• Simon Deen

Three Point Zero

Updated: Nov 26, 2021

You may have noticed that Mark Zuckerberg recently changed the name of the company he co-founded to Meta.

It’s an abbreviated term for the Metaverse, which depicts a future where we have swapped the physical world for the online one.

An online world where a piece of digital artwork recently sold for 69.3 million dollars. Which is 15 million dollars more than Monet’s ‘Nympheas’ achieved at auction.

Everydays: The First 5000 Days - Beeple - The Simon Deen Real Estate Blog
Everydays: The First 5000 Days - Beeple

Its new owner plans to display it in a public space outside a building he owns. Which sounds like something more people can relate to.

Until you discover that he is of course talking about an online public space, outside an online building. Before you laugh, a plot of land has just been sold in Decentraland (an online, virtual only environment) for 2.3 million dollars.

Depending on your viewpoint, this insanity / sensible investment strategy relies on Web 3.0, or the third iteration of the internet.

So we can get to the property stuff sooner rather than later, here’s a whistle stop tour of versions 1.0 and 2.0

Web 1.0 was essentially an online information repository. Static information, accessible to whoever had an internet connection. If you’re old enough to remember, it looked something like this.

“Soon to be much bigger”….they weren’t joking - The Simon Deen Real Estate Blog
“Soon to be much bigger”….they weren’t joking

Web 2.0 is defined by its user generated content.

The big winners from this space have been organisations like Facebook, Spotify, Google and Apple. By and large, they have made money in three ways, hardware, content and data.

Hardware is the device you’re reading this on.

Content is Spotify hosting your Grammy award winning album, paying you pennies on the dollar for downloads, and keeping the rest for themselves.

Actually, it’s worse than that. They pay artists between $0.003 and $0.005 per stream. So much for valuing creativity.

And your data. Companies like Google own it, store it and monetise it.

Quite effectively too. In 2020 they generated approximately $124,000,000,000 from advertising revenue alone.

If you’re struggling to see the end of the room, it’s not your eyesight. This data centre is 115,000 square feet, and it’s one of 21 across the globe.

Google data centre, Iowa - The Simon Deen Real Estate Blog
Google data centre, Iowa

Sergey, Larry and Mark have all made themselves incredibly wealthy from selling your data to advertisers. Because as Eddie Izzard pointed out many years ago, no one actually reads the terms and conditions.

Web 3.0 and the metaverse is going to challenge the current status quo, and soon.

Artists and musicians will own and monetise their own creativity, without the need to pay a large slice to Spotify or Apple.

You’ll own your own data, and can choose to sell it (or not) directly to advertisers.

Everything will be in three dimensions, not two. So it will exist on your virtual reality headset, and not your smartphone.

This incredible rate of change got me thinking about real estate, and more specifically, estate agency. Which hasn’t always been the fastest adopter, but it is changing.

I’m going to define agency 1.0 as the pre-Foxtons, pre internet era.

Before my time, but as some people like to refer to it, “good old fashioned agency”.

Listening, building relationships, gaining trust, dispensing the kind of advice you’d like someone to give your grandmother. Black books and rolodexes, BMW’s and carphones.

Agency 2.0 emerged from the dot com bubble, and initially involved Rightmove.

However they were soon joined by a host of other companies providing pretty much the same service. Not out of benevolence, but because it was hugely profitable.

By creating an easily accessible place to see everything currently available to buy or rent, at any time of the day or night, they disrupted the way in which we searched for property.