- Michael Gord is a co-founder of Metaverse Group, a virtual real estate company based in Canada.
- Gord breaks down the recent grab for digital properties, which sold for over $100 million last week.
- He also explains why he thinks the metaverse opportunity could grow 200x in the next 16 months.
One day in 2012, Michael Gord read a Wired article titled “The Rise and Fall of Bitcoin.” After six months of intense research, he decided that bitcoin was “the most exciting technology in the world” and became an “evangelist” for the digital currency.
Since then, Gord has focused on accelerating the mass adoption of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, but that hasn’t always been easy.
“My entire professional career, I’ve been told I’m crazy by my friends, my family, and everyone,” he told Insider in an interview. “I’ve reached the point in my career where if somebody wants to tell me I’m wrong, then that’s fine.”
The shift in his mindset could prove useful as he tries to build one of the world’s first virtual real estate companies or, as Gord calls it, “the Brookfield for virtual space.”
The once niche and esoteric idea of buying and selling metaverse land has become more mainstream recently amid Facebook’s corporate name rebrand to Meta and the boom in non-fungible tokens. Metaverse lands where artists can perform, brands can advertise, and businesses can host meetings have seen record transaction volumes recently.
Last week alone, more than $100 million worth of metaverse land was sold as NFTs in metaverses including the sandbox (SAND), decentraland (MANA), CryptoVoxels, and Somnium Space, according to DappRadar.
Gord’s firm Metaverse Group, which sold a 50% stake to Tokens.com for $1.7 million, last week bought a plot of digital land in decentraland for $2.43 million. Another plot of virtual land was sold for $2.3 million on Axie Infinity, a play-to-earn platform, in the same week.
Why are virtual lands being sold for millions?
The sudden boom in virtual real estate investing strikes many investors as speculative and unsustainable, yet Gord said the trend is early enough that purchasing virtual lands is almost equivalent to buying pixels of a website in the early days of the internet, which was not possible.
“Instead of advertising space, instead of paying per eyeball, if you could actually purchase the ownership of that space and you were able to buy real estate on websites that would continue to be Facebook or really dominant networks in the world,” he said, “your ownership of the real estate in Facebook would be priceless.”
Gord’s firm manages a portfolio of virtual real estate assets spread across decentraland and the sandbox, with most of the digital properties located in decentraland for the time being.
He first discovered decentraland during the initial-coin-offering craze in 2017 but passed on it given the technology was not mature at the time. In early 2020, seeing how the pandemic drove people to spend most of their time online, Gord started buying MANA, the native token of decentraland, at around 2 cents. The token, which was trading at $4.2 as of Friday afternoon in New York, has surged 34% in the past month and 4,493% over the past year, according to CoinGecko pricing.
Gord is betting on decentraland to become the “most valuable social network in the world,” surpassing Facebook, WeChat, and WhatsApp because the metaverse will not simply function as a communication tool.
“If we are doing fashion shows, concerts, or conferences in the metaverse, that will attract tens of thousands of people in the short term,” he said. “But in the medium to long term, I think it’s reasonably likely that there could be tens of millions of people signing into these experiences.”
Decentraland has already seen the number of users on its platform grow more than 30 times to 384,000 at the end of November from 16,000 at the beginning of the year, according to Gord.
In his view, another factor contributing to the multi-million-dollar price target of metaverse lands is scarcity. For example, decentraland is comprised of over 90,000 parcels of land, each of them 50 feet by 50 feet.
Of course, the scarcity value depends on how much demand there is. “If decentraland has people that can sign in from anywhere around the world, I think it’s reasonably likely that there becomes a bigger business hub in decentraland than any city,” Gord said.
‘The potential in the metaverse is 200x in 16 months’
Similar to commercial real estate investing in the real world, Gord and his team evaluate the location, foot traffic, proximity to downtown, the value of past transactions, and the size of the plots before making an offer for any digital properties.
With 17 properties, the company plans to put on more fashion shows in the metaverses and rent out spaces to blue-chip brands, which can showcase their NFT wearables such as an NFT luxury handbag.
“We do have literally hundreds of people per day reaching out about renting,” he said, adding that the cheapest parcel of land in decentraland remains around $20,000 today.
Amid the virtual land grab, the $53 billion digital asset manager Grayscale Investments said the metaverse has the potential to become a $1 trillion annual revenue opportunity. Ark Invest CEO Cathie Wood made an even bigger call, saying that the metaverse could become a multi-trillion-dollar market.
To Gord, the metaverse feels like bitcoin in 2012.
“I think that the potential in the metaverse is 200x in 16 months,” he said. “I mean, this should be at least as big as the internet.”
‘Is it a bubble? Absolutely’
Despite the multi-million-dollar transactions, some bullish crypto investors are not betting on the current boom in metaverse land sales to last.
“Is it a bubble? Absolutely. It’s a bubble just like any housing bubble,” Jordan Fried, CEO of Immutable Holdings, told Insider. “There are not enough players of decentraland or enough eyeballs in the game to warrant these kinds of prices today. It’s pure speculation, a frenzy, and a fear of missing out.”
However, he thinks the metaverse trend is real and emblematic of the opportunities that will emerge as consumers spend more time online.
“It shouldn’t seem unreasonable that someone is willing to spend $4,000 for a virtual Gucci bag in the game Roblox even though that wasn’t an NFT,” he said. “If you are spending so much time in Roblox, you really want a nice item that displays status like wearing a Rolex or Gucci bag does in real life.”