We sat down with Phil Ranta to get the inside scoop about being a futurist in the bleeding edge tech realm, Wormhole Labs’ pivot from B2C to B2B due to COVID-19, the metaverse future, what brands should do today to get prepared and much much more.
Phil is a pioneer of the digital media revolution, working as a pre-YouTube professional web video producer in 2005, video content app creator before the smartphone revolution in 2007, an early exec in the MCN boom with two successful exits, and as the Head Gaming Creators at Facebook and Mobcrush, driving the live streaming and the creator-driven media paradigm shift. Currently, as CEO of Wormhole Labs, Phil is helping to create a live simulation of the real world created by the power of the crowd.
You can listen to the episode here:
Phil shares his thoughts on the following topics…
Is metaverse the future?: [04:08]
“I think there's going to be many metaverse companies….The dynamics of the metaverses are going to be, you know, there's going to be a few mainstream ones that are going to be kind of like your social networks, like your Facebook, your Pinterest, your Snapchat, and then there's probably going to be more niche ones that are gonna feed specific things...I think that there's gonna be thousands and thousands of metaverse in the future, but through those will arise a few massive ones that are going to become ubiquitous, where everybody's going to be part of one metaverse, but they might not spend as much time there”
How COVID-19 caused Wormhole Labs to pivot from B2C to B2B? [11:15]
“If you look at what our technology really does, it's about being out in the world. It's about going to big events and having those kinds of people at big events, making content for you. So in the real world you could drop in, right? When the lockdown started happening, we all had to take a hard look in the mirror and say, well, how does Wormhole exist in a COVID world?... so our first product that we brought out to market is actually a real estate application for virtual open housing...We still plan on doing a full go to market with. B2C play. But right now we've got really interesting B2B applications that we're building out for real estate, travel, and retail... we just made it very, very simple. We realized that a lot of agents and home buyers are not gamers and are Luddites. We wanted to make a very complex idea very simple”
Biggest inspiration: [30:57]
“I am incredibly inspired by Airdrop, which sounds so boring, but it's also so true, but the idea that you and I, because of our proximity, you can say, oh, just take a picture. Just Airdrop me that photo. And because of our proximity and us knowing each other, and we'll say Phil Ranta wants to Airdrop David this picture, and then I Airdrop in..Like I can imagine going to a conference and instead of holding up my phone and being able to like, see somebody right there and because they're also a Wormholer, it being able to say like, oh, this person is also at the conference click here, and then you can check out their LinkedIn profile - If you can really nail that, it changes the way we do conventions, right? I am no longer going up to everybody and trying to bravely say hi, nice to meet you. Instead, just being able to walk up and say, Hey, I know a little context about you, you know, a little context about me.”
Three pieces of advice for anyone wanting to work in bleeding-edge tech [43:00]
David Tintner: All right. We are joined today with an awesome guest. Phil Ranta, the CEO of wormhole labs. Phil. I've been really excited to get the opportunity to talk to you. I'm a big fan of you on LinkedIn and everything that you're doing to keep me up to speed on the industry. And when I say the industry, I mean, multiple industries, you seem like the guy who knows a lot about a lot of things.
David Tintner: So we have a lot to talk about today. Thank you very much for joining us,
Phil Ranta: David. Thank you for having me. It's a real pleasure. So
David Tintner: Phil, before we get into it too much, uh, can you just give everyone a quick background on, on what you've been [00:01:00] up to these past 10 years?
Phil Ranta: Oh, yeah, geez. Um, 10 years, that's a, that's a long window, but, uh, so I've spent my career working at the intersection of entertainment and technology.
Phil Ranta: Um, mostly on social platform. So 15 years ago I was doing my space profiles for brands and Mobis soda for Verizon. So I've gone through all the way through ringtone, uh, ringtone and wallpaper revolution on mobile all the way through the influencer revolution. Um, where my career really started to take off as in 2012, I was one of the first employees at a company called Fullscreen, um, which was a very early what we called multi-channel network at that time where we started working with YouTube influencers, um, to manage their careers, grow them on social platforms and kind of use their collective bargaining to do larger sales.
Phil Ranta: Um, and that company had a very splashy growth and exit then I joined a studio. 71 is the COO, which was also a multi-channel network. Working with YouTubers, [00:02:00] a little more high-end YouTubers and brought that exit to proceed. Even then I jumped into game streaming over at mob crush, and then I became the head of gaming creators over at Facebook, where I got to work with and signed Ronda Rousey and disguise toast and, a few others there.
Phil Ranta: and then I left Facebook game. For my current position where I'm the CEO at wormhole labs, which is a user generated metaverse company. So I feel like I've always kind of lived on that cutting edge of new technologies, hockey, sticking markets, especially as mark Zuckerberg or a couple of weeks ago, came out and said that Facebook is becoming a metaverse company.
Phil Ranta: I sit in a really interesting place now as somebody who just left Facebook about a year ago to, run a metaverse company. So it's been a lot of fun, its been a ride
David Tintner: it definitely sounds like it. that's, uh, the who's who's list of every, you know, company that's been really in the middle of the, changing creator landscape [00:03:00] and why us for the last 10 years?
David Tintner: I mean, it just, the creator landscape has just been on fire since then, and you've been deep in the middle of it. Alot of unpacking and basically your career path up until now. But the thing that jumps out to me is, is you said a few times in the metaverse right. And you joined a metaverse company and you're now building out the metaverse.
David Tintner: What is your definition of the metaverse?
Phil Ranta: so I consider a metaverse to be a navigable virtual world with social components that you can navigate as an avatar so this could be anything from games that have social elements built into it, like Roblox or Fortnite or Minecraft, or among us all the way to a fully virtualized layer on top of the real world like we're doing at wormhole or what a lot of AR VR and XR companies are trying to do.
