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Corey Morris Bio
Corey Morris is currently the CMO at SynergyXR, however, throughout his entire career journey, he’s had an impressive number of various experiences. He was a co-host at a TEDxAarhus, and the CMO of a startup called Gaest that was acquired by Airbnb, where he later on, became a Global Marketing Lead. Long story short, everything he did, led him to the point today, where he is the CMO of a powerful no-code XR platform that helps companies work smarter in the Metaverse.
The Metaverse - a new term that seems to be known to everyone but sounds mysterious at the same time. Will the new technologies that come in tandem with Metaverse bring any good to how we live and work? How will it impact business, personal relationships, healthcare, and privacy?
Well, you are about to get these questions answered. In this interview, we're talking to Corey Morris, who works daily on discovering unique opportunities the Metaverse provides. And the topic we've chosen is self-explanatory: "The Metaverse: Amazing, Immersive, and Inevitable." So, without further ado, let's dive into the Metaverse, and what changes to our everyday life it will bring soon.
Nat: Tell us about SynergyXR and what you're doing there.
Corey: I'm the CMO of this amazing company based in Denmark called SynergyXR. Until about a year ago, we were actually called Unity Studios, founded by the same people that started Unity Technologies. That’s a unicorn company that makes 90% of the games that you have on your phone.
SynergyXR is a no-code cloud-based platform that basically lets companies work in the Metaverse - design, develop, sell, market, and support products across all XR (extended reality) devices.
We like to tell people that it's effectively a content management system, similar to WordPress, or Wix, just in the Metaverse. Most people, when they are just getting started, they're not 3D designers or 3D developers. They want to work in the Metaverse and use corresponding technology, but they don't really have a platform to do that. That's where we come into the picture.
Nat: As the CMO of a startup called Gaest, you and your team were acquired by Airbnb in 2019. Was it a successful acquisition, in your opinion?
Corey: I joined the company and was with them for a year and a half. And throughout that time, we managed to expand to 17 markets just in a relatively short period. We were still a fairly small team. Including our partners, there were less than 20 employees.
| Gaest was a marketplace for discovering, booking, and listing creative spaces for meetings and events.
Then suddenly, before we even knew it, we got a chance to become a part of this huge unicorn organization with 10,000 employees. For us, a small team with such an ambitious goal of making it easier for people to book creative meeting spaces, it was definitely kind of a dream come true.
Just recently, my CEO from Gaest and I had a conversation about this, agreeing that it was a crazy ride for both of us. Now, we're both back in the startup environment, but yes, being acquired by Airbnb was a fun experience.
Nat: What did you guys have that made Airbnb prefer you and not the others?
Corey: It comes down to a few things:
- We had excellent traction.
- We demonstrated how this idea could expand quite fast.
- We were in an area that Airbnb had on their radar (because Airbnb was looking into how to leverage other properties on the market that weren’t being used.
I think when you look in terms of growth, you often have two options: you can build it, or you can buy it. We were a quick way for them to get inventory and tech as we had an excellent team, tech stack that was built from the ground up all by ourselves.
And I think all of those things combined made it much easier for Airbnb to buy - or acquire - vs. build.
“So, the next evolution of the Internet is where we'll be able to use technology like augmented and virtual reality to immerse ourselves in vibrant digital worlds.”
Nat: From the marketing perspective, how is working in the Metaverse different from the way marketers do today?
Corey: The simplest way to approach this is to take a step back and understand what the Metaverse is. What I personally like to tell people is that it's effectively the next evolution of the Internet. And if you start there, then you can really begin to realize that, for example, there's no CMO whose work doesn't revolve around the Internet today.
So, the next evolution of the Internet is where we'll be able to use technology like augmented and virtual reality to immerse ourselves in vibrant digital worlds.
We saw a similar thing back in 2005 when we had Second Life. It was kind of a precursor to the Metaverse, but still, a very early 2D experience, where you were interacting with the environment through a screen, and you didn't really have a lot of options for building things.
What happened in the meantime is the fact that technology has advanced much faster and further. And now, we have devices like we didn't have before, e.g., wearable devices, which allow us to enter into vibrant digital worlds where we're going to see the physical and the digital world become combined.
Unlike with Second Life, now we'll be able to go into our screens, which is hard to imagine. What's equally interesting is that the things that we're used to interacting with on our screens - laptops, desktops, phones, or tablets - those digital elements will be layered on top of our physical world, meaning the physical and the digital will become one. On the technical side, that is powered around the idea of spatial 3D. So information will be available in new and more powerful ways for marketers and for customers.
