George Parker: welcome to the metaverse… now, go home

Metaverse mania continues to take over the ad biz. Every one of the ad trades (I do not include MAA in this) is banging the drum about how it is the next big thing. As I write this, I just received notice that fake beer company, Miller Lite, is partnering with metaverse company, Decentraland, to bring a virtual bar to patrons during Super Bowl LVI. Oh yes indeed. Now instead of drinking real Nuns Piss Lite beer, you can drink Virtual Nuns Piss Lite beer, paying with digital money. Very “Non-Fungible” indeed.

Having been around the track many times, it reminds me of the dotcom implosion in the late nineties. During that particular crash, many e-traders, such as Pets.com, Webvan, and Boo.com, as well as several communication companies, such as Worldcom, NorthPoint Communications, and Global Crossing, crashed and burned. When the dust settled, hundreds of millions in funding had disappeared and the only survivors from the debacle were Amazon and eBay.

My favorite loser was Boo.com. A fashion site flogging high-priced designer gear that let you dress an avatar with the latest fashions. Trouble was back in those days, all the internet connections were dial-up, so it took you an hour to get your avatar’s Gucci panties and bra on. They burned through millions and went bust in less than a year. It was created by two Swedish losers, Kasja Leander who was a failed fashion model and Ernst Malmer who was an ex professor of medieval Norse literature. Perfect credentials for the digital world.

What they were perfect for, however, was the high life that investors’ dosh allowed them to briefly live. That’s why Boo.com became known as “The Three C’s” company, as it ran on Caviar, Champagne and the Concorde, opening offices in every major capital city before they even had a single web site. Sound familiar?

Anyway, back to the metaverse. The hype is now non-stop. The proof will be in the pudding. Even if it is a virtual pudding. Remember Second Life? Launched in 1993, it allowed you to create a virtual world in which you could have an avatar living in a non-existent world peopled by douchenozzles like yourself who are incapable of living in the real world. It was actually the metaverse, just nineteen years before its time, and just as dumb. As suggested on Vice, is this Metaverse Mania an enviable early investment in the future of the internet or misplaced hope in one of most overhyped marketing schemes in the history of US capitalism?” My money is on the latter.

And, speaking of money, no one seems to be talking about the cost of the hardware and software that will get you there. The necessary Oculus space helmet-sized VR Goggles that keep you chained to your chair will set you back a mere $500. God knows what the various apps are going to cost you. Maybe you can dig out that set of Google Glass you coughed up big money for a few years ago. Nah… They are old news, the future is in the future. Just like flying cars. And the Metaverse. In the meantime, watch The Matrix one more time.

PS I don’t often agree with Bob Garfield, but his Garfield at Large post yesterday… “It’s all Geek to Me” really rang my bell. It was a reinforcement of what I have been shooting my mouth off about for some time now… We are rapidly approaching Dotcom Implosion deja vue. Just sixteen short years ago the Adverati were jumping on the “fuck the revenue, let’s build the customer base first, ‘cos it’ll all work out in the future, bandwagon.” As we now know..It didn’t. When the Webvan, Pets.com, etc, etc, dust settled, out of the thousands of heavily financed companies that hit the dust, only eBay and Amazon were left…And as Bob says, It’s all happening again with the mind bending valuations of shit that will never make a fucking penny. Why do we never learn? ‘Cos we are fucktards, stupid!

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About George Parker

George Parker has spent 40 years on Madison Avenue. He’s won Lions, CLIOs, EFFIES, and the David Ogilvy Award. His blog is adscam.typepad.com, which is required reading for those looking for a gnarly view of the world’s second oldest profession.” His latest book, Confessions of a Mad Man, makes the TV show Mad Men look like Sesame Street.