Phil Ranta: So it's essentially this concept that in the future, We're going to be able to live inside of a virtual space to meet chat, shop, play, date, [00:04:00] uh, play games, you know, um, kind of like ready player one.
David Tintner: You led me right into my next question. Is that the future that we're heading towards, if there will be this kind of a oasis like, um, single destination metaverse or will it be what the environment kind of looks like today, where there's many different companies, each attacking it from a kind of different angle?
Phil Ranta: I think there's going to be many metaverse companies. I kind of look at it like dating apps, right? It's like all dating apps have the same. ends or at least similar ends, right? Some of them might approach it from a different angle. Right? Some might be, I'm going to find someone I marry. Some might be I'm looking for a hookup, but there's kind of a spectrum there, but they just come about it from different angles and those different angles will feed what the person wants more like, do they want simplicity?
Phil Ranta: Do they want a deeper dive? Do they want more exclusivity? Do they want more choice? Do they want more attention? The dynamics of the metaverses are going to be. [00:05:00] you know, there's going to be a few mainstream ones that are going to be kind of like your social networks, like your Facebook, your Pinterest, your Snapchat, and then there's probably going to be more niche ones that are gonna feed specific things.
Phil Ranta: Like is there going to be a metaverse where everybody is an animal? Is there going to be ones with more light gaming features and less social features? I think that there's gonna be. Thousands and thousands of metaverse in the future, but through those will arise a few massive ones that are going to become ubiquitous, where everybody's going to be part of one metaverse, but they might not spend as much time there.
David Tintner: It seems like some companies are. Going for the more platform, metaverse as a platform approach, if you will, where they're kind of giving this platform and then leaving it up to, people themselves to build what they want inside of it. So your example, I guess that would be all right. I will build my own Minecraft server that is like this, or, um, or, or take a specific direction within it.
David Tintner: How [00:06:00] are you guys looking at that?
Phil Ranta: Yeah. I mean, that's the reason why we decided that we were going to build an entirely user-generated metaverse so everything from the environments to the videos that are placed inside everything's user-generated much like Facebook is an entirely user-generated social network, right?
Phil Ranta: Like the feed would be empty if not for the people. The reason why we're taking that approach is because there's, there's a lot of companies out there like Fortnite or even Roblox where it's user generated, but it takes quite a technical lift in order to build those environments. The dynamism of the real world, I think is enough, right?
Phil Ranta: Like being able to say, oh, Coachella is going on. I want to enter this metaverse wormhole over to Coachella is my avatar and see what content people are developing and chat with people that are actually there and through voice chat or text. Right. Like, to me, that's really, really valuable and interesting.
Phil Ranta: And it's something that can never be replicated by a developer. [00:07:00] Right. I love games that are MMO RPGs like our open-world like fallout where you're talking to these NPCs and they've got really interesting stuff to say. I think that those worlds are going to have a real use in the future.
Phil Ranta: But when you're looking for the kind of, how do you gain that ubiquity? I think that you have to have real world impact, right? I have to be able to go to the shops, ceilings and walk down the street and shop. And I have to be able to like go into the world cup and see what's happening there, or my favorite WWE events and see what's happening there.
Phil Ranta: So we want to capture that and let other people build those really interesting meta verses that are more virtualized.
David Tintner: So can you explain what exactly you guys have built?
Phil Ranta: Yeah, absolutely. So we built as a platform that acts as a layer on top of the real world. So using AR and location-based services, I can generate locations by holding up my smart device and spinning around in a circle and creating what we call a smart bubble, which is a imagery of a location [00:08:00] that's linked to a actual spatial location.
Phil Ranta: Um, that also brings in all the ambient data. So if somebody say shot a video through wormhole there, it brings that in as an interactive element, or if people are already there as avatars, they become interactive elements. And then within this kind of lively world that was created through that smart bubble, people can voice chat.
Phil Ranta: People can text chat, people can become friends. brands can drop in, shoppable links. You can make any video. Shoppable is. Um, and we're just continuing to build out interesting layers on top of that, where people can have different points of interactivity by navigating smart bubble, the smart bubble through this
David Tintner: world.
David Tintner: This is so cool. And I mean, it really feels like the future as you're describing it.
Phil Ranta: We certainly hope so. Yeah. I mean, this is the funny thing when you're building bleeding edge tech, as I told you a lot about my successes in my career. Conveniently left off some of the failures. Right. And the reason why is because [00:09:00] when you're doing really cutting edge tech that you know, is the future.
Phil Ranta: There's a lot of competition because other futurists know that that, the way things are heading, right? So they're going to compete with you. And also you can have the problem of being too early. That's the reason why we built out on smart devices first, instead of say AR glasses, even though we know that's an inevitable part of the future, We wanted to build for the now so that we can see if we can build a little bit of ubiquity and scale now.
Phil Ranta: so we're taking the best crack that we can at it. We know there's a lot of other smart people that are out there and hopefully we nail it. I always tell the story that I started a podcast network in 2011 called comedy podcast network. Everyone thought that I was an idiot. They said like, oh, podcasts already had their day from 2005 to 2008 video is where it's going.
Phil Ranta: Why would you do this? And the truth is. Believe it or not. I was early right. Podcast networks were a 2014 to now kind of thing. And I couldn't get any advertisers on board and [00:10:00] I couldn't get any premium podcast to get excited about getting advertised on board. And, you know, like we, you can't really define that stuff.
Phil Ranta: So all we can do is build out the best technology platform where you can go to market the smartest way and see, see where the chips land.