What's really exciting about the Metaverse for marketers is that it's going to radically change the approach, in the 'accelerate' kind of change. The Metaverse will become a new opportunity for marketers to create a brand experience and to put their products and services in front of people based on time, location, and maybe even feelings. It's going to give us the opportunity as marketers to connect with our customers in new and powerful ways.
On the other hand, there are lots of ethical issues. Suddenly, we're sharing a whole other dimension of personal data with companies. Suddenly, there's facial recognition. We've seen that some parts of the world can abuse the idea of facial recognition by suddenly monitoring people with negative consequences. That doesn't necessarily mean that we have a blank check to use this data as we want to. But I think that's a conversation that we definitely need to start having because do we want to share this information with everyone?
I think privacy and data security issues are some of the most intensively discussed issues when it comes to the Metaverse and the Corporate Metaverse. I think companies that are doing this in the capacity of their organizations aren't necessarily excited about sharing all their information with companies like Meta, Microsoft, and Google.
The Metaverse will become a new opportunity for marketers to create a brand experience and to put their products and services in front of people based on time, location, and maybe even feelings.
Nat: The Metaverse is a relatively new idea. And the Corporate Metaverse is even newer. So, we're still discovering its possibilities, and some of them may haven't even crossed our minds yet. Can you please give some examples of how your company is already using it today?
Corey: When we talk about the Corporate Metaverse, it’s basically how the Metaverse applies to businesses vs. consumers - so like B2B vs. B2C. . Let's get into a time capsule real quick and go back 30 years.
In the early 90s, the Internet was coming out. How were companies really using the Internet back in the mid-90s? They were using it in terms of the Intranet. It's been a while since we've talked about the Internet versus the Intranet. But that's where we are right now when it comes to the Metaverse versus the Corporate Metaverse.
So right now, we're working with companies to create their own Metaverse. It's a closed-off environment, where you can come in, but through invitation only. We focus a lot on privacy, security, and control especially when it comes to the content users are sharing and who has access to IP is very important.
That's where we are right now - we don't have a standard platform (like a web browser) for these Metaverses where you can just put in a web address and suddenly jump from website to website. That will surely happen in the future, but we're not there quite yet.
Currently, we're also seeing the very early stages of how companies are leveraging things like augmented, virtual, and mixed reality, which effectively are our gateways to the so-called Metaverse. I have a few examples.
About a month and a half ago, we had a podcast that had about 1500 people sign up. We talked about 12 ways that companies are already using the Metaverse in 2022. It's a great talk , and I want to spotlight a few insights from it:
- If we look at eCommerce, one of the things that we see a lot of focus on today is the whole 'try before you buy' movement.
For example, using augmented reality, Adidas has made it possible for you to take a phone and look through it to see how shoes will actually look on your feet. This feature is obviously boosting their overall eCommerce sales. But what it actually does is remove the pain point of having to buy five different pairs of those and have them sent home. It costs a lot of money, and most of the time, you're going to send those back anyway (that also has a huge environmental impact). Also, the 'try before you buy' feature creates a much more powerful user experience enabling you to try different colors and styles with just a few button clicks.
When it comes to the Metaverse, I think we're going to see an alternative to this in terms of virtual dressing rooms.
- What about Metaverse in terms of remote support?
So, imagine you work for a company that produces something. What if those processing machines go down, e.g., on the other side of the world, in remote locations? What companies typically do right now is have a hardcore team of technicians to send out to the location to fix those machines. And such downtime is a bad time for companies, it can cost them millions.
So what we see companies doing better is using mixed reality where they're able to give frontline employees (people who are on location but who are maybe not technical experts) a special type of headset. Most often, it would be Microsoft HoloLens 2 headset.
Then, a machine expert can sit in an office, see what that frontline employee's eyes are seeing, and be able to send them diagrams and schematics which appear as 3D objects in front of the employee. And the cool thing is that the frontline employee can use their hands to actually touch the 3D objects and move things around. This way, companies can fix such problems much faster without sending personnel to the frontline.
One of the companies that we worked with was able to reduce their downtime from 2-3 days just to 2-3 hours. So that does save the company a ton of money and reduces the travel time required to get that expert from A to Z.
