’re going to have so many beings of people all of a sudden being hooked on metal versus such as the video games, for instance? Yeah.

Samuel Huber 9:18
I think if you look at where what the metaverse is today, and what our use cases is the fact that there’s basically very little to do at most times, right, you know, we’ve just to give some context, what we what we do is we build experiences for brands, mainly they were the first customers so like the MasterCard, the Heineken and Red Bull L’Oreal, they want to create a marketing activation to celebrate something or you know, to drive users, right. So those events are not they’re not evergreen, they generally last for a certain amount of time that they bring content, maybe there’s q&a, there’s events, and then it kind of dies off. That’s like that’s like the lifecycle of a marketing campaign. So right now In the metaverse, there’s not a huge amount of things to do. And this is why there’s not a huge amount of people. The only thing that keeps driving people and give them a reason to go is gaming platforms like Roblox, which are very gaming centric. So knowing where we are now, you know, I’m not really worried about suddenly having all these experiences that are so good that we hook hook people, and they spend, you know, all their time playing in the metaverse because I think there’s a big disconnect between where we are today and that that dystopian vision. I want to make it clear that you know, the metaverse to me is not a way to replace the real world. Nothing’s ever going to replace the real world. It’s a way to enhance the digital world. So we have the saying that landlords that the metaverse should be the second best thing, or the next next best thing after reality. The best thing is always to be face to face to meet real people to go to vacation on a real beach or to go to a real concert. Nothing is ever going to be that

Alexis Nicosia 10:57
okay, don’t come right. But I’m coming right back to come and see you. That’d be nice, though. Right? I mean, better. That’d be because this this interface is not quite exactly right. That’s not quite it’s.

Samuel Huber 11:11
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So So I think it’s the, you know, this concept of second best thing, like the second best thing right now to reality, is this, right? We on this on this website we talking? And that’s, that’s great, because I can’t travel to, you know, to see you guys for an hour. Unfortunately, we’re quite far. So this is definitely something that is helpful. But it’s not replacing a real interaction. And I think the our view at least for the metaverse is that the metaverse will become the second best thing, because it’s going to be better than video is going to be better than you know, FaceTime is going to be better than pictures. So it’s going to become the layer between reality which is going to remain the best thing and what we currently have on the digital world, but at least they I think there is space for the second layer to exist. And this is what the metaverse in our mind should be. What are

Chris Bruno 11:59
your thoughts, Sam in terms of Metaverse at the moment is probably thrown around a lot and linked very closely to web three. Right? Do you think it is exclusively something that has to be web three in the future because again, I look at projects like Roblox and yes, they’re very gaming centric. But these are digital worlds that are now you know, huge and their Creator economies and all sorts and the same with fortnight now opening up their engine. So do you think that the web three element is absolutely essential to make a Metaverse work in the future?

Samuel Huber 12:28
No, I don’t think so. I think the concept of Metaverse is a 3d Internet, which could be powered by web two, or they were three. We are definitely you know, favouring web three base Metaverse because of the economy that he creates, and the creator economy, which basically puts more power in the hands of the creators, you know, because you can mint what you create as an NFT and sell it. So everything is an economy around pretty much every item, everything is tradable. And you can retain a lot more of the profit when you when you create or when you participate in those worlds. So we’re definitely more excited about that. I think the big innovation of the metaverse to differentiate it from gaming is going to be the web three components. Otherwise, it’s really just a game that you play on the platform that centralises everything. But we do recognise that you know there are platforms that will will want to be a little more centralised version of the metaverse

Chris Bruno 13:27
like bearing that in mind as well. I think one of my big questions would be everything to do with land sales, right? This was a mad time last year right for land sales in the metaverse. And I think this is probably one of my big worries, maybe is that it gave a very bad impression that, you know, the hype that went with it, the driving up of prices, people purchasing land for hundreds of 1000s of dollars, right, which today is probably worth $1,000. If that, I think really at the moment. What are your thoughts about that? What’s the future of kind of this virtual land and this digital ownership of land?

