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Welcome to The Metaverse

Virtual reality as an escape from real world dystopia has a long tradition in science fiction. Is Mark Zuckerberg bringing it to life?

Facebook Goes Meta

Last week’s biggest news out of Silicon Valley was Facebook’s (FB) announcement that it was rebranding as “Meta”, as part of its corporate embrace of the “Metaverse”.

The Dystopian Playbook

The term Metaverse was coined by Neal Stephenson in his dystopian novel Snow Crash. Stephenson tweeted on Friday that he has no connection with Facebook/Meta otherwise.

Mark Zuckerberg almost certainly has read Snow Crash; it’s a favorite of tech types from Google co-founder Larry Page to Union Square Ventures partner Fred Wilson. And Neal Stephenson has been one of America’s most prophetic novelists.

Already two dystopian trends he predicted in Snow Crash have come true: people living in shipping containers, and mass illegal migration from the Global South to America (although in Stephenson’s book, they came by sea, which was likely an homage to JeanRaspail’s earlier novel, The Camp of the Saints; for an even earlier dystopian novel that has proven prescient, see our previous post, That Hideous Strength).

In Snow Crash, the Metaverse is, among other things, a virtual reality escape from the actual reality of living in a shipping container.

That idea was borrowed in a later dystopian novel, Ready Player One, which was made into Spielberg movie in 2018.

As The American Sun noted, the push for a virtual escape from dystopia suggests the powers that be aren’t working to prevent a dystopia.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, then, that the “eat the bugs” folks at World Economic Forum have taken an interest in Meta.

Investment Implications

Dystopia or not, a lot money is going to be pouring into making the Metaverse a reality. Nathan Roth suggested some companies and crypto currencies that could benefit from it.

A few of our recent top names are on that list. Nvidia (NVDA) and the Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF (BLOK) were both top names of ours last spring.