Skibbereen is basking in a golden Tokyo moment today thanks to our love of games. However, this Olympic connectivity over a 10,000 kilometre distance suddenly felt very small when reflecting on other other headlines over the past week. First consider the “Metaverse”. This is the next phase in the evolution of the internet, often referred to as Web 3.0, which provides users with a bridge between the physical and digital worlds. Online gaming has been the standout sector in exploring the commercial possibilities in the metaverse with blockchain technology and token(NFT) incentives. Only a few days ago we wrote about Axie Infinity and its 200x revenue growth achieved in just three months. Talk about hyper growth on steroids, but here’s the update.

Axie’s June revenues were $12 million and the first 18 days of July delivered $79 million. Since Monday the Pokemon-like game has been generating $9 million, each day. That’s a staggering $100 million of activity on this blockchain powered platform in just a couple of weeks. No wonder Mark Zuckerberg has just described the metaverse as “the next generation of the internet and next chapter for us as a company”. In fact, it’s more than a chapter. Zuckerberg used the Facebook earnings report this week to announce his ambitions to turn Facebook into “a metaverse company”.

Of course, there will be debate about what that “beyond” world will look like and how we will virtually experience it. However, there appears to be growing certainty about how the bridge between the physical and virtual worlds will be built. The debate about cryptocurrency valuations is a distraction which generates the headlines but the investment world is beginning to wake up to a digital world which will employ blockchain-type technologies to support a creator economy trading in digital tokens(NFTs, crypto etc). Follow today’s money. Technology investors are making moves and here’s a few funding events from recent days as an illustration of the appetite for exploration of the metaverse:

Crypto infrastructure firm Fireblocks raises $310 million with a $2 billion valuation. The start-up provides custody and other digital assets-related services.

Ethereum-based project EthSign raises $650,000 seed funding to put signed documents on the blockchain.

Blockchain infrastructure provider Biconomy raises $9 million in a funding round. The company provides blockchain support infrastructure for developers.

Bitcoin rewards provider Lolli raises $10 million in a Series A funding. Lolli gives free bitcoin to its users as a reward for shopping.

Mega venture fund, a16z, backs the Valora digital wallet with $20 million.

Opensea is one of the top NFT marketplaces and has just achieved unicorn status(> $1 billion valuation) with a $100 million fund raise.

A new Facebook focus, freakish Axie Infinity growth and frenzied funding rounds suggest readers look “beyond” cryptocurrencies and think about the infinite possibilities of building a next generation virtual world. The Metaverse is a digital gold rush. Now it’s time to find the digital shovels.