Former Disney CEO Bob Iger explains why he’s investing in the metaverse, Genies

Former Disney President and CEO Bob Iger is putting his name and his money behind a new company that aims to dominate the future of the internet and the Metaverse.

On Monday, avatar startup 3D Genies announced that Iger is joining its board of directors and investing an undisclosed sum in the Los Angeles-based company. Founded in 2017, Genies’ mobile app allows users to create their own personalized digital avatars – three-dimensional cartoon versions of themselves – for their social media profiles and, optionally, to browse the metaverse.

In a press release, the 5-year-old startup says it will rely on Iger’s help to grow the business as it seeks to create “avatar ecosystems” where users create everything from digital fashion lines for avatars to online worlds in which these avatars can interact.

Genies co-founder and CEO Akash Nigam, 29, touted Iger’s involvement in a statement, saying he “can’t think of a better creative and product thinker than Bob to collaborate with.”

Iger spent 15 years as Disney CEO, beginning in 2005. During that time, he oversaw the company’s heavy investments in technology, paying more than $7 billion to acquire Pixar in 2007 and putting the focus on developing streaming and augmented reality technologies across the company.

“I have always been drawn to the intersection between technology and art, and Genies offers unique and compelling opportunities to harness the power of this combination to enable new forms of creativity, expression and communication” , Iger said in a statement, announcing his role. at Genies.

Iger stepped down as CEO of Disney in 2020, replaced by Bob Chapek. Iger also left Disney’s board at the end of 2021.

Just before stepping down from Disney’s board in December, Iger spoke with CNBC about how new technologies regularly disrupt the way media giants like Disney tell stories — perhaps more so now than when. he took over Disney in 2005.

“In reality, this scenario of a world in which technology enables more storytelling probably exists even more today,” Iger said.

Since stepping down, the former Disney executive has alluded to his interest in the evolution of the internet – sometimes referred to as “Internet 3.0” or “Web 3.0” – and the concept of the metaverse. On Kara Swisher’s “Sway” podcast in January, Iger said the next iteration of the web “is definitely going to be more compelling in terms of experience, definitely more immersive, more dimensional.”

He added that there won’t be just one metaverse, but many digital worlds ready to be explored, and user avatars will play an important role when jumping between metaverses. “I’m talking about democratization. It will be dispersed,” he said. “You can have an avatar, but you’ll go anywhere. And I think it’s likely to be developed into something real as an experience.”

It’s exactly the kind of metaverse experience that a company like Genies is banking on. The startup says its goal is to “create a universal avatar system that can be used in an open metaverse.” Already, several companies are touting their future Metaverse offerings, from Meta (formerly known as Facebook) and Microsoft to Roblox and, yes, Disney.

Genies has raised a total of $100 million in funding from venture capital backers like Bond and Breyer Capital, according to Reuters. The company has also partnered with a long list of celebrities, creating online avatars for musicians such as Justin Bieber, Cardi B and Shawn Mendes.

Genies has also partnered with brands like Gucci on branded digital items and launched a marketplace for NFT digital accessories – think clothes, shoes and backpacks for these avatars.

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