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Venture Capitalists (VCs) & Angel Investors share their investing thesis, screening process, value-add, exits, and more. Hosted by Prashant Choubey (@ChoubeySahab)

  • venture-capital
  • seed
  • pre-seed
  • early-stage-investing

Metaverse, Gaming & Web3 with Eze Vidra, Managing Partner at Remagine Ventures

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Eze is co-founder and Managing Partner at Remagine Ventures. Previously, he was a General Partner at Google Ventures (GV), Alphabet’s venture capital arm, the European head of Google for Entrepreneurs and the founding head of Campus London, Google’s first physical hub for startups, now available in 7 countries and 30 partner hubs. While at Google, Eze spearheaded strategic commerce partnerships in EMEA, and helped launch Google Shopping, Local Shopping, and Google Wallet in various European markets. At Remagine, he's investing in seed/pre-seed startups in the interactive entertainment, meta verse, and consumer tech with a focus on Israel.

We talk about:

  1. Eze’s story & how he started investing? 
  2. What is the metaverse?
  3. Is too much connectedness good or bad?
  4. 3 Pillars of the Metaverse
  5. Why so bullish on the gaming industry?
  6. What type of games is Remagine Ventures most likely to back?
  7. Will Facebook dominate the Metaverse?
  8. Rapid Fire Round

Eze’s story & how he started investing? 

I actually started my career year as an entrepreneur. I co-founded a startup in the last year of college while working at another tech company. I developed myself mainly as a product manager, and as a product manager at Israeli that moves to New York. I wanted to keep in touch with the local ecosystem, and I started blogging about startups and venture capital. Not very different than what you're doing with this podcast.

And that's how I got to meet a lot of people and fast forward. I was fortunate enough to be asked by friends who I was helping in various capacities if I wanted to join the rounds as an investor, as an advisor. And that's how I first got my feet wet in investing. But ultimately, my first investing role was as a General Partner for Google Ventures, helping Google Ventures open their European office. And of course, I only got to get the full experience as the co-founder and Managing Partner of Remagine Ventures, which is my current fund investing in early stage startups in the space of gaming, metaverse, and consumer tech.

What is the metaverse?

That's the billion dollar question. Because today it's very hard to put one definition on it, but a lot of people describe it as the future of the Internet. And it's essentially a way for us to collaborate, play, socialize in a virtual immersive environment that gives us the freedom to do all those things versus sort of like consuming the Internet as the one way, sort of like read only flat screen. So for today, a lot of those conditions for immersive experiences happen in the world of gaming. So gaming has become a major portal into this future technologies.

But metaverse is in a simplistic way, it's somewhere an intersection between sort of like gaming and social immersive technologies, some web3, and there are some parts of the decentralized web that fits into that. And it's part of a consumer trend that we spend much more time online than ever before. If you think about compare consumer usage habits from 1999 to 2022, the growth in Internet time that we spend is exponential, not linear. And we got used to doing a lot of the things that we were used to doing in the real world, also to do them online, from playing to socializing to dating to commerce and you name it.

So it's very natural that we will continue to spend more time online, and that we'll continue to spend money online. And there's a lot of new technologies that need to be invented for us to have it be a great experience. So it might be a long answer, but there's a lot of misconceptions about what the meta verse is and the reality is that no one can really agree on a definition today. 

Is too much connectedness good or bad?

 If you've read Snow Crash, which is the book that coined the term, Neal Stephenson, the author, coined the term metaverse over 30 years ago. Or I think it was actually published in 1982, which is crazy, sort of like how much foresight there was.

But if you watch the movie Ready Player One, it seems like a very apocalyptic, sad version of the future. To be honest. I don't think any of us should be wanting that future for us where you don't even know that you're connected. And it also implies the metaverse is VR where you're disconnected from the world.

I think the reality is that today it's sort of like we're in the very early days, the very early evenings of this space and it's mostly how we spend our leisure time and it's mostly around play and entertainment. Although I do see huge use cases in education, in health and in other professional environments where you're able to simulate the real world in the metaverse and therefore actually shorten the time it takes to do certain things like train employees or solve a problem remotely or help people with mental health get over fears, et cetera, et cetera.

