Is the metaverse really dead? – Improbable’s Herman Narula

This week’s UKTN Podcast guest is Improbable CEO and co-founder Herman Narula, who says the metaverse is already thriving rather than being over before it started.

Backed by the likes of SoftBank and Andreessen Horowitz, the London-based company designs, builds and operates metaverse experiences for brands. Recent projects include screening a Major League Baseball match in a virtual ballpark.

The company has been building infrastructure for virtual worlds since 2012 – way before the term ‘metaverse’ became popularised following Facebook’s rebrand to Meta in 2021. 

Since then, the attention of many in the tech world has shifted to AI, leading some commentators to claim the metaverse is already dead. In this episode, Narula responds to what he sees as misconceptions about the metaverse.

“If you’re under the age of 20 now, and someone like a journalist were to walk up to you and say the metaverse isn’t real, you’d just think they were daft,” Narula says. “It would be like saying football isn’t real. And I think this is a disconnect between the people who write about video games and the metaverse outside of the industry and the people that are in it.”

The Improbable founder adds that while some projects – like Decentraland and Sandbox – haven’t lived up to expectations, it’s “a bit laughable” to take this as a reflection of the entire metaverse market given the success of games like Roblox and Minecraft.

Last year, Improbable sold its defence business and one of its gaming ventures. In this episode, Narula explains how these commercial deals have made Improbable a more sustainable business that doesn’t need to rely on venture capital and shares more about the company’s future dealmaking strategy. 

Elsewhere, Narula explains the role he sees web3 playing in the metaverse, and shares how people can present themselves however they like in the metaverse – even a potato. 

Listen to the full episode here, along with all previous episodes of the UKTN Podcast.

The UKTN Podcast is sponsored by HSBC Innovation Banking, which offers flexible banking solutions for startups, scaleups, growth businesses, investors and those working towards IPO.

Throughout the series, the UKTN Podcast will be speaking to some of the key movers and shakers from UK tech. We’ll learn growth strategies from both seasoned and up-and-coming founders, hear market sentiments from investors, and question policymakers on the decisions impacting the country’s innovation economy.

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