This week in the metaverse: BlackRock’s new ETF, Titanic artifacts as NFTs, and metaverse-coining novel Snow Crash gets its own Sotheby’s auction

February 24, 2023, 2:39 PM UTC
The world's biggest asset manager, BlackRock, launched a metaverse ETF this week.
Erik McGregor—LightRocket/Getty Images

Welcome to This Week in the Metaverse, where Fortune rounds up the most interesting news in the world of NFTs, culture, and the metaverse. Email with tips.

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, is letting investors take a dip into the world of metaverse investing with its new ETF. 

Launched this week, the new iShares Future Metaverse Tech and Communications ETF brings together holdings from several public companies that “are expected to contribute to the metaverse in areas including virtual platforms, social media, gaming, 3D software, digital assets, and virtual and augmented reality,” according to its prospectus.

Some of the top holdings for the ETF, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange, are Meta, Nvidia, and Apple. Notably, Microsoft shares have a lower weight in the ETF, as the company has been focusing more on artificial intelligence lately.

When asked if the ETF would still find an audience during Crypto Winter, a spokesperson for BlackRock directed me to a blog post by Jeff Spiegel, the head of U.S. iShares Megatrend and International ETFs. In the post, Spiegel lists several metaverse-related accomplishments, like the 1982 release of Microsoft Flight Simulator, the first to show color scenery, and points to Meta’s rebrand as evidence that the metaverse could continue to develop and grow.

“All told, year-over-year investment in the metaverse has grown from $1.5 billion in 2020 to $57 billion in 2021 and $120 billion in 2022,” Spiegel wrote. “A recent report by Citigroup claims that, at this rate, the metaverse addressable market could reach $13 trillion by 2030.”

The ETF was up nearly 1% at the close of trading on Thursday to $24.73, according to Bloomberg, up from its previous close of $24.49.

In other news: 

A new NFT collection featuring never-before-seen photos of late rapper Tupac Shakur launched on NFT marketplace MakersPlace this week. The collection, 2Pacalypse92: 17 Shots, includes six photographs of the rapper at a performance at Prince’s Glam Slam in 1992, which document a highlight in his rise to fame. Apart from the photos, taken by former Kronick Magazine editor Lawrence “Loupy D” Dotson, each buyer will also receive an original negative.

Courtesy of Lawrence “Loupy D” Dotson

Artifacts recovered from the Titanic could soon be a part of your (NFT) collection. Three companies, RMS Titanic (RMST), Hong Kong-based Venture Smart Financial Holdings, and NFT company Artifact Labs teamed up to preserve 5,500 assets from the sunken ocean liner as NFTs from RMST, which holds the exclusive rights to recover artifacts from the wreckage. Buyers will also get access to VIP events at exhibitions, seminars with historians, and privileged access to one-of-a-kind experiences.

Courtesy of Artifact Labs

To celebrate 30 years since the release of Snow Crash, the book by Neal Stephenson that first coined the word metaverse, auction house Sotheby’s announced a sale of physical and digital items tied to the book. Among the items is a one-of-a-kind tachi sword inspired by the novel’s protagonist, which comes with its own unique digital replica as an NFT. It also includes Stephenson’s original manuscript for the book, which the auction house estimated would sell for between $40,000 and $60,000. The auction house is also selling 35mm slides that Stephenson and a collaborator used to pitch the project as a graphic novel, which come with their own NFTs.

Courtesy of Sotheby’s

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