So I don't know to tell you how many hours a day we will spend in the metaverse. I also read the reports like everyone else and there's different assumptions. But I also do think that there are certain things and consumer behaviors that maybe 10 years ago we would have thought are crazy and today are not so crazy.

For example, in the future it's very likely to assume that people will be paid money to play games, right? Like people will have a job as gamers and with play to earn and crypto gaming we already see the beginnings of it, right? If I told you 10 years ago they would say okay, gaming is a leisure activity, it can't be a job but now those things are changing.

To cast content into these virtual worlds and virtual environments we're going to need to democratize the content creation process from companies to people and in order to do that you're going to need new content creation tools, distribution, monetization, et cetera. And I think the Metaverse offers a lot of opportunities for creators to basically enable to have a direct relationship with consumers to monetize sort of like their fan base to sell virtual goods and to do all these things. And I think that a lot of these technologies that are going to get invented in this space will probably make us spend more time and more of our activities online. 

3 Pillars of the Metaverse

I think the Metaverse is an amorphic term because we're in the early stages of it and it's hard to agree on one definition. There's many misconceptions about what the Metaverse represents. The reality is there's intersections with every one of those three pillar. But the Metaverse is not just gaming it's not just crypto or NFT, it's not just like Social or VR but there are parts of it, there are parts of it that aren't.

So we look at investing in this space a bit like an onion. So at the center of all of this is the consumer and when the markets are large enough we like to invest in consumer gaming is a good example. You can invest in a gaming company and it can become a big business that goes public or sort of like sells for a lot of money. And look at Activision acquired by Microsoft for 70 billion which was the most lucrative exit in gaming.

So consumer experiences at the center all the way like the outer rings of this onion is infrastructure and infrastructure can be sort of in the decentralized metiverse or decentralized web. It can be sort of like blockchain innovation or ways to create transactions between parties that can be anonymous and then sort of like remotely without the need of authentication or third parties, etc.

Then in the middle of it we sort of like see enabling technologies powering a lot of these consumer trends. So it can be tools for content creation, it can be immersive technology for sensing, for discovery, for being able to create and sell assets, can be smart glasses or software for these glasses, etc.

So there's a whole world of applications that falls into these categories and it ranges from in some cases content because at the end of the day gaming is more of a content investment rather than a tech investment and sort of like all the way out in infrastructure it can be payments. Identity. Security. Cloud infrastructure networks and then in the middle you sort of like have marketplaces. Discovery tools. AI services. Automation so that the range is quite significant. 

Why so bullish on the gaming industry?

Gaming is the leading form of entertainment for anyone 50 and below. There are 3.5 billion gamers worldwide and it's no longer sort of like this niche gen Z only type of activity. It goes from sort of like moms to young people to old people, etc. And as an industry it's bigger than TV, film and music combined.

Although the numbers are changing constantly. So maybe you need to check if it's still accurate, at least that used to be the case. But gaming companies will forecast to bring something like 188 billion in 2022 in revenue this year. In the last quarter in fact, we're seeing a tiny bit of shake or a small reduction because of the rise in inflation and cuts in consumer discretionary spend.

But gaming is generally speaking more recession proof because people in times of recession or in times of tough markets seek this escapism and the positivity that gaming brings. So we're looking at gaming in a broad stroke, sort of like not just gaming studios and content but also gaming infrastructure, gaming creation tools, sort of like gaming plus metaverse gaming plus crypto which is crypto gaming or play to earn, et cetera. And once again the range is immense.

We've taken several bets directly as Remagine Ventures into gaming from a company called Rebel Bots which is creating a play to earn game excellent team that's exercise another company called Sneaky Panda. Again, serial entrepreneurs in the gaming space creating a new genre in mobile casual gaming which is Lack Puzzler. It's a combination between luck elements and puzzle games which is a genre of gaming toya which creates experiences for girls in the Metaverse, partnering with female IP holder to bring these experiences into the Metaverse and their first hit game is Miraculous Ladybug which received over 350,000,000 plays without spending a dime on marketing.

