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Infinite Canvas raises $2.8M for a metaverse creator group modeled after esports teams

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With the promise of an interconnected virtual world coming into focus and user-crafted gaming content exploding, Infinite Canvas is looking to apply lessons learned from the esports boom to the metaverse.

“Metaverse” is the hot buzzword right now, but it’s not an empty term. Ten different people would probably define the metaverse in 10 different ways, but it’s generally used as shorthand for the web of emerging virtual spaces full of personalized avatars, games and digital goods that are already shaping our world.

Much like the realm of esports boasts individual standout players who command their own followings, the social gaming world has its own stars who make original in-game content. But right now, creators making hit content in Fortnite, Roblox and Minecraft are mostly operating on their own, without the supportive infrastructure that quickly professionalized the esports world. And like the early waves of esports players, those content creators skew young and lack some of the resources that would make it smoother to scale the digital brands they’re building.

Founded by Tal Shachar and Sebastian Park, Infinite Canvas is looking to connect creators who craft content for the world’s most popular online games with the financial resources, tools and experience they need to grow their businesses beyond what would be possible in isolation.

Shachar, the former growth strategist at BuzzFeed Studios and chief digital officer at Immortals Gaming Club, and Park, previously VP of Esports for the Houston Rockets, where he founded League of Legends franchise team Clutch Gaming, envision a hybrid talent management company and game publisher modeled after the success they’ve seen in the esports world. The pair liken the new venture to “an esports team for the metaverse.”

To grow their vision, Infinite Canvas has raised $2.8 million in pre-seed funds led by Lightshed Venture Partners, the venture firm founded by media analyst Richard Greenfield. BITKRAFT Ventures, Day One Ventures, Crossbeam and Emerson Collective also participated in the funding round.

“We are just at the beginning of seeing what the metaverse market opportunity can be,” said Greenfield. “While the path to monetization is clear on platforms like YouTube, in virtual worlds Infinite Canvas is pioneering a network that will unite creators, players and content partners to enhance the earning power of the talent building new virtual empires.”

Out of the gate, Infinite Canvas has partnered with some big names in Roblox, including RussoPlays, DeeterPlays, Sabrina and DJ Monopoli from Terabrite Games, as well as a handful of other Roblox developers, Fortnite map makers and streamers who, combined, reach more than 4.5 million subscribers.

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For the team, this nascent era of user-generated gaming content looks a lot like another now-ubiquitous creator platform once did.

“Roblox in particular, but really all of these UGC gaming platforms, really reminded me a lot of YouTube. Which is to say that they were enabling a new type of person to distribute a content format that was previously kind of locked right behind like barriers of distribution and also of skills set and capital, quite frankly,” Shachar told TechCrunch.

After getting curious, Shachar and Park dove into the creator community and found a diverse array of generally self-taught young people from all around the world crafting custom in-game content for Fortnite, Roblox and Minecraft. Much of that content, whether intentionally or not, offered players more digital spaces to connect during the pandemic-imposed social isolation, which saw interest in online social spaces take off.

“Everyone was pretty negative about the world writ large and we’re just talking to these like 17, 16, 18, 19-year-old guys, gals and non-binary pals from all over the world, just like straight up making cool stuff,” Park said.

In those conversations, Park and Shachar realized that while the world of user-generated gaming content can produce huge hits, creators were mostly isolated from support that could help them take their work to the next level.

“It felt very siloed — you have people making content over here on the right and then people developing these games on the left and then players kind of in the center there and that didn’t really make a ton of sense to us,” Shachar said. “Especially because it was super clear that there was this really strong loop of content creation leading to gameplay leading to content creation.”

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With Infinite Canvas, they want to provide that missing framework, offering creators crafting content in virtual worlds everything from marketing support to capital and tech tools. As creator monetization channels within virtual worlds mature, Infinite Canvas hopes to even be able to broker ad and brand opportunities and empower creators to expand their own brands across platforms.

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“What if we built a new kind of organization that blended parts of being a game publisher, parts of being an esports team, parts of being a capital and tech backend to basically enable these people to do what they do but better and bigger?” Shachar asked.

“For the metaverse — whatever word you want to use — to really exist, it’s going to take all of these independent people to actually populate it and bring it to life and make all of these experiences and there’s just an insane amount of talent out there that we think can be unlocked.”

TechCrunch

NEWS

Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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Searchenginejournal.com

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