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Recently, Figma, a collaborative net software for interface design, was bought by Adobe for $20 billion. It’s price occupied with why Figma has been so profitable and why Adobe was keen to pay a lot for it.
Since the start, Figma has been about collaboration. Yes, it was an awesome design device. Yes, it ran fully within the browser; no downloads or set up required. But greater than the rest, Figma was a device for collaboration. That was a purpose from the start. Collaboration wasn’t an afterthought; it was baked in.
My thesis concerning the metaverse is that it’s, above all, about enabling collaboration. VR goggles and AR glasses? Fine, however the metaverse will fail if it solely works for many who wish to put on a headset. Crypto? I strongly object to the concept that all the pieces must be owned — and that each transaction must pay a tax to nameless middlemen (whether or not they’re referred to as miners or stakers). Finally, I feel that Facebook/Meta, Microsoft and others who say that the metaverse is about “better meetings” are simply plain headed within the mistaken path. I can inform you — anybody on this trade can inform you — that we don’t want higher conferences; we want fewer conferences.
But we nonetheless want folks working collectively, notably as an increasing number of of us are working remotely. So the true query dealing with us is: How can we decrease conferences whereas enabling folks to work collectively? Meetings are, in any case, a device for coordinating folks, for transferring data in teams, for circulating concepts exterior of one-to-one conversations. They’re a device for collaboration.
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That’s exactly what instruments like Figma are for: Enabling designers to work collectively on a mission conveniently, with out conflicting with one another. They’re about demonstrating designs to managers and different stakeholders. They’re about brainstorming new concepts (that’s, with Figjam) together with your workforce members. And they’re about doing all this with out requiring folks to get collectively in a convention room, by Zoom, or in any of the opposite conferencing companies. The downside with these instruments isn’t actually the flat display screen, the “Brady Bunch” design, or the absence of avatars; the issue is that you simply nonetheless need to interrupt folks and get them in the identical (digital) place on the similar time, breaking no matter movement they had been in.
We don’t want higher conferences; we want higher instruments for collaboration in order that we don’t want as many conferences. That’s what the metaverse means for companies. Tools like GitHub and Google’s Colab are actually about collaboration, as are Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365. The metaverse is strongly related to gaming, and if you happen to take a look at video games like Overwatch and Fortnite, you’ll see that they’re actually about collaboration amongst on-line gamers. That’s what makes these video games enjoyable. I’ve nothing towards VR goggles, however what makes the expertise particular is the interplay with different gamers in actual time. You don’t want goggles for that.
Collaboration made Figma price $20 billion. It’s one of many first “enterprise metaverse” functions. It definitely received’t be the final.
Mike Loukides is VP of rising tech content material at O’Reilly Media.
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