So that's really exciting because in the past you needed to spend most of your budget to acquire those 350,000,000 players and today they hang out in places like Roblox which is a virtual world for kids and teens and if the game is engaging it will get all the traffic that it requires. 

What type of games is Remagine Ventures most likely to back?

Until now we did mainly mobile or infrastructure for gaming, triple A games which are sort of like the console games or PC games that can be amazing as a consumer experience. I grew up on those and loved every bit of it. It's a slightly different type of investment because it's more like a king to a movie where there's huge production costs upfront and then also the payout potential is much higher.

But for us the feedback loop on AAA tends to be a bit too long. So we focus mainly on sort of like mobile consumer experiences or games in virtual worlds. I think that there are some interesting challenges that crypto gaming or blockchain gaming actually bring in terms of innovation into investing into gaming. Happy to jump into that if that's interesting, but we're very curious about that space.

On the infrastructure side, I think that there's a lot to do as well from managing 3D content in the cloud. A company we invested in is called Echo 3D. It's a CDN and CMS for 3D content and recently raised a strategic rounded by Qualcomm Ventures. The first investment from their new Metaverse fund also like training for gamers, helping people who want to become better in gaming improve by understanding their weaknesses in the game and creating personalized training drills. It's a company called Novos GG and therefore we try to pick something special about the gaming investments we make and typically not to do yet another fill the gap. 

Will Facebook dominate the Metaverse?

I published a post about the ten companies investing billions into making the Metaverse. I mean, they changed the name because they see themselves transforming into a full Metaverse, a reality. And I would put Facebook or Meta very high on that list company within five years. And to be honest, I give them a lot of credit for pushing the boundaries of innovation and also bringing these innovations to the consumers.

So the Meta Quest Two is the most popular VR headset, they're creating some very cool haptic technology, et cetera. But I think it's too early to say will they be successful or not. I think that Facebook as a company, as a brand has taken a huge beating from the public after Cambridge Analytica and different scandals with fake news, et cetera, consumer trust has eroded.

Facebook platform that enabled the growth of companies like Zynga, which was recently acquired by Take Two kids, sort of like was built on Facebook platform. But the problem with relying on platforms, and this is also a warning that we give our founders when we invest in a company that is one platform reliant, is that when the platform sneezes, you catch pneumonia.

So there are risks with building on platforms and therefore I think people have gone through these cycles enough times that they are a bit cautious, but it doesn't take an inch of credit out of what Facebook is trying to do and we watch it closely. And to be honest, I think that they're doing some very interesting things with the horizon worlds, with their hardware initiatives and how they're looking at the space.

Rapid Fire Round

Industry/sectors/regions you invest in?

We invest in gaming, metadata and consumer tech, both content and infrastructure, primarily in Israel. Two, we're expanding also into the UK and will open a London office.

What stage you typically invest in?

Seed and pre-seed. We tend to be the first institutional investor in companies. So we come either with the angels or right after the angels. And we then follow on and sort of like help the company pass the most dangerous parts from precedent to Series A.

What’s the typical check size?

We've done anything from 300,000 to a million and a half, but sweet spot is probably a million.

Where can founders pitch you?

Founders that want to talk to me should find a way to get to me. It's not that difficult. They can pitch me via email, eze@remagineventures.com. They can DM me on Twitter, they can find me on LinkedIn or they can get an intro. But I think when capital is commoditized, it should be easy to reach, not difficult.

Where can they follow you and your blog?

My blog is at vccafe.com. I also publish a weekly newsletter called Firgun, which is congratulating all the Israeli startups that raise money, exited new funds, et cetera. And I highly recommend you follow me on LinkedIn and of course Twitter, which is more of a stream of consciousness. I'm at @ediggs.


Remagine Ventures website

Read Eze's blog at VC Cafe

Subscribe to Eze's Newsletter Firgun

Follow Eze on Linkedin

Follow Eze on Twitter

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