In June 2003, Linden Lab released Second Life, an online platform where users could create digital representations of themselves, as well as other 3D-based content, to build a virtual world in cooperation with other users. This digital realm quickly became a venue for educational endeavors, religious outreach, scientific research, and corporate virtual presence. Utilizing its own digital currency, known as Linden Dollars, a virtual real estate market soon established itself, with users around the world buying and selling digital land.
Now, businesses across a variety of industries have been purchasing digital real estate on new platforms like the Sandbox and Decentraland. Driven by modern virtual reality technology, these platforms provide a more updated experience for their users, and businesses are looking to extend their real-world presence into these digital realms in hopes of innovating new ways of doing business.
Recently, a number of accounting firms have made the leap into the metaverse in an effort to keep up with the latest in digital interaction. For instance, Prager Metis International, which has 23 physical offices in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, purchased $35,000 worth of digital real estate on the Decentraland platform in partnership with Banquet, a firm that helps fund and manage blockchain startups. Big Four firm PricewaterhouseCoopers also ventured into the metaverse via a virtual real estate purchase in the Sandbox for an undisclosed amount.
Both companies are planning on leveraging their pioneering experience on the new platform to advise clients on potential opportunities for and challenges to doing business in the metaverse. Their expectation is that their clients will seek to expand their business operations into the new digital worlds as their appeal and user base continues to grow.
“The Metaverse offers new possibilities for organizations to create value through innovative business models, as well as introducing new ways to engage with their customers and communities,” William Gee, a partner at PwC Hong Kong, said in a statement.
While the concept of doing business in a virtual world is certainly not new, this latest iteration offers a plethora of opportunities for both established companies and startups to innovate and engage with a substantially wider audience than their traditional brick-and-mortar offices.