Additionally, it not only has a huge environmental impact, but it also improves the life quality for everyone. Downtime can be an extremely stressful period for a frontline employee. As well as for the technician who always has to be on standby and go and fix this machine at a moment's notice. That's not a good work-life balance for either of those workers.
- Anyone who has suffered from the fear of public speaking knows that the best way of overcoming that is through practice.
But in reality, it's hard to gather a group of people just to practice on.
There's a cool company called Mursion that offers things like leadership training, presentation skill training, and mental health awareness. Using virtual reality, we can immerse people into these environments, oftentimes stressful ones that allow them to basically trick their brains into thinking that it's real life. And it helps them overcome some of these hurdles and challenges.
Also things like giving feedback seems easy in theory as well. But in practice, it requires much training, especially when it's often met with pushback.
So this is really where we can use the power of virtual simulation to create another level of emotional connection that we're maybe not able to do in real-world environments.
Before, people did mock presentations having mock feedback sessions. While this practice is great and obviously much more realistic, it's also more time-consuming.
When it comes to the Metaverse, a person can put on a VR headset anywhere, anytime, and practice as many times as they want to.
So when we are able to use this technology to save people's lives, that's what matters the most.
Nat: What is the craziest use case of the Metaverse you've heard so far?
Corey: I’ve given this some thought, and I love it when this technology has a more human impact. One thing is making it easier for us to buy more stuff, which we probably don't need anyway. The other is to teach us soft skills.
But when you can save people's lives, that's where it matters the most.
This example is going to be from the healthcare industry. A group of physicians around the world was able to train in virtual reality to learn how to save the lives of these conjoined twins in Brazil. When you do an MRI or CT scan, you actually get a 3D model. What those doctors were able to do was meet in virtual reality, use those 3D models, and plan the surgery.
It took over a three-month period just to figure out how they would do this. The operation became one of the world's most difficult and complex conjoined twin separations. I don't think that VR is the only reason why they were successful, but it did allow them to go in and use a simulated environment - a new technology - to improve the way they were doing it.
It was a more concerted effort of experts from all around the world, and a huge contributor to this being a successful surgery is to meet in and see things in 3D and not in 2D.
So when we are able to use this technology to save people's lives, that's what matters the most.
Nat: If you met a 10-year-old Corey, what would you tell him?
Corey: I'd say: "Don't worry about that girl that just broke up with you. Stop crying, you'll be fine.
No, honestly I’d say hey, we got this. Life is gonna be really, really hard for us. You're going to be tossed quite a few fastballs andr curveballs. But at the end of the day, you're going to be fine.
You have absolutely no idea how unpredictable and how crazy this ride is going to be. But just hang on, hang tight. Remember to enjoy every single moment. And don't change a single thing about you."
It's a pretty poignant thing to think about having a conversation with your 10-year-old self, though. Do you really want them to change anything? Or does it have a lot to do with how you feel about yourself today? Because everything that happened in the past contributes to who you are today.
Nat: What are you proud of the most?
Corey: I'm proud of who I've become. The fact that I've come from very little, and I've managed to achieve what I have in my life - both in terms of my professional and my personal life.
I come from a part of the world where the expectations aren't that high for most people. Let's say I'm at a station in my life that neither I nor anybody else expected me to be.
Nat: What is your biggest regret?
Corey: Doubting myself that I couldn't have gotten to where I was. And probably, I could've actually gone further. But I think it's natural to have impostor syndrome and self-doubt, which can also turn into something positive.
Obviously, you also need to reflect on things to learn from them. But I don't wanna go back and regret doing anything. I try to flush it and just move.
So, the most important thing is to keep it in the past and keep focused on what you can change going forward.
Nat: What is your longest marathon?
Corey: Funny story: I signed up for an ultramarathon during Covid, but it got canceled. And I was like: “I’ve done all this training, I’m going to do it anyway”. So I ran a 100-kilometer run all by myself on a 5-kilometer loop. And I just had everything prepared in the trunk of my car so that every time I did a 5K loop I could just stop and grab something.
It took me about 9-10 hours overall, but I’m happy I did it.
Nat: What is the main lesson you learned from the marathons?
Corey: You can do anything you set your mind to, especially when it comes to physical endurance. But running for me is a physical, mental, and spiritual thing at the same time. I’ve never regretted going for a run in my life.
Nat: Describe yourself with one word.
Corey: A fighter.