Rockleigh, NJ 07647
Crestron Electronics, Inc.
July 19, 2022 - Gabe Sierra has been in the construction business all his life — literally. "I'm a general contractor," he says. "My dad's been a general contractor for 30 years. I was in diapers the first time I visited a job site."
But Sierra has developed other interests, too, namely collectibles and cryptocurrency. "I collected Pokemon cards as a kid," he says. He also began trading crypto, and his interest in those investments, coupled with an eye for valuable items, led to an interest in NFTs (a topic Crestron recently covered here). About three years ago, the convergence of his occupational experiences and hobbies led to a nascent thought, as Sierra began to ponder the concept of building something in what's come to be known as the "metaverse."
"At first, I thought about accepting cryptocurrency for my next project," he explains. "But the idea of building something of value in the virtual world started to become really interesting." Sierra had purchased some digital real estate in a platform called "The Sandbox," and shortly thereafter, something clicked: "I had the idea that it would be really cool to build a model, an NFT version of one of my real-world projects in the metaverse. I thought to myself, ‘Well, if I do that, then I have a real-world asset that I can sell.'"
Of course, he'd also have a digital asset — the NFT version of the home — to sell as well. (That asset is being created by Sierra's newly formed company, Meta Residence.) Sierra decided against the idea of selling the physical and virtual versions of the residence separately, though, realizing that the right buyer for the property would absolutely see the value in buying both. (More on who that might be shortly.)
The concept — a physical house, paid for with crypto, with a virtual twin in the metaverse — is getting press, and lots of it (look for a story to hit NBC news in a few weeks). Sierra's partnered with some big names on the project; among them, ONE Sotheby's realty and, of course, Crestron.
The Metaverse Is Not That Complicated
Sierra's well aware that when he begins tossing around terms such as "metaverse" or "non-fungible tokens," most people's eyes glaze over: "I was just having this conversation with one of my friends in the construction industry yesterday, and he was like, ‘Bro, I don't get it.' And I asked him if he played video games — he does.
"So I asked him: Imagine if I told you that you can put your logo, whatever you want of yourself, your logo, your brand name, whatever, in some spot in Call of Duty where millions of people are going to walk by it and see your logo. Do you think there's value in that?"
"People over-complicate what this is," says Sierra. He points out that much like any video game, the human user/player/pedestrian can circulate in a virtual world — but the bulk of those spaces are closed. The player cannot effectively change the environment in which the game is played. In the metaverse, small businesses or individuals can build a space that tens of thousands (or even millions) of people will see, according to Sierra. Platforms like Sandbox aren't infinite, however — there are 166,464 plots available for sale, and Sierra notes those limitations bring more value to the vacant parcels.
Which brings us back to the subject of a buyer: "If I am the CEO of a company, and I buy this house, now I can outfit the metaverse house with my brand. I can throw parties there — name it," says Sierra. Disney, for example, could build a virtual theme park in the metaverse — and perhaps even preview future rides and attractions virtually. "There's limited space in the metaverse, but we're not limited by physics. The possibilities are endless," says Sierra. For the virtual home, Sierra is adding a variety of features that will be revealed at a later date.
The physical version of the home — an 11,000-square-foot Florida mansion — is loaded with Crestron gear. "We'll eventually get to the point where we can execute some pretty slick stuff," says Sierra. Sierra has ideas: Think of a command in the metaverse — shades going up, lights dimming — that's then mimicked in the physical home, or vice-versa. In the meantime, given the project's forward-thinking nature and connection to the latest technology, Sierra wanted a full slate of Crestron devices in the physical project. "This is a ‘techy' undertaking, so I wanted top-of-the-line tech in the mansion," says Sierra.
Sierra is bullish on the virtual aspect. "For a long time, I think the metaverse is going to be a very positive thing." He's aware there will be growing pains. "If people understood it the same way as they understood Xbox or PlayStation, it would be different. But most people approach it from the get-rich-quick type of mentality, which is not healthy for the ecosystem."
"Right now, these things are weighted toward investors," says Sierra. "But as the general population filters in — led by the gamers, who really understand what this is about — the results are going to be spectacular."
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