My guests today are Philip Rosedale and Bill Gurley. Philip created Second Life in the early 2000s and helped build it into the largest virtual 3D world ever created at the time. Frequent listeners will recognize Bill, who was an investor in Second Life via Benchmark Capital. During the conversation, we cover the fascinating story of Second Life and the billion-dollar economy that persists through to this day. Bill and Phillip share their key learnings from the experience, including the importance of usability, their views of the current metaverse opportunity, and what excites them most about the current focus on virtual realities. If you’re curious about what the metaverse might become, these two experts have seen much of this already and are kind to share their lessons with us. Please enjoy my conversation with Phillip and Bill.
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[00:03:22] - [First question] - The origin story of Second Life and why they created it
[00:05:38] - How many people were playing Second Life at its peak, the in-game economy and its growth trajectory
[00:06:49] - The interface between the in-game currency and its function for players
[00:10:53] - An example of early entrepreneurship and user-created IP in Second Life
[00:12:13] - Was technology a rate limiter to success in such an early version of the metaverse?
[00:14:35] - What was most exciting about creating it and it’s early-stage potential
[00:18:23] - Why Unity isn’t more adopted by creators and players like Minecraft
[00:24:42] - Defining what the metaverse means to each of them today
[00:28:50] - What Discord has taught them about aggregating people digitally
[00:33:02] - Simultaneously crossing the digital chasm and the uncanny valley
[00:38:16] - Key differences between games and platforms and the role of purpose
[00:42:04] - Why cryptocurrencies and blockchains haven’t produced experiences akin to the virtual Travis Scott concert
[00:47:13] - Why removing friction and centralizing financial structures can help growth and thoughts on play to earn gaming and user spending
[00:53:27] - Digital asset ownership and digital trustless exchanges in the metaverse
[00:57:30] - Pros and cons of today’s speculative digital asset valuations
[01:01:05] - Interesting pockets of opportunity that could benefit the metaverse ecosystem
[01:04:28] - How they’d build and construct an ETF with metaverse exposure
[01:07:18] - Thoughts on AR and VR and which holds more promise for public adoption
[01:08:02] - Surprising findings about the role audio plays in digital worlds
[01:10:23] - What they’re watching most closely in this emergent sector
[01:11:29] - Limitations of visual and sonic barriers when recreating real-world interactions
[01:12:42] - The kindest things anyone has ever done for them