Primavera De Filippi: “Metaverse is the new website”

American magazine Luck named her one of the 40 most influential people under 40 in fintech. A lawyer by training, an artist who has advocated for an “open” Internet and blockchain-based new democratic governance for many years, Primavera De Filippi will be one of the star guests at the USI conference on June 27 and 28. at the Palais Brongniart in Paris (usievents.com), partnered by L’Express. She explains to us why the technological innovations created by Web3 represent a “revolution of power”.

L’Express: Blockchain, NFT, DeFi, DAO, Metaverse… “Web3” brings up a lot of terms that are still unclear to most of the population. So let’s start with pedagogy: for you, what exactly does this expression cover?

Primavera De Filippi: We’ve reached a stage where everything fits together, everything intersects, and it becomes difficult to define the exact contours of what is called “Web3”. To me, the term covers any web interface that interacts with some form of blockchain infrastructure. But we can put it more simply: Network1 was a read-limited network; Web2 has been enriched by writing with the introduction of interactive platforms that encourage users to create content. Web3 is a new stage, a decentralized web. Users are not only readers and contributors, but they can also claim ownership of the resources they interact with… Through the blockchain, they are given the opportunity to reclaim the value they have provided so far for free on the Internet. This is a potential revolution.

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The Metaverse, this rapidly developing virtual world, will become its integral part. How do you see its development and structuring in the coming years?

First we need to make a distinction between Web3 and the Metaverse. It’s not the same. What characterizes the metaverse is the concepts of territories, displacements, displacements. Spatiality outside the physical world, through virtual or augmented reality, which the Internet absolutely cannot offer. It remains to be seen what we will do with this… We are currently in some sort of rudimentary phase that takes us back to the era of BBS (bulletin board systems), before the Internet, when we connected to servers. rooms that form their own small digital universe and do not interact with each other.

The metaverse – or rather, the metaverse – is a bit similar to today: entering it, you find yourself in a world completely disconnected from the rest, and you do not have the opportunity to exchange messages, transfer resources to another virtual system. We’re still really in a shaky, limited model where we’re losing all the benefits of the Internet, namely interoperability, the ability to seamlessly move from one universe to another. That’s why I think we won’t be able to resist the urge to open up and create systems that are increasingly interconnected and compatible with each other. This is, I would say, a natural bias. But we cannot rule out that a major dominant player imposes its vision and its model by deploying a platform so powerful and dominant that it will no longer need to interact with others. The equivalent of Facebook in the days of Web2.

But by its very nature, blockchain technology and philosophy tends towards a very decentralized model. One would like to say that the new ecosystem will definitely reject attempts of this kind …

This is not accurate, and from this point of view we live in an interesting time; sooner or later there will be this bifurcation, the inevitable confrontation between a very decentralized model, interconnected as the Internet promised to be, and a dominant model with two or three large mainstream platforms, along with niche platforms that will not play on the same platform. field and will not be able to compete. Once in place, will the giant platforms accept other people’s objects, their resources? That’s the whole question. And contrary to what one might think, the fact that blockchain is used is not in itself a guarantee of an open and decentralized approach. Look at what’s happening in Sandbox and Decentraland: these decentralized platforms don’t recognize objects between themselves… As a player, if you acquire such and such an object in their metaverses, you can view it in one, but not in the other. another. This proves that the battle for interoperability is not won.

Today we see a string of announcements from big brands willing to spend a fortune to buy virtual land. Aside from a marketing coup, what does that mean?

First of all, we can see the communication operations. But these brands are doing nothing: there is already a huge market in the metaverse. People spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to dress up their avatar. When American rapper Lil Nas X held a concert at Roblox, he made more money from merchandising. for viewer avatars than by selling tickets. Gucci, a pioneer in this field, released a digital bag on Roblox that was bought at a higher price than the physical bag sold in stores!

Fashion is a matter of status. If we start spending time in the metaverse, selling avatar accessories will become a very good business. Another option for brands is to sell coupons for purchases in the virtual universe. Bozon, for example, is building the Metaverse mall. What is the idea? Instead of browsing through an e-commerce site and ordering clothes in a few clicks, you are offered a completely different experience: you walk through a virtual store, find the right clothes, try them on your avatar, buy them and have them mailed to you. The Metaverse is a new website. Now it looks a bit ridiculous, but a few years ago no one would have imagined that they would buy a pair of shoes on the Internet. Now everyone does it.

Beyond the metaverse, what initiatives and innovations do you see as the most promising in Web3 today?

Everything related to decentralized finance is absolutely fascinating. DeFi replicates all the functionality of financial applications, all ways of trading and financing without having to rely on centralized institutions. On all links of the chain, everything that you can imagine in traditional financial markets is being recreated decentralized thanks to the blockchain. Very interesting NFT projects are also emerging (Editor’s note, non-fungible tokens). In both cases, we can already talk about a fairly massive implementation. The rest, everything that revolves around DAO, these decentralized autonomous organizations governed by “smart contracts”, is extremely promising and innovative. But that’s still reserved for the “geek” communities.

Overall, should companies expect Web3 to completely change their business models?

The promise of Web3 is the disappearance of intermediaries, the idea that in the future everything can be done peer-to-peer, but this is not true … There is no complete elimination of intermediaries. However, the cost distribution will change. Today, the dominant model is “crowdsourcing”: large Internet platforms do not produce value themselves, they coordinate and aggregate what their users provide to them; it’s the business heart of every Airbnb, Uber, Facebook and Twitter on the planet…

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The intermediary in these particular cases monopolizes the entire value; the user not only provides him with resources, but in addition, he must pay to use his services! Can we imagine tomorrow systems that provide a fairer form of redistribution? With Web3, I think so, through tokens, dividends or governance rights. That’s the whole point. This is not a complete revolution, but a profound evolution: we will no longer tolerate the confiscation of everything by a centralized operator.


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