David Tintner: So it sounds like that's a really tough challenge for you to. You need to be building cutting edge technology stuff that no one else has built or no one else has successfully done yet at the same time as finding the right place to, to not go too advanced, to go after a large enough market.
David Tintner: So it sounds like your, the decisions there have been, we're going to go, we're not going to build a hardware. Let's say we're going to use, um, phones, smartphones today, and we're going to build, uh, the software and the application. And that's where the cutting edge tech is.
Phil Ranta: Yes, absolutely. And frankly, Corona virus has been a pretty big blocker for us.
Phil Ranta: So I joined wormhole labs about a month before the whole world locked down. And at [00:11:00] that point we said, Okay. Maybe this'll last three months. If you look at what our technology really does, it's about being out in the world. It's about going to big events and having those kinds of people at big events, making content for you.
Phil Ranta: So in the real world you could drop in, right? When the lockdown started happening, we all had to take a hard look in the mirror and say, well, how does wormhole exist in a COVID world? Because this could go on for a long time, which ended up being true so our first product that we brought out to market is actually a real estate application for virtual open housing, because we thought that it would be both insensitive and dangerous to put out a kind of advanced extension thing and encourage people to go to a big events during coronavirus.
Phil Ranta: So we have that built. We still plan on doing a full go to market with. B2C play. But right now we've got really interesting B2B applications that we're building out for real estate travel and retail.
David Tintner: That's an [00:12:00] unbelievable pivot. how long did that take to be able to make those decisions and actually get something out?
Phil Ranta: The decision was made pretty quickly. we made it summer of last year, cause we were planning on doing a full B2C release summer of last year. And we just went that this is happening right. Coronavirus. Isn't going on. Um, but then in order to build out what we think needed the features we needed in order to fully address the B2B market, it took about nine months of going back and talking to our investors and saying, look, we have to pivot, and this is the direction we're pivoting to.
Phil Ranta: And it's still smart. And we're still able to do our B2C thing in the future. So don't worry about it. It was a lot of really hard conversations because a lot of investors want, they investedto follow the current roadmap. And when you start deviating from the roadmap, they go, whoa, whoa, wait a second. I thought that billion dollars was going to come at the end of this year.
Phil Ranta: You're telling me that we have to wait a year and we're like, yes. Yep. Sometimes you have to wait a year. ultimately I think it was the right move. We built out the right product for B2B. It helped us [00:13:00] strengthen our B2C product as well. And now we're ready with both. So we've got some really interesting customers in the pipeline for B2B, and we think that this is going to be a really interesting tool for them as well
David Tintner: so, how has it been going with, with the B2B launch?
Phil Ranta: Really good. we're in very deep discussions with a lot of real estate companies. The feedback has been wonderful as you know, real estate is a really hot market for VCs and for exits and for all of that, um, there's a lot of real problems happening in that market, especially with kind of modernization of how things are done.
Phil Ranta: We're still kind of in the nineties in terms of real estate technology, right? It's a lot of listing services and you know, it's a lot of feeds and stock photography and the idea of being able to turn any open house very, very easily and do something that's a bit more interactive and has more interesting lead generation and something that's right for the gen Z market.
Phil Ranta: Instead of everything feeding the boomer market it's starting to get a lot of interests. So, you know, it was tough to [00:14:00] have to pivot here, but now that we did, we went, oh, thank God we pivoted here because we might not have addressed this market otherwise. Very
David Tintner: cool. So can you explain the technology that you developed that allowed you to do that pivot?
Phil Ranta: Yeah, luckily we didn't have to get too far into the spatial side of it. So, um, there's already a lot of wonderful companies doing, you know, spacial stuff. There's a lot of wonderful companies doing like premium avatar stuff.
Phil Ranta: We didn't want to compete on that playing field. We just really wanted to nail interactivity. Okay. So how do you place interactive objects in a scene? How do you place avatars in a scene? How do you make it very simple for them to interact? So, yes, you're able to create smart bubbles and they're tethered to location.
Phil Ranta: Um, for the B2B market, we built out the ability for, agents to curate a space much more carefully because naturally with our B2C it's a little bit more wild Westy, right? Like I shoot a video. I go chat with this person over there. I go drop into this. [00:15:00] Like it's a little bit more like Facebook where it's like, you can just kind of like put whatever stuff you want in it and you don't have to like laser point, like, oh, my GPS was off by 10 meters.
Phil Ranta: So I got to move it over that. Right. But in real estate you do, right. If you're putting in a, a interactive object over a refrigerator that explains more information on the refrigerator, it needs to land right on that refrigerator. Okay. So we built out an entire web for. We also built out the ability for our technology to work on the web.
Phil Ranta: So you don't have to download a lot of software in order to make this work. and then we just built it out so that any real estate agent can drop a link anywhere that says, Hey, come join me. In my virtual open house, somebody can drop in. They put in their name and phone number and email for lead generation.
Phil Ranta: They very simply have an avatar. They drop in and there was an avatar the real estate agent then gets an alert that says, Hey, somebody is touring their home. They can drop in as their avatar and say, Hey, welcome to the house. What do you want to see? Right. There's there's a video on the balcony. Make sure to check that out.
