Web Summit 2022: Timmu Tõke (Ready Player Me)
Join João Tomé for Conversations at Web Summit 2022, one of the biggest tech conferences in the world — held November 2022, in Lisbon, Portugal.
In this interview, Timmu Tõke, CEO & Co-Founder at Ready Player Me (a cross-game avatar platform for the metaverse), goes over if the metaverse is still trendy (opinions about the word and concept); evolution of the metaverse and the Internet; what is a better Internet for the future (wishlist).
Timmu Tõke, CEO and Co-Founder of Reddit .me My name is Timmu. I'm from Reddit.me. I'm the CEO and Co-Founder.
I'm based in New York and I'm from Estonia originally. Reddit.me is a cross-game avatar platform for the Metaverse.
We see that people spend a lot of time in virtual worlds and more time every year.
And the Metaverse is happening around us.
And the Metaverse is not a single place. It's a network of thousands and millions of worlds and experiences.
Like the Internet almost, right?
So it makes sense for you to have an avatar that travels with you across many different worlds and is not stuck in one game.
That's what we are for the end -users of the Metaverse.
And for developers, we're a great easy-to-use avatar system.
You can integrate with your game and world in an easy way and save many months of development time.
So the use case is VR, AR, but also other stuff? Yeah, VR and AR is maybe 10% of the network.
We work with 4,000 companies that use our avatars in their experiences.
Like 10-15% maybe is VR, AR. We think people spend a lot of time in virtual worlds already.
There's almost 3 billion people that play games today even without VR and AR.
VR and AR are definitely more immersive ways to experience the virtual worlds.
They will accelerate the transition to virtual worlds and will make people spend even more time in virtual worlds, but it's not needed for the Metaverse to exist.
The Metaverse is a 3D Internet, 3D virtual worlds that are connected with each other.
I think that's how we define the Metaverse.
It has some kind of interoperability between them.
It has some kind of value transfer between them. That's the Metaverse.
Today, people experience 3D virtual worlds through their phones, through their desktops, through games mostly.
So it's very much here. When you look at the 10-15-year-olds in the world and what they're doing, they spend their time in virtual worlds.
They play Roblox and Fortnite. That's where they hang out with their friends.
So it's very much here already through the devices we already have.
As we get more immersive devices to experience virtual worlds, it's just going to accelerate even further, but it's not needed for the Metaverse to exist.
For the Metaverse, what we really need is we need to connect to different virtual worlds that already exist because now they're all closed.
Walled gardens, they all build their own economies, they all build their own systems.
Our goal is to connect them.
The mission is to break down virtual walls to build a more connected virtual world.
And avatars are one way to do that. The avatar is a persistent part of the experience across many different worlds.
So by building interoperable avatars, we can help break down the walls a little bit and push the world towards a more open Metaverse.
And that is the true Metaverse, right? Every game exists in a Metaverse now.
The Internet is obviously an essential part of the Metaverse.
There could be no Metaverse.
That could only be single -player experiences. And the Metaverse is all about connecting with other people and having those kind of authentic relationships and connections with real people.
So it's all about the Internet. They go hand in hand.
And latency and all the problems that exist today with the current form of the Internet are really holding back the Metaverse in some ways as well.
And this is not something we can change as a company, but we definitely look for all that space to expand and those problems to be solved so we could have even more meaningful experiences in virtual worlds.
And the Internet is like...
Hardware, the Internet, latency, all those problems, that's not an area I know deeply about, but it's one of the main blockers for really having a persistent virtual world we can live in.
To have a better and faster Internet will help your business in a sense.
So it's all about collaborative effort in many companies, many countries, right?
Right, exactly. And we just benefit from all the hard work that people are doing to improve the Internet.
I think the Metaverse will be an average consumer product. It won't be about hardcore games.
I grew up playing a lot of games, but most people don't call themselves gamers.
So it's not going to be about the hardcore gamers. It's going to be about the people that use social media today, but they just use it in a more immersive world, in a more immersive way, in a 3D experience, and it will be more compelling.
So the Internet usage will definitely increase when the Metaverse forms itself around us.
Because it's a multimedia experience taken to another level, right?
Exactly. And then there's streaming, which is showing some progress.
So you wouldn't have to have a very powerful device. You could experience very amazing experiences just by streaming them.
That's not quite there yet, but that will be amazing if that starts working.
And there's a lot of limitations to that. Some of them are related to the Internet, some of them are just hardware and the cost of running that stuff.
I'm not competent enough to give suggestions to people that are focused on that, because they know so much better.
But the Metaverse, latency is a big problem, obviously.
If we could just stream everything and not have everything run on people's devices, that would unlock a lot of stuff.
We could have small devices, small glasses, that render everything on the go or stream it.
But honestly, I won't be able to say anything meaningful for people that actually know what they're talking about.
For your business, cloud storage prices are important, for example?
Not really. For our business, we can work with the world of today.
We have 4,000 people that use our routers today. There's no clear technological barrier to doing what we do today.
It's just the better the tech around us gets, the more people will use it, the more people will get into the world.
It will be a better experience for end users, so it will be a better business for everyone involved.
We're not hitting the wall with any specific technology or limitations at the moment.
All the stuff happening around us is just like a tailwind. It just makes things better.
We signed 450 companies this month, or last month, and there's a lot of stuff there.
Education is kind of surprising. I was using education a lot, actually, like virtual classrooms and virtual training and all kinds of apps that teach kids math and all kinds of other stuff.
That was pretty interesting. There's a lot of fitness, which is slightly surprising, maybe.
I don't know. There's a lot of things that we couldn't have thought about ourselves, and that's the fun of being an enabler.
We just give people routers and get excited about what they do with them.