Genies worked with soccer star, Mesut Ozil, on creating this 3D avatar of him.Genies
The revenue from virtual worlds could approach $400 Billion by 2025 and many in the gaming, fashion, art, music, and tech industries are looking for ways to seize this new revenue opportunity. Over the last year, several companies have made a splash in the space, and one of them is called Genies.
Genies is not only one of the world’s most innovative avatar technology companies, it is also creating digital identities that can be used across many platforms. Through Genies. celebrities and athletes can use digital identities to memorialize one of their life's defining moments and sell them as digital or virtual goods to their fans who want to share in their biggest life moments.
Akash Nigam is the CEO of Genies and is helping the company pave the way for the metaverse, as Genies becomes one of the leading 3D avatar and digital identity startups in the ecosystem. Nigam has a unique perspective on the current virtual goods market and the promising future for Genies users.
Here’s an exclusive interview with Nigam about the company’s present, future and their partnership with soccer player, Mesut Özil, in which they sold 6 rare limited digital goods, like virtual jerseys and cleats in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), for $500,000 via Nifty Gateway.
One of the digital items that was sold via NFTs for the Genies x Mesut Ozil announcement.Genies
Cathy Hackl: What’s Genies up to right now?
Akash Nigam, CEO, Genies: I think what's happening right now is that we're starting to bring our 2D avatar style into 3D and introduce the new 3D avatars into the ecosystem. You've probably seen the announcement of Justine Bieber, Rihanna, J Balvin earlier this year. Mesut Ozil, last week, and we’re kind of doing this on the cadence of weekly. Also, we’re introducing Genies for consumers for the very first time.
Last November, we announced our SDK, which integrates our avatar creator into third-party platforms to enable users to create their avatar in the platforms they already exist on, making us a virtual portable identity and culture favorite avatar across the internet. We're currently securing many impactful, influential SDK properties that uniquely evangelize our avatar and will soon be rolling them out. Shortly, you’ll see GIPHY rolling out. Having these two entities create our Genies' first celebrity/ talent and our Genies for consumers adds greatly to the digital goods economy and showcases our ability to bring what has been working in gaming for decades into the culture for the first time.
We experimented with the presale of one of the top 10 international soccer players, Mesut Ozil, who announced his transfer from Arsenal to Turkey and memorializing the event with a genie activation that in a way announces Genie on Instagram and other social media platforms. The player also revealed that his fans can now buy a limited edition of his exclusive digital goods to memorialize and own a piece of the cultural moment with him for that time of his life.
Hackl: Does the term direct-to-avatar resonate with you?
Nigam: The term resonates 100%; we have an online identity, not a new concept – like my Instagram profile, Facebook and Twitter path, and a host of other different profiles.
The Gen Z and Millennials are moving and seeking the next medium of expression, and the more they want this, the more they are consumed by the internet and metaverse, which in my opinion, is not an environment but a mindset; it reveals how much your mind is consumed by your online reputation. They always want to accessorize that online reputation, and an avatar feels like a vehicle that helps them achieve that. So, direct to avatar is the name of the game.
Hackl: For you, the metaverse is a mindset, how so?
Nigam: Yeah, it’s interesting to know that the word metaverse has been popularized during the pandemic. I believe you also know movies like Ready Player One have also popularized the concept of the metaverse. If you talk to anybody in Gen Z, they think we live in a video game, like if something goes wrong, they're like, “oh, it’s a glitch in the simulation.” To be honest, I’m a big believer that we speak as a society; we speak things into existence.
It starts as an idea in your head and later turns into literature that people write books on. People read the books, create movies on them, while others watch in excitement. This continuous cycle shows that people speak the metaverse into existence and buy into the fantasy in the concept. The mindset here is caring about your online reputation (what happens online) more than your physical reputation. It’s like knowing how you are perceived on the internet, and I think the timing is great for Gen Z because of cultural inclusion. Gennies is pegged on cultural relevance, and because Gen Z understands the bad side of the internet, they are looking for some sort of safe haven, and that's the mindset right now.
Hackl: What will Genies look like when we get AR glasses?
Nigam: From our perspective, it’d be nice to have our own avatar in that AR world. I think we have a product-market fit amongst cultural tastemakers’ icons and their respective fans together with the Gen Z demographic. You could do two things to an avatar; one, you can improve it over time, which opens up an entire task, and you know what that means. It's like, 'what asset do I have to adorn myself?'
To us, it's like the solution or answer to that; is what digital cameras do. You now have an avatar system made up of any combination and digital video acquired rights, looking almost like ‘what superpowers do you have?’ Yeah, superpowers for at least a genie change from one SDK platform to another. So, like your personalized messaging tool on GIPHY, on Gucci, your mannequin, on TikTok, it can be your AR dancing companion – it just changes from one platform to another.
As Apple is doing great with the AR glasses, we want to also build, of course, potential use cases, and these platforms have reinvented their use cases and online properties for an AR environment. So, we're keeping that in mind for sure and working on stuff, but I can't disclose what stuff we’re working on exactly.
Virtual hoodie by Genies x Mesut OzilGenies
Hackl: Can you tell me more about why Genies partnered with Mesut Özil?
Nigam: What happened on that day was exciting because it validated many pieces that we have been working on for years. We have been in the avatar game for over three years now, and we've been experimenting and doing a bunch of different things. It was important to learn and philosophically understand the power and what an avatar can bring to the table when we finally deliver what we’ve been working on.
Gen Z has now adopted 3D avatars and starts to evangelize and care about them as their second virtual being. You're used to the word avatars just meaning a ‘sticker pack,’ but it’s evolved so much over time, and this is the first time that people will experience an avatar that feels like a dynamic second version of themselves with a lot of capabilities.
What we want to see in the next 18 months is a flourishing digital culture goods economy where people are rushing to drops the same way they rush to a Supreme, Nike, or Gucci drop.
Is The Metaverse A Destination Or A Mindset?
Virtual hat designed by Genies x Mesut OzilGenies
The success of Genies paves the way for how many envision the metaverse and the company has a very interesting roadmap ahead. Whether the metaverse is a destination or a mindset, the reality is that companies of many different sizes are looking at how they enter the virtual goods space with impact and how they can be part of the next iteration of the internet. All eyes are on how we will engage with content, brands, and each other in the metaverse.