A Q&A with Cathy Hackl, chief metaverse officer at Journey

Above the previous 12 months, a new variety of CMO has begun to take keep in 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 concept park executive to head up its metaverse department in February and in June, Publicis introduced on a main metaverse officer of its very own — however the government was a virtual avatar, not a genuine man or woman.

In spite of this inflow of C-Metaverse-Os, these are nevertheless the early days of the metaverse. Couple individuals recognize what the metaverse truly is, and even less are genuinely geared up to tackle an executive part focused to this new sector. It is promptly turning into critical for companies to convey their metaverse know-how in-property — but it is nonetheless to be identified no matter if chief metaverse officers will turn out to be prevalent or go the way of other because-overlooked buzzword-based mostly C-level positions of several years previous, such as the chief social media officer or main brand protection officer.


CMO need to-haves: specialized knowledge of enabling technologies and equipment, concentrate on organization and tactic, more youthful point of view Industries investing in this form of CMO: gaming, technological innovation, style, style

To discover the track record, duties and potential long term of this new range of CMO, Digiday spoke with a person of the couple of gurus who is unequivocally skilled for such a purpose: Cathy Hackl, the co-founder and main metaverse officer at the innovation and style and design consultancy Journey.

Hackl entered the metaverse enterprise extensive just before the phrase entered the zeitgeist past yr. Prior to her time at Journey, she experienced stints as a VR/AR specialist and futurist for firms this kind of as HTC, Oculus, Magic Leap and Amazon. But her most convincing qualification for the purpose may possibly be her bona fide link to metaverse customers: she’s the mother of a few metaverse-native children, like a 10-12 months-previous who operates his own Roblox small business.

This interview has been flippantly edited and condensed for clarity.

How did you turn into the main metaverse officer at Journey?

I’ve been in metaverse-linked industries for about 8 several years I worked at HTC Vive as a VR evangelist through the company’s partnership with Spielberg’s adaptation of Prepared Player Just one I went around to Magic Leap and worked there as an company strategist for two years. Obviously, the chief futurist at Magic Leap at that time was Neal Stephenson, who coined the time period. Then I went in excess of to Amazon World wide web Providers, then inevitably still left to develop Futures Intelligence Team, which is a metaverse and Web3 advisory for brand names and companies trying to enter the place, which was obtained by Journey at the stop of past calendar year.

When I made Futures Intelligence Group, I made a decision, “I’m the CEO, the founder, but what am I truly executing here?” So I selected the title chief metaverse officer. One particular of the explanations I use that title is to begin a conversation about who is heading to manage the metaverse — what does it necessarily mean? I feel the folks that are heading to manage metaverse initiatives require to have a assortment of expertise, but what I have witnessed is a whole lot of debate about it. But I do imagine someone in the C-suite is likely to have to deal with this, and I individually feel that it’s not only a marketing thing. This goes beyond that. When I bought acquired by Journey, I claimed that my title was non-negotiable — you’re acquiring a metaverse organization right here.

Does it have to be named chief metaverse officer? I don’t know — each business is going to discover what feels extra cozy to them.

Cathy Hackl, co-founder and chief metaverse officer, Journey

So you anticipate that a lot more companies will be building this situation, or a single very similar to it, in the near long run?

Yeah, and I imagine you are presently observing it. Does it have to be identified as chief metaverse officer? I really don’t know — every corporation is likely to discover what feels much more relaxed to them. That becoming reported, a couple a long time ago, if you requested another person about a main electronic officer or main information officer, they would have been like, “we do not need that, that’s absurd.” So I assume issues evolve, but another person within the org will have to deal with some of the factors that occur with the metaverse.

What are the most important qualifications for a main metaverse officer?

I’m quite method-pushed, very business enterprise-focused. That said, I have extensive experience in numerous of the technologies: digital actuality, spatial computing, augmented actuality, cloud computing. So I truly feel that the men and women that are going to fill these roles are going to have, on some amount, a complex knowing of the enabling systems. Some are going to be stronger maybe on the AR and VR side, some are going to be more powerful on the World wide web3 facet, some might be stronger in gaming, but there does need to have to be some comprehension of the latest resources.

Which sectors do you anticipate will employ far more chief metaverse officers in these early days?

Style is where I’m viewing a good deal of this begin to happen. They are heading to occur from gaming, they are heading to arrive from AR and VR, they’re heading to come from Net3. What differentiates anyone that can direct this functionality is remaining that connector, that translator of types in between the technological and the organization side.

Will we commence to see Gen Z and Gen Alpha metaverse natives leapfrog the corporate ladder to occupy this form of position?

Why not? Sometimes, the smartest individual in the room may possibly be the youngest particular person. I’m not heading to say that a 15-yr-previous is likely to turn into a chief metaverse officer, but I think that there are heading to be sure things that the Gen Zs that are coming into the workforce are likely to have an understanding of on a extremely diverse level. My son’s very first concert was Lil Nas X in Roblox — it was not at a stadium, like you and me. He speaks about that in the 1st individual: “I observed Nas, I was there.” To them, it is not about the actual physical globe and the digital entire world. Everything is serious, it is just various. Gen-Alpha’s actuality is extremely blurry.

I’ve got a Gen Z/Gen Alpha, and then I have obtained two Gen Alphas, and it absolutely adjustments my viewpoint. I see how they interact with these systems, what they’re enduring, how they are developing, how they are planet-creating, what gaming signifies to them from a social and id perspective. So it informs a ton of what I do, and a ton of what I do is for them because I want to build a improved long term for them.