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This article was published on May 24, 2023

Improbable launches new metaverse think tank amid strategic pivot

The virtual worlds are changing

Improbable launches new metaverse think tank amid strategic pivot

British unicorn Improbable has sharpened its metaverse focus with the launch of a new think tank.

Dubbed the Metaverse Society, the think tank will explore the social and economic impacts of the nascent tech. Improbable told TNW that it wants to develop use cases, clarify misconceptions, and reduce risks associated with the metaverse.

“We want to contribute to ensuring the metaverse holds its promise of being a network of meaning that unlocks creativity, social interaction, and economic opportunities, free from gatekeepers,” said Herman Narula, Improbable’s founder and CEO.

“The convergence of AI, metaverse, and blockchain technologies offers a unique moment to shape a space where communities, content developers and brands can re-imagine engagement, loyalty, and culture. We need to bring together key players and address the misconceptions around the metaverse.”

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Improbable plans to present a detailed program of Metaverse Society activities at the end of June.

To kick things off, the company is bringing its own research portfolio to the think tank. This includes studies of potential metaverse sectors, a report on European regulation — and a new research memo that offers clues on Improbable’s evolving strategy. 

“Without blockchain-based solutions, the metaverse is not possible.

The new memo emphasises the value of blockchain in making the metaverse decentralized, interoperable, and monetisable.

“The metaverse will rely heavily on blockchain technology, particularly in terms of economic activity… Without blockchain-based solutions, the metaverse is not possible,” write the authors.

On the blockchain

The think tank and memo were unveiled amid a big strategic pivot for Improbable. The company has developed virtual worlds for over a decade, but recently shifted to focus exclusively on the commercial metaverse.

As part of the shift, the Softbank-backed firm has abandoned plans to build its own video games. In December, the company also shuttered its US defence arm, which provided war-gaming simulations for military forces.

The subsidiary’s former president, Caitlin Dohrman, said Improbable had decided to “refocus on its commercial metaverse business” amid a need “to accelerate its path to profitability.”

Instead of in-house games and defence, Improbable is now concentrating on metaverse infrastructure. A key component of this effort involves blockchain tech.

In September, the Financial Times reported that Improbable was closing in on a new €100m funding round, which would value the company at more than €3bn. The round was led by Elrond, a blockchain company.

Improbable is also developing M2, a blockchain-enabled network of interoperable metaverses, and is collaborating with the company behind the Bored Ape NFTs on a virtual world project.

The pivot to a blockchain-powered metaverse aims to end Improbable’s operating losses. Narula says he expects the company to be profitable in 2023.

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