- Yat Siu is the chairman of Animoca Brands, a prolific investor in metaverse gaming projects like The Sandbox.
- He told Insider that Meta will struggle to attract users with its current “closed-off” approach.
- Siu also listed 10 altcoins that give retail investors exposure to the metaverse.
Yat Siu likens the metaverse — a virtual space where people interact using avatars — to a nation-state.
“We define the metaverse as a virtual nation underpinned by true, digital property rights,” the chairman of Animoca Brands told Insider in a recent interview. “You can’t have a real metaverse unless you own a piece of it.”
“That’s why blockchain is so important. That’s the only way you can own your digital assets independently because the community has a say, rather than the platform,” Siu added.
Since late 2017, Animoca Brands has invested in blockchain-based metaverse-gaming projects. In a year when crypto, nonfungible tokens, and blockchain gaming have all exploded, Animoca saw its overall income grow to just over $500 million, and a recent fundraising round valued it at $2.2 billion, according to the company.
The Sandbox is one of Animoca’s most prominent investments. Virtual land sales on the blockchain-based decentralized metaverse project have exploded in recent months, with total sales between 2019 and today amounting to $211 million.
“When it comes to the metaverse, you’re looking for economic activity,” Siu told Insider. “Participation drives growth.”
Insider spoke to Siu about why he prefers linked gaming projects like The Sandbox to Meta Platforms‘ metaverse vision. He also listed 10 altcoins to buy to gain exposure to the metaverse theme as a retail investor.
Facebook’s closed metaverse
In October, Facebook rebranded as Meta Platforms to highlight Mark Zuckerberg’s desire to build a “metaverse company.” The Big Tech giant is hiring 10,000 employees across Europe to help build its virtual open world.
But for Siu, that pivot doesn’t suddenly make Zuckerberg an expert on the entire concept.
“Just rebranding yourself to Meta doesn’t mean you run the whole metaverse,” he told Insider.
Siu argued that Facebook’s vision for a “closed” metaverse, where the company owns much of the virtual world, will struggle to attract users.
“We don’t believe in closed metaverses. We don’t think that’s the endgame,” Siu said. “Facebook are building a closed meta, but that can’t work.
“Ultimately, a metaverse that doesn’t allow users to have true ownership won’t work in the long run,” he added. “Everything ends up being permission-based; you’re renting the space, and that just doesn’t scale.”
Altcoins to buy
Siu shared 10 altcoins that can give retail investors exposure to open metaverses. An altcoin is any cryptocurrency that isn’t bitcoin.
Siu told Insider that there are two ways to buy into a metaverse. On the micro level, investors can buy in-game currencies such as The Sandbox’s SAND, which has soared over 14,000% this year.
“We’re bullish on SAND because it’s amongst the top-traded cryptos in the world,” Siu said. “Its community is incredibly strong, and it’s growing really fast.”
Retail investors can also buy native tokens for the blockchain that these gaming projects are built on. Siu said investing in projects such as polygon and flow could provide macro exposure.
Insider breaks down Siu’s list of top 10 metaverse-linked tokens, their current price, and 2021 returns.
Returns YTD: 14,500%
Returns YTD: 12,000%
Returns YTD: 12,000%
Returns YTD: 4,500%
Returns YTD: 1,000%
Returns YTD: 750%
Returns YTD: 200%
Returns YTD: 7%
Returns YTD: -7%
Returns YTD: -35%