Imagine if shopping online felt the same as browsing through the aisles at brick-and-mortar stores, or if taking an online fitness class from a personal trainer could be as simple as doing it at the gym.

Those are some possibilities that may soon become reality in the metaverse. Ever since Facebook rebranded itself “Meta,” companies involved in its development have been firing on all cylinders. VR and AR (augmented reality) programming tools are taking off, as are companies that help brands develop virtual representations of their products. Marketplace sites for NFTs, which are a foundational element of the metaverse, are also growing fast.

In many ways, there is a land grab under way for this new territory. Some investors are literally shelling out millions of dollars for virtual real estate, such as Republic Realm paying $4.3 million for land in the virtual world Sandbox or paying $2.4 million for a plot in Decentralands’ Fashion District.

Meanwhile, some businesses are positioning themselves to be market leaders as the metaverse expands. Using data from Thinknum, we took a look at how some metaverse companies are pulling ahead of their peers while others may be slipping behind. Here are the insights we found.

Rec Room is jumping ahead of Improbable

London-based Improbable and Seattle-based Rec Room are two major players building programming engines for the metaverse. Although Improbable is the more established firm, Rec Room is quickly attracting more talent and a stronger social following, based on our data. Unsurprisingly, Rec Room has also recently raised $145 million at a $3.5 billion valuation, while Improbable has faced some struggles as of late.

Both platforms focus primarily on games. In addition to being a VR programming tool for games specifically, Rec Room itself is also a VR online game.

Based on our data from LinkedIn, we can see that Improbable had 714 employees and Rec Room had 152 on Jan. 7. Although Improbable is still the bigger company, over the past 6 months, Rec Room grew its employee count by 27%, adding 32 employees, while Improbable lost 30 employees, dropping 4%. 

Rec Room is also swiftly building its following on social media. On LinkedIn, Rec Room grew its follower count by 120% while Improbable’s only grew by 17%. For now, Improbable, founded in 2012, still has a much larger follower base overall at 26,800. The newer upstart, which was founded in 2016, has 3,740 LinkedIn followers.

On Twitter, Rec Room is comfortably ahead of Improbable. Rec Room’s follower count over the past year jumped 155% to 32,800. Improbable’s follower count, at 10,600, only inched up 6% over the past year.

Threekit is gaining on Marxent in digital asset-creation

What’s a virtual world without virtual objects to fill it? We took a look at two companies focused on the creation of digital assets, such as 3D virtual furniture or customizable virtual materials. 

Marxent, based in Miamisburg, Ohio (engineering headquarters in Austin) and Chicago-based Threekit both help retailers digitally recreate their products, and they are taking their tools to the metaverse. Threekit, though, appears to be pulling well ahead of Marxent based on metrics we track. 

Marxent, founded in 2011, last raised $15m in its Series C round of funding in January 2021. Threekit, founded in 2005, raised $35m in its Series B in November 2021.

On Twitter, neither has a huge presence. Threekit has only 739 followers while Marxent has about 3,100. Both added about 100 followers over the past year though, which means Threekit’s follower count is growing more rapidly.

OpenSea is by far the most popular NFT marketplace 

OpenSea, Rarible, SuperRare and MakersPlace  are all significant NFT marketplaces. Non-fungible tokens are going to be a major component of the metaverse. Because they are one-of-a-kind, they allow people to possess unique virtual products.

We know that OpenSea just raised $300 million in new venture capital at a valuation of $13.3 billion, giving it a lead over competitors in terms of funding. We can also tell from the data we have that there is no contest, however, when it comes to user activity. OpenSea is the clear winner in terms of web traffic.

In the week ending in Dec. 27, OpenSea had an average of over 1,000 daily pageviews per million, according to our data. By contrast, Rarible, SuperRare, and MakersPlace respectively had 68, 0.03, and 3.4 average daily pageviews per million in the same week.

Earlier this year, however, MakersPlace was growing faster in terms of traffic. But OpenSea pulled well ahead by July.

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