‘My title was non-negotiable’: A Q&A with Cathy Hackl, chief metaverse officer at Journey

Over the previous 12 months, a brand new kind of CMO has begun to take maintain within the C-suites of media and tech firms: the chief metaverse officer. Telefónica, the Spanish telecommunications company, hired a chief metaverse officer in March; Disney tapped a former theme park govt to move up its metaverse division in February; and in June, Publicis introduced on a chief metaverse officer of its personal — although the manager was a virtual avatar, not an actual particular person.

Regardless of this inflow of C-Metaverse-Os, these are nonetheless the early days of the metaverse. Few people perceive what the metaverse actually is, and even fewer are really geared up to deal with an govt position devoted to this new sector. It’s quickly changing into crucial for firms to convey their metaverse data in-house — but it surely’s but to be decided whether or not chief metaverse officers will develop into widespread or go the way in which of different since-forgotten buzzword-based C-level positions of years previous, such because the chief social media officer or chief brand safety officer.

To discover the background, tasks and potential way forward for this new number of CMO, Digiday spoke with one of many few professionals who’s unequivocally certified for such a job: Cathy Hackl, the co-founder and chief metaverse officer on the innovation and design consultancy Journey.

Hackl entered the metaverse enterprise lengthy earlier than the time period entered the zeitgeist final 12 months. Previous to her time at Journey, she had stints as a VR/AR professional and futurist for firms comparable to HTC, Oculus, Magic Leap and Amazon. However her most convincing qualification for the position is perhaps her bona fide connection to metaverse customers: she’s the mom of three metaverse-native children, together with a 10-year-old who runs his personal Roblox enterprise.

This interview has been calmly edited and condensed for readability.

How did you develop into the chief metaverse officer at Journey?

I’ve been in metaverse-related industries for over eight years; I labored at HTC Vive as a VR evangelist in the course of the firm’s partnership with Spielberg’s adaptation of Prepared Participant One; I went over to Magic Leap and labored there as an enterprise strategist for 2 years. Clearly, the chief futurist at Magic Leap at the moment was Neal Stephenson, who coined the time period. Then I went over to Amazon Internet Companies, then ultimately left to create Futures Intelligence Group, which is a metaverse and Web3 advisory for manufacturers and firms attempting to enter the house, which was acquired by Journey on the finish of final 12 months.

After I created Futures Intelligence Group, I made a decision, “I’m the CEO, the founder, however what am I actually doing right here?” So I selected the title chief metaverse officer. One of many causes I take advantage of that title is to start out a dialog round who’s going to deal with the metaverse — what does it imply? I feel the folks which are going to handle metaverse initiatives have to have quite a lot of expertise, however what I’ve seen is loads of debate round it. However I do imagine somebody within the C-suite goes to must handle this, and I personally imagine that it’s not solely a advertising factor. This goes past that. After I received acquired by Journey, I stated that my title was non-negotiable — you’re shopping for a metaverse firm right here.

So that you anticipate that extra firms will probably be creating this place, or one much like it, within the close to future?

Yeah, and I feel you’re already seeing it. Does it must be known as chief metaverse officer? I don’t know — each firm goes to seek out what feels extra snug to them. That being stated, a pair many years in the past, in case you requested somebody a couple of chief digital officer or chief content material officer, they’d have been like, “we don’t want that, that’s ridiculous.” So I feel issues evolve, however somebody throughout the org must handle a few of the issues that include the metaverse.

What are an important {qualifications} for a chief metaverse officer?

I’m very strategy-driven, very business-focused. That stated, I’ve huge expertise in a number of of the applied sciences: digital actuality, spatial computing, augmented actuality, cloud computing. So I really feel that the folks which are going to fill these roles are going to have, on some degree, a technical understanding of the enabling applied sciences. Some are going to be stronger possibly on the AR and VR aspect, some are going to be stronger on the Web3 aspect, some is perhaps stronger in gaming, however there does have to be some understanding of the present instruments.

Which sectors do you anticipate will rent extra chief metaverse officers in these early days?

Vogue is the place I’m seeing loads of this begin to occur. They’re going to come back from gaming, they’re going to come back from AR and VR, they’re going to come back from Web3. What differentiates somebody that may lead this operate is being that connector, that translator of kinds between the technical and the enterprise aspect.

Will we begin to see Gen Z and Gen Alpha metaverse natives leapfrog the company ladder to occupy such a position?

Why not? Typically, the neatest particular person within the room is perhaps the youngest particular person. I’m not going to say {that a} 15-year-old goes to develop into a chief metaverse officer, however I feel that there are going to make sure issues that the Gen Zs which are coming into the workforce are going to grasp on a really completely different degree. My son’s first live performance was Lil Nas X in Roblox — it wasn’t at a stadium, such as you and me. He speaks about that within the first particular person: “I noticed Nas, I used to be there.” To them, it’s not in regards to the bodily world and the digital world. All the things is actual, it’s simply completely different. Gen-Alpha’s actuality may be very blurry.

I’ve received a Gen Z/Gen Alpha, after which I’ve received two Gen Alphas, and it undoubtedly adjustments my perspective. I see how they interact with these applied sciences, what they’re experiencing, how they’re creating, how they’re world-building, what gaming means to them from a social and id perspective. So it informs loads of what I do, and loads of what I do is for them as a result of I wish to create a greater future for them.

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