About five years ago, the word “SpatialOS” was everywhere: It was supposed to be a platform designed to build previously impossible online worlds – yes, MMOs specifically, with “massive distributed systems and engaging large-scale virtual worlds” that do more than “mimic the World of Warcraft model of repeating scripted content.” The company behind the platform is Improbable, and its CEO, Herman Narula, made headlines years ago for arguing that MMOs were going through a “nuclear winter” and needed rescuing.
Narula is the subject of a huge feature piece in the UK’s New Statesman, which is now putting a potential value on the company of $2B – not impossible, given how much investment it’s racked up over the years. The success of the platform itself, on which many MMOs are being built (though few have actually launched), is not as easy to measure. And now, a whole lot of major corporations have come to the same realization Narula did a decade ago: that the metaverse is the future. Of course, he has quite a headstart.
The New Statesman piece lets Narula get in a few zingers and shots against the competition while making his pitch. He downplays the importance of VR, he describes 14,000-person virtual spaces, he talks about real-world applicability for the company’s modeling tech, and he very specifically wants Facebook to fail in its metaverse attempts, saying, “We need to categorically prevent those companies from being the people that own and run anything that even looks like a metaverse.”
“The danger is not the convergence of the digital and the virtual world […] The danger is in the continued refusal to address the elephant in the room: unelected, non-democratic, globe-spanning digital empires, housing our data, making policy choices about how you and I live our lives, and taking an indefensible tax on every transaction… Our problems with Facebook are not problems with technology. They’re just problems with Facebook.”