Image Credit: Genies
Why Robert Iger is Putting His Money and Time in the Metaverse
Robert Iger is arguably Disney’s (DIS) greatest leader since Walt Disney himself. While Iger is in his 70s after his contract with Disney ran out in 2021, no one expected him to remain idle. It was rumored the former Disney CEO was lobbying President Biden to be named U.S. Ambassador to China. People can now stop speculating because he has set a new direction, and the path makes as much sense as it is surprising. For the next scene of his life, the former “Mouse House” boss is backing a start-up that celebrities and others use to create avatars for the metaverse.
Mr. Iger was chief executive of Disney from 2005 until early 2020 and continued as executive chairman after that until late last year. According to a press release from Genies, a private start-up, Iger invested in and joined Genies’ board of directors. This is one of five small tech companies he has recently backed.
A 29-year-old by the name of Akash Nigam founded Genies in 2017. The company, which has been able to raise $100 million in funding, has developed tools for making virtual characters, clothing, and accessories backed by nonfungible tokens. Genies now has over 100 employees. NFTs are considered an integral part of what many see as the next iteration of the web, an expected technological growth dubbed Web 3.0 or Web3.
Genies now operates an NFT marketplace where users can sell their primary creations or secondary collection for a 5% fee. In 2021 the company signed partnerships with Universal Music Group NV and Warner Music Group Corp. Artists associated with these labels include Rihanna, Justin Bieber, and Cardi B.
“We believe that avatar ecosystems are going to be the mobile apps of web3. An ambitious vision calls for rare mindshare and I can’t think of a better creative and product thinker than Bob to collaborate with in bringing this all to reality,” said Akash Nigam, CEO of Genies.
The 71-year-old Mr. Iger, met with about two dozen start-up executives before making his investments and becoming one of five directors on Genies’ board, according to the Wall Street Journal. “I’ve always been drawn to the intersection between technology and art, and Genies provides unique and compelling opportunities to harness the power of that combination to enable new forms of creativity, expression and communication,” said Bob Iger. “After spending the last few months getting to know Akash and learning more about Genies, I am very excited about his vision and how it will be fulfilled, and I look forward to working with the entire team.”
Iger said he was attracted to Genies because he believes the ability for anyone to easily create and sell virtual goods be key to the metaverse business and alter the entertainment industry. The freedom to use existing intellectual property, for example, customizing a Mickey Mouse avatar, was particularly appealing.
NFTs are a lucrative component of the metaverse. They serve to certify ownership of unique virtual goods through blockchain technology. While still in its infancy, NFT’s popularity has grown over the past year. Collectors are buying characters, clothing for the characters, artwork, and more; often using cryptocurrency. There has been massive growth in the business, $17 billion in 2021 up from less than $100 million in 2020.
The metaverse has gotten a huge vote of confidence from the addition of a former CEO of an entertainment giant. Growth in the business and ancillary businesses is almost beyond comparison.
As with most new technologies, growth related to “web3” is almost assured. But discovering which companies have better products, better plans, comfortable financial positions, and superior marketing is not assured. This is why Channelchek is a sponsor of NobleCon18. This is the 18th year Noble Capital Markets will be inspiring investors of all levels with the latest innovations, actionable ideas, and live presentations from the companies’ CEOs. There is no cost for investors, here
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Managing Editor, Channelchek
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