Phil Ranta: It's beautiful. Hey, let's go up to the [00:16:00] bedroom and check out the master bedroom, right? Look at how big it is. Check out the closet. Right? So we, we just made it very, very simple. We realized that a lot of agents and home buyers are not gamers and are Luddites. We wanted to make it a very complex idea. very simple
Phil Ranta: So it's as easy as just kind of like, this is how you check that out. Here's a dropdown interface in order to go to the bedroom or the living room or whatever, and then just tap around in order to view interactive
David Tintner: objects. This is very cool. And I love that you have an actual avatar and you're able to kind of experience that, open house, I guess, as if you're there in person without being there in person
Phil Ranta: yeah, we partnered with ready player me for this one, because we didn't want to have to build out a whole avatar system that could have been a company in itself, but ready player me has this great technology where you just take a picture of your face and then it creates an avatar. So it's as simple as taking a selfie and then it drops you in as a pretty good replication of yourself, so we wanted to make it very, very quick because we realized that a lot of buyers don't want to spend 20 minutes [00:17:00] making their avatar in order to drop into the scene. So it's just snap a picture of yourself drop right in and you're immediately chatting.
David Tintner: Right. Smart. Okay. so you said that the, um, B2C application is still on the horizon. what are the plans for that?
Phil Ranta: Yeah. So, a fair amount of that is fluid based on the success of the B2B stuff, right? So we still plan on having a fall launch for B2C, but let's, let's take a best case scenario.
Phil Ranta: Let's say every real estate company in the world does a deal with us. And we onboard a million agents globally to build out tens of millions of properties that that's going to set our B2C back a little bit. Right. Because at that point it's like, okay, this is really working. We have to really build out the feature set.
Phil Ranta: Um, we, I think we would still have people with an eye on it, developers that have an eye on it because we realized that you can parallel path some stuff like this, but we need to stay laser focused as well. with considering [00:18:00] the more realistic idea, which is, it will. Catch steam. That'll become a very nice business.
Phil Ranta: There'll be a fair amount of people jumping out in the real estate product, but it's not going to become overloaded with millions and millions of people accessing it every day. I just think that that's, you know, it's good to dream about, but it's unrealistic. We expect a late fall release of the B2C product, um, which you know, is going to be.
Phil Ranta: Essentially a virtualized social network. So we're naturally having to tweak some stuff from real estate because it's more about friend connections. It's more about privacy. It's more about content creation, but we want to make sure that we're there for the holidays so that brands can jump in. People can jump in for the holiday traffic
David Tintner: so, this has been pretty crazy for you. I mean, you said you joined one month before. COVID and I imagine you were joining wormhole as the company that was the kind of gaming, uh, B2C metaverse company that was dealing with a lot of the stuff that you had [00:19:00] been building up in your career to get to.
David Tintner: And then that's a pretty rapid pivot away from, I guess, kind of your, let's say your previous experience or your areas of expertise. How was that for you?
Phil Ranta: Yeah, I am not a B2B guy. I am not known as a B2B guy. Right? Like I am a, influencer first content creator first like that that's the market. I know really well.
Phil Ranta: I know how to traffic and influence. I know social platforms. That's why they hired me. So I was hired in as the COO and then I, I ended up becoming the CEO, through some transitions at the company, went through but I was essentially brought in because we had a lot of deep tech experience and they needed to go to market guy.
Phil Ranta: And then suddenly I was brought in and said, well, we're not going to market now and we're going to B2B. So I had to learn a lot. I knew nothing about real estate and now I feel like I'm, I could, if you were to give me the real estate agent exam, I feel like I would do pretty well on it today. So I had to essentially do [00:20:00] my, my crash course on how.
Phil Ranta: How houses are sold and how the MLS database works and yada yada yada. Right. So, um, but yeah, I mean, it's, it's like all digital markets and it's the reason why I've always worked in bleeding edge tech. Cause I love to learn. So. I kind of look at everything as a new challenge and a blank slate and saying, let's get rid of all preconceived notions about how these things work and figure out where there's blue waters and where we want to fight to win and where we want to just win, because we're going to be the first one there.
Phil Ranta: Um, and we defined our roadmap and got really smart people in the room and we just started running. Right. And that's all you can really do when you're building a company. Become as smart as you can in the market and then just run as fast as you can and hope that nobody has the same ideas you at the same time as you.
David Tintner: Yeah, absolutely. I can definitely relate. Ben Horowitz has this kind of a metaphor. Maybe you've heard where he [00:21:00] talks about CEO's as being neither peace time or war time. So it sounds, it sounds like a, you know, going with that metaphor that you got dropped into, uh, what pretty quickly turned into like the wartime CEO scenario, you know, crazy decisions, really fast that almost existential crisis for the company quickly.
David Tintner: And, and it sounds like you guys are handling it really, really well.
Phil Ranta: And I love that, that metaphor too, because I feel like. If I take a step back and look at my career holistically, I've always been a wartime guy. Right. And part of that is because when you're working in bleeding edge tech, everything's a race, right?
Phil Ranta: When, for example, at Fullscreen, right? When I joined Fullscreen in 2012, there was really only one multi-channel network and it was already pretty dominant. It was Machinima. However, starting up at that exact same time was this other company called Maker studios. Right. And maker was essentially doing the same thing that we were doing with a little bit of a different angle.
Phil Ranta: We were [00:22:00] coming at it from a technical standpoint, right. Where we believe that the future of influencer management and sales was going to be through tech platforms and maker was more of the we're going to get it done with premium production. And we're going to build out studios and we're going to be more like a movie studio
Phil Ranta: um, Machinima was just focused on gaming. So we were going after everyone else, we were going after vloggers lifestyle, beauty, et cetera. Um, and it immediately became a race, right? We're all pitching the same talent. We were pitching the same thing. It was like, how do we become this much better? And I hired a huge team very, very quickly, and it was run, run, run, run, run, run.
Phil Ranta: At the end of the day, we both had really nice exits. It was around the same time they exited to Disney. We exited do a joint venture between AT&T insurance and called outer media, but then rolled into Warner media. Like we all did great, but it was war time. Right? everyone at maker was aware of what we were doing.
