Last month, Odyssey announced a €4 million seed investment to accelerate the development of its Momentum metaverse stack, an open source web3 version of Odyssey’s 3D mass collaboration space. Time to catch up with Odyssey founder Rutger van Zuidam, to talk about the Metaverse and all its future possibilities.
Odyssey, well known for its huge hackathons, calls itself a digital native foundation, focused on unlocking the collaborative superpowers of people, organisations and communities. Momentum, their 3D collaboration space, is currently being used by several large institutions such as Vattenfall, SAP, the Dutch government, and a number of universities, for their online collaborative activities. It is also being used by SMEs and NGOs such as the Sovereign Nature Initiative.
The next big leap
The Metaverse is dubbed by many as the next big leap in the evolution of the Internet. Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft and even companies like Nike, Adidas and Boeing are hopping on the bandwagon. Why is it suddenly so popular and what is it, exactly? And how’s Odyssey’s version different from, say, Zuckerberg’s plans?
“An easy way to explain it, is that the Internet is currently a collection of pages, where we consume content, like videos or articles”, Rutger explains. “The Metaverse is a collection of virtual spaces, instead of pages, with a focus on activities, instead of content. Our Momentum stack is a bit like the Wordpress of 3D spaces in that sense, where we give you all the tools to create your own space. So where for example Zuckerberg’s idea of a metaverse is centralized, with Meta the one being in charge of your data, ours is about decentralized user based ownership.”
“In other words, the Momentum stack enables people, organisations, and communities to create self-owned, custom 3D worlds in which users can host many types of initiatives and collaborative activities, while still being part of a global social network owned by the users”, Rutger continues. “That’s the real value of it, using the Internet to its fullest, global potential, as a space for creators. We’ll start seeing completely new ways of worldwide collaboration in anything you can create. Research, innovation and policy making, for example, as well as art, music, and education. Users will think of many things we wouldn’t think were possible. That’s what makes it so exciting.”
Born out of necessity
Odyssey’s Momentum was initially developed as a virtual alternative for the physical hackathon. “We organize events, with over 2500 people joining from all over the world, working on complex problems with large organizations, selected startup teams and a whole range of curated experts in many different fields”, Rutger explains. “So when the pandemic hit and after postponing twice, we really needed an alternative if we wanted to survive. But you can’t host an event of this size and have people collaborate using Teams, Discord or any event platform. Nothing that was currently available fitted our needs for an epic mass co-creation event.”
“So we decided to solve our own problem and build something new ourselves”, Rutger continues. Something like the combination of collaboration tools such as Miro and Google Workspace and a massive multiplayer online game (MMO). With a lot of really hard work from the team as well as all hackathon participants, that became Momentum and I don’t think we would still exist without it.”
A €4 million seed round
Momentum first debuted in November 2020 during the Odyssey Hackathon, hosted entirely in the metaverse, where hundreds of organisations and over 2,000 people collaborated simultaneously for 48 hours. Since May 2021, Momentum has been live as a closed alpha release, with several thousands of users experimenting and collaborating on innovation, art, education, events, hackathons, policy making and design sprints. On November 1st, Odyssey opened its alpha release to the public, so that anyone can freely start initiatives with Momentum.
Last month, Odyssey also announced it raised €4 million, from a range of investors, including Scytale Ventures, Maven 11 Capital, BR Capital and tech entrepreneurs Trent McConaghy, Ben Woldring and Ewald Hesse. The investment will be used to further develop Odyssey's Momentum metaverse stack to an open source web3 infrastructure, providing tools, economics, and a decentralised ownership structure.
“We already knew most of the investors quite well”, Rutger says. “They bring a ton of experience and deep understanding of the web3 space. What we are doing hasn’t been done before, so it’s all about how we can learn as much from each other as possible and make it awesome.. Odyssey, what’s in a name, is a journey and we’ve always been discovering the future by building it. We invite everyone to be part of that!”