Samuel Huber 14:01
Yeah, we landlord is quite a big landowner actually in the metaverse and myself personally, as well. I was actually one of the first manned owner on platforms like some space back when they launched like 2017 decentraland Quite early as well. So I’ve seen the whole rise, you know, from $50 per parcel to 20,000. And now back again. And I’ve always felt this was this was quite interesting. But I think the metaverse is not going to be just limited to land. So the way that we see the landscape right now, and this is also something that we are building with our own protocol called Matera, we basically think that there will be an open Metaverse a little bit like the open web. And then within right and different experiences could be connected together. Like websites are connected using hyperlinks. So for this to happen, you need a protocol for the interoperability of those experiences. So that’s something that we’re doing thing, no others I’ve been doing that as well. But also the phone is called material. And the goal is to just create a common standard to deploy this content. And then within this open Metaverse, you will have silos or close walls a little bit like you have, you know, social media platforms that live on the internet. And they are recreating an ecosystem within their own walled gardens. And this could be a platform like the sandbox, for example, or decentraland, who are issuing their own land. So I think land will exist in the metaverse, but not at the scale of the whole, open Metaverse, but more for specific areas who you know, want to create a little bit of hype, and to basically be seen on the platform, you need to buy land, just like you need to buy, you know, ads on Google to be on the top of on the top of the first page to me land is the same thing, but in three dimension. So I think the concept will exist, obviously, most land will probably eventually go to zero. And you’ll have you know, a handful of platform that remain that will do very well. Which ones that’s a bit too early to say. But yeah, it’s a very interesting concept. And I think this is this is still going to have a use case

Alexis Nicosia 16:07
to tell me it doesn’t equal you to create your own metaverse. Is that what Matera is going to be? In a

Samuel Huber 16:12
way? Yes, but we are I think the main shifts in the way we’re thinking about it is if we think at the whole scale of the whole Metaverse, just like the whole internet, not just the website, the whole internet, then our vision is that the metaverse should be a protocol and not a platform in the sense that it shouldn’t be somewhere that you log into, that has like four walls. And that has rules that one person or one company has set. But it should be a protocol like the internet is TCP IP is HTTP is a set of rules that are given to the creators and the creators can build on top of that. And you know, the fact that they all use the same protocol means that two completely different websites can still communicate can still be indexed by the same search engine can be linked by hyperlinks. And this is what creates a network as opposed to having just servers that do not communicate. So that’s our vision for the open metaverse. We think what we what needs to be built is a standard for people that want to build with unity with Unreal, we sandbox, it doesn’t matter. But you at least deploy all the content on the same framework. So things can be interoperable. That’s our vision for the metaverse thinking about it as a as a protocol. Not a platform

Chris Bruno 17:27
plays a big part in the whole idea of the 3d version of the internet. Right?

Samuel Huber 17:31
Yeah. I mean, you know, before the web, the internet, so the internet and the web. Two things, right? The the internet was this way to basically transfer files between computers. But you had to connect to that node, and then communicate directly there was no open space to share files. There was no standard, there was no protocol. So it was very much a, you know, a one to one relationships, or one, two, instead of having that one to many relationships. I think that’s what we have in the metaverse today, we have all these nodes, some of them very successful, but they’re still walled gardens. They’re not really building a standard for everyone to deploy and monetize their content. So, you know, being a large builder in the metaverse, we’ve seen a lot of projects, we understand what people want. And we we think we’re in a great position to bring that standard to market.

Chris Bruno 18:23
Do you find that the demand is still there from the big companies and big brands? Man, I’d say big brands in the traditional sense, not necessarily the people that are trying to work in web three, but you’re still seeing a strong demand for access to the metaverse for building experiences and things like that. Are people still involved?

Samuel Huber 18:41
Yeah, absolutely. You know, one of the reasons I moved to Dubai here is because we felt an even stronger demand here from government organisations, companies, real estate companies, which we’re not really finding anywhere else. But even in other places, you know, there’s still demand. Now, it’s not the same as he was a year ago where everyone was jumping in. And this was what I was saying earlier, right. Last year, we thought, Oh, the metaverse is going to happen tomorrow, and every business needs to be there tomorrow. Well, turns out this is not the case, maybe a handful of businesses in the real estate space in the event space need to be there. The rest can’t wait. And so now you know, the a lot of it has been filtered out. There’s definitely less hype, not everyone is jumping into it for for PR reasons or to be first. But the ones that are still there are very strategic about it. And they’re thinking, How do I make my business relevant for the next 10 years? How do I speak to the generation alpha that is not watching TV, but they’re playing games and watching Tic TOCs? How do we make it relevant? While having a three dimensional environment that kind of looks like a game that sponsors their favourite games. That’s one way to be relevant to that audience. So when they’re ready to buy in 10, you know, five to 10 years, at least you will be speaking the right language. So that’s that’s what we see we see much longer term project much more strategic than we were seeing a year ago.

Alexis Nicosia 20:06
Quick question, do you believe that AI is going to have a significant impact in how you know Metaverse contents going to be generated or consumed, for that matter? And, and following my question with Matera, are you going to include within that protocol, you know, some some some gateways for for AI as well?