Phil Ranta: We were aware of what everyone at maker was doing. Broadband TV came in as a later day [00:23:00] challenger and we knew what they were doing. And then style hall popped up. We knew what they were doing. And it was just like, I mean, I'm, I'm used to working those long hours, finding those value propositions and leaning into them hard.
Phil Ranta: Like I live my life scrappy. So in a way I'm excited about the, the pending metaverse wars, because we know that in a certain extent for B2C, we're going to be going to head-to-head in a little bit with Facebook, we're going to be going head to head a little bit with a lot of companies. And all we can do is just try to be a little smarter and a little scrappier and find our niche and run as fast as we.
Phil Ranta: And if we become enough of a threat to someone like a Facebook, we've become an acquisition target, which is also an awesome scenario.
David Tintner: I love it. So who is your biggest competition? You mentioned, you know, maybe Facebook is, someone that you're watching out for. What other companies out there are you considering your competition?
Phil Ranta: So right now I would say we, we really don't have a. [00:24:00] Competition in terms of who's doing exactly what we're doing. Right. I think that a lot more will pop up. That's why we've been very bullish about our patent portfolio. And we've been very deliberate in terms of how our rollout strategy has been going.
Phil Ranta: Um, there's a fair amount of people that are doing wonderful stuff in terms of spatial capture like Matterport. There's a lot of people who are doing wonderful stuff on the social side, everything from games like Fortnite and Minecraft to Facebook horizons and VR chat. When you're talking about the VR side
Phil Ranta: and frankly, even when you look at what Snapchat's plans are and what Apple's plans are in terms of glasses, that starts to become interesting too. Like, do we partner, do we compete? We think we probably partner a fair amount on that because we're crabbing a lot of spatial data. We're all built in unity, 3d.
Phil Ranta: We've got location-based services built in. So we think that a wormhole product on top of these hardware devices is going to make a lot of sense in terms of direct competition, kind of nobody and kind of everybody, right. Everybody's sorting in the same direction for this. [00:25:00] I think it's a matter of once we go to market, that stuff will become a bit more different.
David Tintner: It feels to me it a bit today, like the tectonic plates of the metaverse are still kind of shifting and every company wants to be involved, but it's not super clear how, or what is their end game yet,
Phil Ranta: that's absolutely true. And frankly, I think there can be a lot of players in a lot of directions.
Phil Ranta: We're a software company at the end of the day. Um, and we think that being a software company, there's going to be room for a lot of other software companies that come in. What we really want to own on the B2C side is if there's a big event happening in the world, we want to be top of mind in terms of people saying
Phil Ranta: I want to see what's happening at that event. Oh, wormhole. Perfect. I can drop in and based on space and time, I can see the contents being created there and the people that are there. And if we can really nail that everyone else can have their virtual world fun everyone else can have their, like, I want to drop into the Oasis and do scavenger hunts and [00:26:00] real-world like, or in virtual world things.
Phil Ranta: Very cool. There's space for that as well. But if people say, oh, I want to see what's happening to the world cup. I'm going to drop into snap maps. Then we know we failed. Right. We want to be the number one destination for the real time, spatial content
David Tintner: curation. So it's, it's about a lot of people who are not physically located in a certain place, like from, let's say various places that they're actually physically located, wanting to all be together in one place.
Phil Ranta: Yeah. And from the other side of it, it's the people who are at that space, realizing that they can become celebrities just because of their space and time. Right. If I'm at the 50 yard line of the super bowl, I would want to jump onto wormhole and create a whole lot of content. So I'm going to get a ton of followers from people who are going to the Superbowl saying, oh, what content can I consume here?
Phil Ranta: And who's doing it right. So it creates a new kind of [00:27:00] influencer where it's. If, if somebody is experiencing FOMO and they, they have fear of missing out and they want to see a place I'm going to want to follow the people who are out in the world doing the coolest stuff, we're creating content around it.
Phil Ranta: There's really not a lot of platforms that feed into that right now. Right? Like if you look at something like an Instagram, yes, it's heavily FOMO based, but a lot of it is like a asynchronous, like, oh, I'm going on a private jet people go, Ooh, that would be cool to go on a private jet. I'm going to follow this.
Phil Ranta: Person's they've got a cool life but you don't know where that private jet is. You don't know where they're going. You can't follow them along on their journey at the same way. Whereas it, within wormhole, when people want to become public, they can show off as much as they want. They can do red carpet, the academy awards.
Phil Ranta: They can do the coolest club in Las Vegas. And if people start to get to know them as being in the coolest spaces and times, then they can become a different kind of influencer. We're really excited about that.
David Tintner: I can definitely see how all of your, previous experience now with, with talent management and [00:28:00] influencers, it seems like you're really bullish on bringing that in.
David Tintner: Do you have any, let's say specific plans to, I don't know assigned talent for warm hole or bring in influencers in certain ways?
Phil Ranta: Yeah, so we already have a lot of conversations going naturally. It's pending the release date of the B2C product. So we can't solidify it too much but where influencers have been most excited is in two ways.
Phil Ranta: Well, let me start with where brands have been most excited. So brands inside of this virtual world realize that there's now a ownership of spaces that happen on a platform level where you can ride along with events, without partnering with an event. And what I mean by that is it might be very hard to sponsor the Superbowl very expensive, but within Wormhole Being able to have a plane flying around the wormhole universe that says, brush your teeth with Colgate becomes much more reasonable, right?
Phil Ranta: You're kind of riding along with that event or the world cup or Coachella or [00:29:00] anything else. So it opens up this whole new avenue of brand space to do really interesting things and virtual things. Right. You really could have a VIP tent at the super bowl right on the field where people can then tap in it and then be in a unity based virtual world.
