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This Week in the Metaverse: Degree hosts ‘Metathon’ and Bored Ape Yacht Club hacked

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By Webb Wright | Junior Reporter

April 28, 2022 | 9 min read

Things are moving fast in the metaverse, and in the wider world of web3 as a whole. Depending on who you ask, this futuristic, blockchain-based space is either the next big thing for marketing – and for almost everything else – or an overhyped fad. Here’s what you need to know from this past week:

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The Bored Ape Yacht Club’s official Instagram account was hacked earlier this week / Adobe Stock

Degree hosts the ‘Metathon’ aimed at promoting inclusivity in the metaverse

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Deodorant company Degree recently hosted the first-ever virtual marathon, hosted on popular metaverse platform Decentraland. Dubbed the ‘Metathon,’ the event was designed to promote inclusivity within the metaverse.

Positioning itself as a brand committed to working toward “a more inclusive world where everyone has the confidence to move more,” Degree conducted a poll of virtual landowners in Decentraland and discovered that 98% of participants “support making movement in Decentraland more accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities.” The brand worked with “disability experts,” Paralympian Blake Leeper and rapper Fat Joe – known for his “advocacy for representation,” according to the brand – to build a virtual race aimed at making people of all levels of physical ability feel welcome.

In collaboration with Decentraland, the brand developed wearables for avatars that reflect the reality for many within the disabled community, including prostheses, a wheelchair and running blades. Those wearables, Degree says, “offer greater representation for people with disabilities and enable participants to create avatars representative of their unique identities.

The brand says that it will not stop with the Metathon; it will continue to promote a more inclusive and diverse metaverse in future efforts, which will include “adding audio description for people with visual impairments, implementing a non-binary experience when creating an avatar, constructing a variety of body shapes and sizes, and more.”

Hackers break into Bored Ape Yacht Club’s Instagram

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The official Instagram account of the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) – one of the world’s most popular non-fungible token (NFT) series – was hacked earlier this week, resulting in the theft of millions of dollars of NFTs. The company tweeted just before 10am ET on Monday: “There is no mint going on today. It looks like BAYC Instagram was hacked. Do not mint anything, click links or link your wallet to anything.”

The hackers, after breaking into the BAYC Instagram account, posted a malicious link advertising a fake airdrop (crypto-speak for a NFT distribution). According to CoinDesk, those unlucky souls who clicked on the link gave the hackers control over their wallets. “Rough estimated losses due to the scam are 4 Bored Apes, 6 Mutant Apes, and 3 BAKC, as well as assorted other NFTs estimated at a total value of ~$3m,” a spokesperson for BAYC told CoinDesk. “We are actively working to establish contact with affected users.”

The hack underscores the fact that cryptocurrency, even when it is protected on a secure blockchain, can be made vulnerable via other technological loopholes – in this case, a crypto company’s social media account. Last month, hackers breached Axie Infinity and made off with more than $600m worth of crypto. At the time of writing, the hackers in the recent BAYC scam are still at large.

Disney eyes the metaverse for ‘next-generation storytelling’

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The Walt Disney Company has begun developing a strategy for its entrance into the metaverse, according to The Los Angeles Times. The company is reportedly calling its plans for the metaverse “next-generation storytelling” and will seek to blend elements of its existing business model – including both physical infrastructure such as theme parks and its streaming platform Disney+ – with new virtual experiences.

“[I]t’s going to take all the great things that we as a media company have with Disney+ and use that as a platform for the metaverse,” Disney chief executive Bob Chapek told The LA Times. “But at the same time, we have something that no one else has, and that’s the physical world, a world of our parks. And so, if the metaverse is the blending of the physical and the digital in one environment, who can do it better than Disney?”

While the specifics for Disney’s plans are not yet clear, this marks the latest news from a major media company looking to stake its claim in the burgeoning metaverse and its associated block chain-based technologies. Major film studios including Lionsgate and Warner Bros, for example, recently minted their own NFTs. Disney also launched its ‘Golden moments’ NFT series last year.

Zuckerberg changes his tune about his company’s metaverse spending

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Since changing the name of his company from Facebook to Meta last year, Mark Zuckerberg has been adamant about the need to invest huge sums of money into the company’s development of the metaverse – which Zuck appears to believe with full conviction will be the future of the internet. But after a period of huge financial losses earlier this year, and faced with some anxious investors, he’s now becoming more thrifty.

In a Q1 earnings call on Wednesday, Meta’s chief executive officer told investors that given the company’s “current business growth levels,” the company will “slow the pace of some of [its] investments.” He also emphasized his confidence that Meta’s long-term commitment to building the metaverse, which has proven to be staggeringly expensive in the short-term, would ultimately pay off.

“In Reality Labs [Meta’s tech R&D arm], we’re making large investments to deliver the next platform that I believe will be incredibly important both for our mission and business – comparable in value to the leading mobile platforms today,” Zuckerberg told investors on the call. “I recognize that it’s expensive to build this – it’s something that’s never been built before and it’s a new paradigm for computing and social connection.” In addition to the metaverse, Zuckerberg said the company would be focusing more heavily on Reels – including “short-form video [and] the advancement of AI recommendations driving more of our feeds” – and ads. Later in the call, Meta’s chief financial officer Dave Wehner announced that Reality Labs’ operating loss for Q1 of 2022 was $3bn.

Supermodel Gisele Bündchen and FTX want to tell the world why they’re ‘in on’ crypto

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Crypto trading platform FTX has launched its first-ever print campaign, called ‘In on,’ in partnership with supermodel and philanthropist Gisele Bündchen.

The campaign kicked off yesterday at the SALT Crypto Bahamas conference with a conversation between Bündchen and FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried focused on “the company’s deep-rooted commitment to effective altruism and providing the biggest global impact for good,” according to a statement from FTX. The conversation will also emphasize the reasons why both Bündchen and Bankman-Fried are “in on crypto with FTX,” per the brand.

The ‘In on’ theme is a slight modification of the ‘You in?’ theme that the company played upon in its recent Super Bowl ad, which starred Bündchen and her husband Tom Brady – both of whom entered into a ‘long-term partnership’ with FTX last year.

Founded in 2019, FTX has grown to become one of the leading companies in the crypto exchange industry – which, as a whole, has been beset by controversy as a result of cryptocurrency’s considerable environmental impact. With this latest campaign, FTX appears to be aiming to position itself as something of an eco-conscious pioneer for the industry, setting its sights squarely not only on reducing its carbon footprint but also giving back in a number of other ways.

FTX says that it has partnered with Bündchen to donate up to $1bn in 2022 “to charitable causes” through the FTX Foundation, the company’s philanthropic fund. FTX Community – defined as “a project of the FTX Foundation” – will continue in its efforts “to reduce global poverty, save lives and prevent animal suffering,” the company said in a statement. Last year, the company became completely carbon-neutral.

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