If you find that the metaverse announced by Facebook is a futuristic concept, it is not yet futuristic enough for the Montreal founders of Lighthouse Labs. Their ambition is to set up a search engine for even more mysterious versions of the metaverse, which will be based on the blockchain in the manner of cryptocurrencies.
Just five months after its founding, the company has managed to convince investors to put in $9 million, following a funding round led by Accel, BlockTower and Animoca Brands to be announced on Wednesday.
For Jonathan Brun, co-founder and CEO of Lighthouse Labs, already existing metaverses like those offered by Roblox, Fortnite and soon Facebook are only a first step. It is estimated that more than 40 million people spend time there once a month, communicating with their fellow human beings through an avatar in these virtual universes.
What is Lighthouse Labs’ playground is the sequel, called “Web3”, with metaverses that will no longer depend on established platforms, but will be blockchain-based. This decentralized ledger, whose integrity is guaranteed by millions of users, represents “the future of the industry,” Brun said.
There are currently some 500,000 monthly users in this type of environment, on platforms such as The Sandbox and Decentraland, where, for example, digital land plots can be purchased.
“It’s still very emergent,” he agrees. The notion of metaverse, when you think of web2 platforms like Roblox, it’s established, and it’s amazing how much time people spend there. »
The great challenge of these decentralized metaverses is to be able to be indexed so that users have access to them, like what search engines like Google and DuckDuck Go allow for the web. Traditional indexing methods, based on crawlers, however, will no longer be effective in the 3D interactive media of the metaverse, explains Justine Massicotte, co-founder and chief technology officer.
“Crawlers aren’t suited for immersive worlds at all, they’re basically text-based. »
The Lighthouse Labs search engine will instead feed directly from the blockchain register, which is public, as well as from the content of major players with whom we will try to conclude partnerships.
But that’s not all. Twenty-four years after the creation of Google and eighteen years after that of Facebook, the founders of Lighthouse Labs dream of a truly democratic and decentralized web, like the way cryptocurrencies work.
“As a company, we are going to decentralize, announces Jonathan Brun. When the partnerships are made and we have an online platform, we will launch a non-fungible token (NFT), which will be available to people in the community. Our users will be involved in governance. »
The 9 million raised should accelerate the development of the project and more than double the number of people on the team, which will increase to 15. “The more we are able to hire, the faster you will see a prototype, promises the CEO. The focus is on growing the team, both in engineering and growth, and we take pride in building a local Montreal team. »