Phil Ranta: That's at the super bowl that's super relevant without ever talking to the Superbowl. That's really exciting to brands. And for influencers, what they're really excited about is being able to bring attention to things like product drops or when they do live shows or VidCon, right. Being able to, brag about where they are and have people join them along the way.
Phil Ranta: Um, it just creates a whole new avenue for interaction. That's really interesting and pretty lightweight, you know, they can kind of turn on their, their public face on that chat with some of their fans, have their fans join them there and then they can jump out and then the fans can continue experiencing VidCon or product drops without them even there, [00:30:00] because it becomes a self-sustaining community.
Phil Ranta: So it's kind of part Facebook, part discord, part video game and it becomes self sustaining very, very quickly.
David Tintner: I can really see how you mentioned how, um, you know, a conference or VidCon or something could really make use of this. Well, for me, I've been to, I've been to two vid cons and one of the best parts of the conference was they have a great system set up for meeting people.
David Tintner: And now this is in-person meeting, right? And they manage like the scheduling so that you have quick conversations. Everyone knows where to be. But I can't help, but think how much better that could be if you can layer on top of it, you know, that the synchronization that they, they do in-person with all of the digital abilities that you can provide in wormhole the extra information, the enrichment of it, or, or even just the ability to allow people who are there to also meet with people who aren't there.
David Tintner: It sounds really, really promising.
Phil Ranta: I am incredibly inspired by airdrop, [00:31:00] which sounds so boring, but it's also so true, but the idea that you and I, because of our proximity, you can say, oh, just take a picture. Just airdrop me that photo. And because of our proximity and us knowing each other, and we'll say Phil Ranta wants to airdrop David this picture, and then it airdrop in.
Phil Ranta: To me, that's kind of like a fulfillment of the promise. I've, hadn't seen Terminator two when I was like 10 years old. Like that Terminator vision where you can look around, it'll be like, boop there's David's face. And then this is the information on them, right? Like I can imagine going to a conference and instead of holding up my phone and being able to like, see somebody right there and because they're also a Wormholer, it being able to say like, oh, this person is also at the conference click here, and then you can check out their LinkedIn profile
Phil Ranta: and you can see what everybody else is doing and then jump over and be like, Hey, I noticed that wormhole that, you know, you're the CEO of Hasbro. Let me show you some of these amazing toy influencers that I work with, right? Like it makes the world so [00:32:00] much more efficient. And if you're able to nail the, the privacy issues, if you're able to absolutely figure that part out where it's like, I can easily show who I service my information to and who I don't to make it useful for me and safe.
Phil Ranta: Which we're putting a ton of thought into naturally with a platform like this. If you can really nail that, it changes the way we do conventions, right? I am no longer going up to everybody and trying to bravely say hi, nice to meet you. What do you do for a living and save me those bad conversations. And instead, just being able to walk up and say, Hey, I know a little context about you, you know, a little context about me.
Phil Ranta: Let's, let's figure out how we can work together
David Tintner: so I love that you're already thinking about very specific and realistic ways that it can be monetized and that brands can be involved. What should brands be thinking about today as they're considering the metaverse and they're hearing it starting to pop up all around them.[00:33:00]
David Tintner: Is there anything that brands can do today in the metaverse or something that they should be preparing for so that they're not left out?
Phil Ranta: Absolutely. I mean, there's, there's things you could be doing today, today. Like get everybody in a conference room and start figuring it out today, today in order to start playing along and learning what the metaverse, the number one thing you can do is go onto a metaverse company.
Phil Ranta: I don't care if it's Fortnite I don't care if it's decentral land. I don't care what you do. Go on and make up. And just chat with that person. Not, not somebody, you know, go into VR chat. Right. And just like talk, try to have a conversation with someone. It is the most eye-opening experience you could have about why this is different than say Facebook it's synchronous.
Phil Ranta: You feel true presence, right? you build a deeper bond a much more quickly. It even feels a little dangerous and unsafe, right? Like the first time you get near the metaverse and start having this random conversation, you're like, whoa, is this okay? This is a little bit too, almost intimate. I'm not [00:34:00] used to this level of intimacy, but also it's part of the future.
Phil Ranta: So you learn about it quickly then once you've actually done that, start thinking about your space and navigation and how brands can play along. I like using decentral land as an example for this, because for example, a tare bought out a lot of land and it's like, uh, an NFT like crypto backed, um, Metaverse it's kind of like second life, but Metta Versie right.
Phil Ranta: Like Atari has already built out land and started to build branded experiences in it. Think about what it would be like for your brand to be funneled through that vision. So like, let's say you have a really cool toothpaste company. What would your toothpaste company look like as a building? What would it look like as a piece of art?
Phil Ranta: What experience would you want people to walk into it? Right. Think about all the experiential stuff you've done with booths that convinced. How would that look inside of a, a decentral land, right. Would you buy out, would you go to like all of the top NFT artists who have [00:35:00] done things around mouths and go spend a couple thousand dollars building that, and then build out a little art gallery of like, of winning smiles and have that be like the Colgate but when you have that be like the Colgate gallery of great teeth with this NFT world, make it like cheeky and funny
Phil Ranta: Or would you get like an influencer with a winning smile or a model with a winning smile to do a pop-up there, right? Like there there's just so many opportunities and ways you can do it. And it really does bridge experiential marketing and digital marketing in an interesting and new way.
