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Ethereum Co-Founder Joe Lubin: Today's Metaverse Is Internet Circa 1994, But the Masses Are Coming

The ConsenSys CEO believes augmented and virtual experiences will redefine daily life, despite current technical challenges.

3 min read
ConsenSys CEO Joseph Lubin (right) speaks at Camp Ethereal 2022. Image: Decrypt

Joe Lubin, the Ethereum co-founder and CEO of crypto software giant ConsenSys, is confident that the metaverse will one day encompass the full human experience. But he’s equally confident that day is still years away. 

“I think [using the metaverse today] is a little bit like logging on to the internet in 1994,” Lubin told Decrypt in an exclusive video interview earlier this month. “Where you would dial the internet, and I used to go get a coffee and breakfast and then I’d come back, and my email would be downloaded.”

Though Lubin acknowledges that the user experience currently offered by metaverse projects is comparably clunky, he’s adamant that the metaverse—a future, immersive version of the internet—will become as ubiquitous as email.

“The experience of being in Web3 isn't as compelling as it will be pretty soon,” Lubin said. “That's when the masses will be there.”

The ConsenSys CEO’s comments come during a period of unprecedented interest in the metaverse from some of the most powerful companies in the world. Meta, formerly Facebook, has fully reoriented its efforts towards dominating the metaverse; Apple and Disney are quietly exploring the space; even traditional brick-and-mortar brands like WalMart are diving in, head-first. 

Despite forays into virtual worlds by mega-corporations and web3-native companies alike, however, the metaverse still has yet to catch on as the accessible, entertaining, and smooth-functioning virtual haven it was initially promised to be.

For example, despite going all-in on the metaverse, Meta has only staggering losses in the tens of billions to show for its work. A report surfaced earlier this month that the division responsible for building Meta’s virtual reality platform, Horizon Worlds, has entered a ‘quality lockdown’ until the end of the year, as the platform is so unpopular and difficult to navigate that even Meta’s own employees won’t use it. 

Some have attributed these early bumps in the road to the simple fact that technology needs to spend a few years catching up to the ambitions of metaverse builders before immersive online worlds can truly flourish. Lubin’s Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has stated that while he believes the metaverse will one day dominate commerce and culture, he doesn’t believe “any of the existing corporate attempts to intentionally create the metaverse are going anywhere.”

Lubin similarly thinks that current understandings of the metaverse, and attempts at building it, may not end up working out the first time around. But that doesn’t mean he’s any less bullish on the promise of platforms that facilitate an immersive online existence. 

“Call it the metaverse, we will spend a lot of our time online,” Lubin said. “And our money and our work and our activities will be realized in either augmented reality or virtual reality, or at least with tools that enable us to live rich and hopefully compelling experiences online.”

(Disclosure: ConsenSys is one of 22 strategic investors in Decrypt.)

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