Sam Englebardt has made zombie films, founded gold class cinemas in Australia and worked with crypto pioneers in the early days. Now he’s investing half a billion dollars in creating the Metaverse.
Galaxy Interactive Managing Partner Sam Englebardt first met billionaire and former hedge fund manager Mike Novogratz on a celebrity trip to Haiti in 2016. Englebardt’s fiancée Megan had invited him for a shindig at the last minute Artist for Peace and Justice.
“It was a fun weekend,” explains Englebardt. “It is[[[[crash Director]Paul Haggis’ organization. Susan Sarandon was there and Ben Stiller. It was a great celebration of this really great school that they built. “
“Mike and I got on really well. We found that we have a lot of overlapping interests in technology: Bitcoin and crypto specifically, VR and AR, ”he says. Nine months later, after their friendship developed, Novogratz told Englebardt that he would have to join him in New York to institutionalize his family office.
“He loves Megan, my fiancée. I remember we had breakfast one morning and he said, ‘You know, Sam, if you don’t come to New York and work for me in my family office that I’m just starting out, Megan is going to drop you! ‘“He says laughing.
The original plan for Galaxy Digital is based on more traditional methods of making late-stage venture capital financing, debt, and private equity. However, it was overtaken by events surrounding the incredible Crypto Bull Run in 2016-17.
“The plan went out of the window when we realized that we were in a better position than anyone to really build Galaxy Digital and pursue this mission of institutionalizing crypto and blockchain,” says Englebardt, official co-founder. “And the rest is this wild journey we’re on.”
Galaxy Interactive invests in cutting edge technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality (including Polyarc), artificial intelligence (Hour One) and blockchain-based games (Playable Worlds). To date, they have invested around $ 200 million in interactive content studios and social platforms, as well as the infrastructure and technology that power the space.
Remember Block.one’s first $ 4.1 billion coin offering to EOS in 2018? Some of that money went to a $ 325 million fund originally intended for the general development of EOS but turned into a $ 256 million fund under the aegis of Galaxy Interactive after Englebardt and his partner Richard Kim were more enthusiastic about the room. They are in the process of raising another $ 300 million fund, which in turn will focus on interactive content.
There is huge money associated with Newzoo in the gaming industry forecast The sector will have attracted 3 billion players and reach $ 217.9 billion by 2013. It is three times the size of the film and music industries combined. Englebardt believes that gaming prepared the world for the explosion of non-fungible tokens Owning virtual digital objects that we saw this year.
“Over the past 20 years, people have felt incredibly comfortable with the idea that digital objects have value,” he says. “That a sword can be worth something for real money in a game and that people want to buy, sell and trade it.”
“By the way, it was a lot of the same people who built the systems that let you create, trade, and monetize digital objects and games. Then they developed many of the same technologies that drove the entire blockchain and crypto explosion. “
Philosophically about it
Born in Ohio in 1977 – “which makes me a dinosaur I think of in Cryptoland” – he studied law at Harvard and philosophy, political science and economics at the University of Colorado and Oxford. He was so fascinated by Plato, Descartes and David Chalmers and the philosophy of mind that he planned to become a professor of philosophy for a while. This could explain why he’s more interested in the virtual worlds that games are built into than the games themselves.
“I think all of this prepares you to accept the possibility that we are now living in a simulation and to understand for sure why people can and do so much time building their alter egos in these digital worlds, and even the possibility that the alter ego they are building they are just like the physical bodies in which they live. “
“What I love about philosophy is that you just study the thought process and practice being open minded, exploring ideas, and loving exploring ideas. Not only is it fun and intellectually stimulating, but it’s also a great way to be a venture investor, ”he says.
He also took a course on the history of cinema, which sparked a lifelong “obsessive passion for film and filmmaking” and led him to start a film finance business. “When I was studying law, I started a company that finances, produces, and finances independent films,” he says. “That was the beginning of my business life.”
The film years
In the course of his Career, Englebardt produced or executive produced zombie films for George A. Romero (Diary of the Dead, Survival of the dead), the Sin City Continuation (A lady to kill) along with the newer AMC show The night manager.
He also created the concept of Gold class cinemas in Australia – premium cinema experiences with large loungers and overpriced food and drinks – and partnership with the Lambert Media Group Michael Lambert to assemble the fourth largest cinema chain in the United States Rave cinemaswhich they sold to Cinemark in 2013.
“From 2003 to 2013 I was involved in running or investing in all kinds of old media businesses that were in secular decline,” says Englebardt dryly. The winds of change began to blow.