Phil Ranta: Um, people who get to know this stuff now we're going to be the winning CMOs of the future. So now is the time to start learning about it
David Tintner: does it also feel like there's going to be, uh, you know, you mentioned that Atari already buying out land, right. Is there going to be like an actual price advantage for people that are buying stuff early or building things early, as opposed to waiting until everything is already, packed with their competing
Phil Ranta: yes. And no. So a [00:36:00] lot of these metaverse right now are not going to be the winning metaverses of the future. So if you go spend a hundred thousand dollars into central land right now, it's decentral land going to be around in five years. I don't know. Right. I hope so. I think decentral land is cool. I thought it was like, but would I stake my life on it?
Phil Ranta: No, your land value might drop to zero, right? It happens all the time in blockchain world. So, yes, you can get a price advantage. Now, if you pick the winning pony, but if you don't pick the winning pony, then you might lose a lot of money. Right. So I think right now, the most important thing you can do is just learn, right?
Phil Ranta: Like go in and really learn about how these spaces operate. And if you do want to make bets make bets on the big ones, right? Like when Facebook launches a bigger metaverse, that's pretty risk mitigated, right?
David Tintner: You mentioned NFTs a few times in the realm of the metaverse.
David Tintner: Why are those two concepts? So tightly tied together
Phil Ranta: so, uh, NFTs are non fungible tokens. So fungibility means that [00:37:00] one thing and another thing that's the same have equal, valuable, right? It'd be equal value. So non fungibility means that I could have two things and because their serial numbers are different or whatever, there are different values and a token in this meaning means anything that's meant to not a blockchain.
Phil Ranta: So non fungible tokens are like pieces of art or songs or any digital files. That is sold on the blockchain so that it has scarcity and value. Um, non fungible tokens became really big this year because top shop, which is NBA's NFT became a nine figure a month business. Very quickly. People sold an artwork for $69.3 million.
Phil Ranta: So it's become like this very buzzy thing. If you think about how the metaverse functions, where it has kind of real world value assigned to digital things. You need to have NFTs as well. Um, because you need to be able to have that scarcity or else. I can just say [00:38:00] have a million versions of the Mona Lisa inside of, uh, one metaverse and then all of them have no value.
Phil Ranta: Instead you want to have one Mona Lisa, right? Likewise, you want to be able to buy a hat for your avatar and you want that to have scarcity. You want to be able to have land that has scarcity. So all of these things are. Because that's the only way to replicate the real world. Um, so the two are concepts are tied in very closely and frankly, for brands that want to start playing the NFT world, which I think is really smart, now's the time to start learning about that too.
Phil Ranta: Right? It's part and parcel of learning about the metaverse. And there's a lot of brands that have done interesting things like taco bell with their NFT tacos. And, um, I think what space jam two did by dropping a bunch of free on FTS and making a fervor around. Really really smart marketing campaigns.
Phil Ranta: You can also do it very cheaply. Now there's a lot, it's a frothy market. There's a lot of platforms fighting for it. So great time to jump into that market as well.
David Tintner: Do you feel like in some cases, NFTs might be used [00:39:00] as a tool, as you mentioned, they're a tool for creating scarcity, um, but in places where we don't necessarily need scary.
David Tintner: For example, in, in the metaverse, if we want to mimic the real world, sure. There is a finite amount of land on, on earth, and you can take that to a finite amount of land in a city, but I feel like one of the, um, most beautiful things or, or potentially, um, incredible things about the metaverse is that there isn't a finite amount of land in the digital space.
Phil Ranta: Yeah, well, I, there's not a finite amount of land, but there's certainly more value to land, right? Like if your neck plot is next door to Jay-Z's Then, yeah, you're going to want that. That's going to be more valuable, right. And I, a hundred percent agree with you. I feel like NFT has become one of those polarizing things where either you think everything should be an NFT or you think nothing should be an NFT
Phil Ranta: right. And I think that it lies somewhere in between.
Phil Ranta: Like if I'm Louis Vuitton and I'm doing like a limited line of [00:40:00] avatar items. Yeah. I want there to be that NFT layer where this is my promise to the market, that there will only be a hundred of these.
Phil Ranta: And therefore that has that value it makes the world more vibrant and interesting. so yeah, I think that there's Metaverses that will fully embrace NFTs there's Metaverses that will not embrace NFT's at all. And then there's some that will have, you know, a 50 50, and I'm fine with all of those.
Phil Ranta: I think that it's, it's, it's like building out any digital economy within games. You've got to find that right balance to make it
David Tintner: joyous. Cool. What's the best example you've seen of someone using, NFTs to. Not just for, let's say to sell them for a lot of money or something, but something that actually provides a lot of value to, the world.
Phil Ranta: Yeah. That's a great question. I mean, utility-based NFTs are a big part of the future of NFTs because a lot of people will never understand this idea of. I'm buying a JPEG that I could just download on my computer. Right. Like, no matter [00:41:00] how many times crypto enthusiasts explain it to common, like regular, everyday folks, there's going to be a subset of people that are like, nah, I don't get it.
Phil Ranta: Right. And to some extent, I kind of have that camp where it's like, yeah, I understand being on a ledger. That's building clout within a particular community. And maybe I don't care about that community. Right. So in terms of people that are building it in real time, I always look to games because games are a natural jump for NFTs because, um, people are already buying a lot of downloadable content on Fortnite.
Phil Ranta: You're already spending $20 for a Batman skin. So why not make it something that's more permanent and has resale value? And, you know, so like when I'm looking at people in that market, like Blanco's block party, they raised $75 million for their NFT back. It's kind of like fall guys. It's like cute little characters.
Phil Ranta: They're almost like Funko pop type characters, but they're NFTs. So you might have one of 2000 of this NFT and you buy it and you can resell it. You can trade [00:42:00] it, you can use it. in the game, it has real utility, right? It's not just like clout building, but it's also, you know, something where it's like, this is my way of helping to fund this game in the future.