Samuel Huber 20:28
Yeah, looks like you’ve seen our roadmap. We are. We definitely believe that. You know, one of the one of the problems or limitation in the metaverse right now is, is that it’s still very expensive to create a good experience. And you know, we often ask like, Why do you only bring brands in the metaverse? Like the metaverse is not supposed to be just for brands? Well, the answer to that is they are the only ones who can afford it right now. Because to build a cool experience, which is basically a mini game, that would probably cost you six figures. So an individual is not going to come up with that, especially when the hopes of returns is still limited in the short term. So you know to democratise the metaverse to make it as easy as it is to build a website, we need to come the prices need to come down. And I think the only way to do that significantly to go from six figures to four figures, if that’s a term, you know, to less than $1,000 is using things like generative AI to automate a lot of the creation process. Because then instead of building everything from scratch, then you can use templates. You can recycle things, you can put things together, and you create this what I call the WordPress moment, which is where anyone can build. Metaverse experience as easily as it is to build a website. Right. Creating a website right now is basically free and instant. And it wasn’t the case in 1995. I think Jeff Bezos explained that you raise a million dollars seed round for Amazon. And all of that went into building the websites because he had to build his own servers, he had to create his own payment gateway, there was no building blocks to create all this stuff. And in the metaverse right now is the same you have to build from scratch from an empty piece of land. So you know, those things needs to come together. It needs to get easier to build, and generative AI is going to be the catalyst to make that happen.

Chris Bruno 22:25
What’s the biggest single most exciting thing that you see coming up in the future for the metaverse that could be short term long term? But what’s the one thing that really excites you about it?

Samuel Huber 22:34
I think is one is there’s a few things. One of the things that we’ve been hunting for, you know, for the last year or so working in the space is is a real use case. You know, we’ve we’ve done a lot of projects, as I said, a lot of projects are were meant to be short term because they were more like marketing activation. We want to, you know, create a, we want to create a real reason for people to spend time in the metaverse. And this is very possible because there are 1000s of games out there that, as you said, attracting people to spend hours and hours and hours. So it’s not a new behaviour for people to spend time in the digital environment. You just need the right mechanic to keep them there. So we think it’s a combination of great gameplay and IP, like something that they know that will attract them there. And we now have a few new projects that we’re working on that are like, you know, six months to a year project like big, big projects that I think will will do that and create the first real use case for people to join to join the metaverse. So that’s one thing I’m really excited about. And the other thing is technology and is getting closer to that WordPress moment, which again, is a term that we use internally, what technology can we build, to make it easier for people to create, to deploy to monetize, so that it’s going to become as easy as it is to build a website to build in the metaverse. When you have that. This is when everyone can start creating. So if you go from you know 100 creators to a million, then you’re going to have a lot of garbage being built. But you’re also going to have a handful of really good activations like the internet, there’s billions of websites that do not deserve to be there. But you have a few great ones that people spend all their time on. So I think we need more volume. And this is only going to be possible when everyone is going to be able to build and technology will enable that. So I’m quite excited to reach that inflection inflection. inflection point.

Alexis Nicosia 24:30
Excellent, nice. Well, you put that very well. Looking forward for you to become the next Jeff Bezos of the metaverse. Really. It was absolutely a US you you’re very eloquent. Some I’m sure our audience have appreciated the, you know that vulgarisation of all these very difficult terms that people usually throw around you. You’ve put that together very well. Was was a delight to to hear you talk about the metaverse,

Samuel Huber 24:54
I appreciate that. Appreciate that. Sam,

Chris Bruno 24:56
before we wrap up, where can people find out more about you? About landfall. And also is there an experience currently that you guys have built recently or anything like that, that people can jump into and experience something?

Samuel Huber 25:08
Yeah, yeah. So you can go to our website, we actually making big changes to our website One thing that I haven’t really mentioned, but, you know, we, we have built a lot in Sandbox in decentraland. And now we’re quite excited about what our new protocol enables. So a lot of our new experiences are available on the web, you click a link, you get immersed into a 3d experience. You don’t need to download an app, you don’t need crypto, it’s much simpler onboarding. So you can find some of those you’ll be able to very soon find some of those on our on our website. And then to find me, Sam Hoover on most platforms, Twitter, LinkedIn, you can’t you can’t miss it so you can follow for, you know, daily, daily videos and weekly advice and information about the metaverse.

Alexis Nicosia 25:55

Chris Bruno 25:56
Amazing, Sam, thank you so much for your time today.

Alexis Nicosia 25:59
No, it was nice to have you man. Thank you so much.

Samuel Huber 26:01
Thanks for having me, guys.

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