“It was impossible not to see what was happening to digital media and digital content. While looking at this, I stumbled upon some of the same people who are some of the real pioneers of crypto today, building gaming businesses. “
Although he made his first investment in a game studio called Seismic in 2010, it wasn’t until 2013 when Occulus was bought by Facebook that he began to realize that the future belongs to interactive content. That year he made his first VR investment in EyeFluence eye tracking technology, which was later sold to Google.
“At the time, gambling was considered non-investable for venture capital. It was seen as a different form of content, not really a technology, ”he says. “I just saw it and was like, ‘Oh my god, I mean, it’s so obvious. This is where people go. “
“The writing was on the wall in terms of the passionate interest in these recent demos, the opportunity for people to have so much more freedom of choice in the content they consume and really get involved in and engaging with their content orientate. ”
Bitten by Brock’s crypto bug
As with so many others, it was Brock Capital, Tether and Block.one founder Brock Pierce who introduced Englebardt to the world of crypto.
“Brock was the first to say the word bitcoin to me for sure,” he says. “He was really the one who took the time to let me know why it matters, why it matters. More than anyone I know, he was one of the most important decentralized technology evangelists in the world. “
Pierce and Englebardt were living in Venice at the time and were hosting regular crypto dinner parties with WAX co-founder William Quigley, Scott Walker of Casper Labs, and Johnny Steindoor, managing partner of Distributed Global.
“There was a whole bunch of LA folks who, in one way or another, were pioneers in their sphere of influence in the crypto world. And we would meet once a week or every couple of weeks and have a dinner party where we would talk about what was going on. “
While the world is currently in a full blown NFT mania and most trace their ancestry back to CryptoPunks and CryptoKitties in 2017, Englebardt has been an inevitable development for a long time, according to Englebardt.
“There were a million reasons to look at CryptoKitties and say, ‘Oh, yeah, this whole thing is crazy and won’t work. ‘But if you understood the enormous world of objects in the game, it was even three or four years ago, such an enormous part of the whole game business, especially if you understood the blockchain technology, I thought it was impossible, not realizing that this was an opportunity for a whole new industry. “
“We saw millions of people consuming and spending tens of billions of dollars on digital objects,” he says. “People bring the objects in play, but also just the behavior and gamification, into all of these other areas of their lives.”
“The deeper I got into games, the more certain I was that this behavior would play out in other aspects of our lives and in objects outside of games.”
Snow Crash and the Metaverse
With a 10 year horizon for his VC investments, Englebardt is used to living in his head in the future and he sees the metaverse fast approaching. Popularized by Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel Snow fallThe concept refers to a virtual world that connects all other virtual worlds and in which the players live most of the time.
In essence, it’s an immersive version of the internet, and Englebardt believes digital ownership via NFTs will be the fundamental pillar. That’s because people are more likely to invest time and effort creating something when they know they will own it forever and that it will not be subject to the whims of a virtual world owner, as is the case with Fortnite or World of Warcraft the case is.
“We’re a species that wants to do things and the more incentives we have to do things and monetize them (the better),” he says. “[Building the metaverse] requires people to be incentivized. The content itself cannot be created from top to bottom. It needs to use the incentive systems and tools that are currently being created to encourage people to create and contribute. “
“Once you give people the ability to create and monetize the things they make, everything really changes in the way they talk about it. how they deal with it; how they market a particular place for you. “
Users create more value
He cited the observation by Andreessen Horowitz, General Partner Chris Dixon, that a primary reason Bitcoin and Ether have gained so much value is because they have tens of millions of super passionate users building on or around them and having the say spread.
“It wasn’t $ 1 spent on marketing, and that’s because you take users and turn them into creators. And that’s what happens in the gaming economy, and why is it so exciting?”
In one piece Turning to NFTs in February, Dixon broadened the topic, saying that NFTs have the ability to free users from centralized platforms that consume their content and retain revenue, to instead “build on the Internet’s original ideals: users and creators, that are globally connected and unrestricted through intermediaries who exchange ideas and economic benefits. “
The first manifestations of the metaverse can be seen in blockchain-based virtual worlds like The Sandbox and Decentraland, where users can already buy and own property Create and trade content and digital objects together.
But before we get to one Ready player one-Style future, a lot of things have to happen.
“No one or no company is going to create the entire metaverse. I mean his tools are being built, but it will take so many different parts to make that happen Snow fall flat place, ”he says. “You need GPU power to actually support all of this. A million things have to happen. So we have a lot to do.”
“But we are clearly beyond the point where people spend an enormous amount of time in digital worlds, making a living in them, creating jobs in them and so on.” This is happening now. “
“The persistence of digital objects in digital and physical worlds, the ability to share in a decentralized and peer-to-peer way the things we own, to buy a digital object from an environment and to bring it into a physical environment and give it to someone, all that stuff is being built right now. It’s not that far away. “