Phil Ranta: I think that in gaming, it makes a lot of sense. And I'm also very interested to see the future of the friends, Gary V's NFT, where he's using NFTs as entrees into physical and digital events. I think that's really cool. And I really hope it works out well. so I'm keeping a close eye on it, but yeah, I agree.
Phil Ranta: I want my NFTs to mean something beyond just like here, check it out, David, and you go, yeah, cool. Whatever. He spent about a thousand dollars on a day bag. Cool. Um, like I want it to have real utility and I see that as kind of the big part of the future.
David Tintner: I want to ask you, how do you stay? So up-to-date on every, it seems like every trend, every new company, every new technology, you're deeply involved in it.
David Tintner: How do you do it? And what advice would you have to other people to stay, up to date on these things that matter?
Phil Ranta: [00:43:00] Yeah. So I've got three pieces of advice that I give everybody. If you want to work in bleeding edge tech now, or in the field. One is read everything and take everything seriously. Right?
Phil Ranta: Like I feel like a lot of people will read the verge or read tech crunch and say, that company sounds stupid, but like come into it with good intentions. And try if you read about an interesting technology, download the app, go to the website, read through it. Think about what's good about it and get excited about what's good about it.
Phil Ranta: Right? Like I remember when I first read about Snapchat I thought it was the dumbest thing. I'm like, what things go away after 24 hours, like stupid, then I downloaded, I started using it and I went, oh, wait a second. This is a way for kids to share messages that they don't want their parents to know about. Oh my God.
Phil Ranta: Now I get it. And frankly, that's why Snapchat is still popular today is because it's still the social network, but it feels a little bit more private than other social [00:44:00] networks. Right. It wasn't until I really put it in my hands and started using it that I got it. Got it. Same for Tik Tok like, it was very easy to write off as like, ah, just another vine.
Phil Ranta: And then you started using it and went oh my God, I get it. It's like vine, but even easier to create, even easier to flip through, even easier to see what trending hashtags are even easier to find trending songs. Like it's easier vine and it helps with discovery. Right. So yes, read a lot and take everything.
Phil Ranta: Seriously. Two is become a creator and what I mean by that is, whatever a platform is built for. Try it, try it, try to experience it like a creator as well as a customer. Um, try to get a thousand followers on LinkedIn. Try to build a successful board on Pinterest. You learn so much more doing that than you would from just like experiencing it as a consumer.
Phil Ranta: And then number three is. realize that culture is king queen and jester. You don't have to understand things. [00:45:00] Everything sounds funny and ridiculous at first, but alsoit rules, us with an iron fist and also rules us with a soft touch. Right? So, um, try to ride along with culture, try to laugh at culture, try to have fun.
Phil Ranta: Don't take it too seriously, but also realize the power of culture. And if you're able to do that with like open eyes and an open heart and open mind, you will be so far ahead of the curve like a lot of people laughed off NFTs early this year. And frankly, I, I had to block a couple people out of LinkedIn because I was posting so much about NFTs and people were literally DM-ing me saying you are the worst kind of person it's ruining the environment.
Phil Ranta: It's people are going broke with it. It's all a big scam. And they would go and comment. And it's a lot of people with pretty big following sets, some pretty hateful stuff. And I'm very fast to block because I'm like, I just can't have that. Block block block. Right. But the reason why I'm still bullish about it is because it's like, yes, there's problems with it.[00:46:00]
Phil Ranta: Yes, of course. There's problems with every new technology. When I worked at Facebook, Facebook's a highly problematic company. And if you go into it thinking that it's all roses, then you're missing the bigger picture, which is yes. There's problems here. And we can be the ones to help solve those problems and define the future
Phil Ranta: and if you realize that this is a, not just a one company problem, but global problems and things we'll have to contend with in the future in big ways. And you become part of the solution and not part of the problem, that's when you can really be cutting edge and start leading because you acknowledge the problems you solve the problems.
Phil Ranta: That's what we do as futurists. So yes, don't write anything off ride along with it, realize it's valuable and important and then try to solve those issues.
David Tintner: Just love the advice to look at everything. Really from a positive and optimistic standpoint first, it sounds like, and to give it a chance, we're talking about NFTs now and, and things that are fairly recent, but I mean, I'm sure there's a lot of people who were writing off a [00:47:00] Bitcoin and a lot of technology Facebook before that.
David Tintner: And a lot of technologies that, uh, today, you know, you would be hard pressed to find someone who's writing it off.
Phil Ranta: Especially in tasks like tech, more so than any other industry you'll run into so many people who say, no, that's stupid.
Phil Ranta: That's great. Or I knew that was greater. That was stupid before they even launched. And it's like, if they're thinking that they're going into it the wrong way, right? Like go in thinking everything is great and let them prove you wrong. Right. Cause if you do that, then it's like, if you're rooting for everybody, you're cheering them on.
Phil Ranta: You're helping them as much as possible. Then you'll be. Part of their success instead of a passive viewer of their success.
David Tintner: Yeah, that's said perfectly well, Phil, thank you so much for joining us. This has been an awesome conversation and I feel like we covered a lot of topics here and unpacked a lot of things.
David Tintner: Um, my last question for you is where can our listeners, uh, catchy
Phil Ranta: , you can find me at [00:48:00] Phil rant on all social platforms, my most active on LinkedIn.
Phil Ranta: So you can just search Phil Ranta, RA and TA. Um, and you can check out more about email@example.com.
David Tintner: And we were going to be watching that very closely. I think a lot of the ideas you talked about today are very, very exciting for brands for creators. Uh, and we're really looking forward to see where you take it.
David Tintner: Well, thanks again, Phil.
Phil Ranta: Well, thank you, David. I appreciate it.