Men in suits with banker bags. Jargon for the sake of jargon. Ninety-eight percent of funding for people with a Y chromosome. When it comes to traditional finance, women have not only been left out of the conversation, but completely dismissed and excluded. And Silicon Valley has been, historically and notoriously, a tech bro’s world—a shame since the industry has been among the fastest growing and most lucrative for decades, dating back to the dotcom boom of the 1990s. The ultimate result: major obstacles for women when it comes amassing wealth and attaining leadership positions.
We hate for history to repeat itself but, unfortunately, we’ve got deja vu. Cryptocurrency, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and the Metaverse are getting all the hype. And all are part of Web3, which is, in short, the next iteration of the Internet. Similarly to how social media and e-commerce changed the way we live, work, and shop, Web3 will affect everything from your investment portfolio, to your future job prospects, online security, and more. McKinsey predicts that by 2030, the metaverse’s market value could skyrocket to $5 trillion. Yet, about 43 percent of men ages 18 to 29 have invested in, traded, or used a cryptocurrency, compared to 19 percent of their female peers, according to Pew Research. Out of 121 of the world’s leading crypto companies, only five included a woman founder. Even women NFT artists are outnumbered in the space; research shows that 77 percent of NFT sales go to male creators, and women make up less than 20 percent of the market.
Yes, the industry is moving at a rapid—and, it seems, intentionally confusing—pace. But instead of sitting out on this defining shift in tech, finance, and art, we’re here to help women learn the basics and understand the risks and rewards. Even if you never buy bitcoin, knowing what it is (and the world that surrounds it) has benefits for investors, businesswomen, creators, and, frankly, anyone with a bank account.
Bringing Your Brand Into the Metaverse
For many companies, moving into Web3 aligns with marketing’s golden rule of “meeting your customers where they are.” Savvy millennials and even savvier Gen-Zers are open to it—so much, in fact, that Facebook underwent a high-profile rebrand last year. Now called Meta, the tech company has invested $10 billion in its metaverse division, betting on the rise of crypto optimism.
But early Web3 builders have been working on crypto, NFTs, and the metaverse since far before Mark Zuckerberg joined the party. Until recently, most experts expected that augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and virtual worlds would have to be commonplace before mainstream consumers would be excited about the idea of the spatial web. But after two years of adapting to Zoom calls, the idea of living in a parallel virtual reality doesn’t seem that far-fetched.
Given this cultural shift, software developers and engineers are creating technological infrastructures to enable true digital ownership. If they pull it off, “buying” a digital item will mean actually owning it the way we do physical items, like clothing, houses, and cars. And that equals business opportunity.
It’s all very innovative. But when you’re an entrepreneur or an employee tasked with making strategic decisions about allocating your company’s budget, it’s also stressful. “There's so much innovation constantly happening,” said Alexa Lombardo, founder and head of strategy at Atomic No. 8, a creative studio for Web3 storytelling. “A lot of the companies don't even know how to look inward and ask, ‘But what are we doing and why?’ because they're just so focused on what the guy next door is doing.”
No other designer has delved fearlessly into the metaverse quite like Rebecca Minkoff. The founder of her eponymous label and serial investor in women-owned brands often collaborates with NFT marketplace Mavion to drop digital fashion and accessory lines. Here, she offers a meta-career mentoring session.
- A Web3 strategy is going to take repetitive and consistent communication and messaging—you won’t convince people with the first email or the first tweet.
- Strategic partnering is everything. We purposefully partnered with companies that had Web3 audiences already. That's why we partnered with Mavion, because we know we're talking to an entirely new customer and they're the ones that already get it and are excited about it.
- See it as a chance to expand your existing customer base. Our brand has gotten to the eyeballs of an entirely new, mostly European audience from our first two drops.
Is Now A Bad Time to Invest in Crypto?
“Women are seeing cryptocurrency and Web3 as this new mechanism. They’re thinking, Oh, I get to be a part of this change. Like, forget stocks, let me just focus on Web3,” says Kat Garcia, cofounder of Cheres, an investing app. But we are (as of our press date) in a bear market. And just because something is trendy, doesn’t mean it’s smart. “It's important to know both [traditional stocks and cyber opportunities] because we're still in this transitory space. You need both economies to be able to thrive.” The cryptocurrency market has fallen from a peak of nearly $3 trillion in November of 2021, to less than $1 trillion at several points this year. Bitcoin, basically the Kleenex or Coke of crypto, lost more than 70 percent of its value in 10 months.
Still, a bad market doesn’t necessarily equate to a bad time to invest—and that includes in the traditional stock market. Some compare it to a sale at your favorite store. One wealth advisor put it this way: “If LIVELY had a 20 percent sale off all of its store items right now, you’d be curious. Investing during a bear market is an opportunity to invest when stocks are on ‘sale,’ especially if you believe in those companies or that the technologies will recover in the long-term.” Others say it may also be a chance to get in on the ground floor. “I think about when Amazon stock was at $6. Like, I'm not buying this weird book company that sells books online, but man, I wish I did! Right?,” says Michelle Cordeiro Grant, founder of Lively and a Web3 enthusiast. “This is like our chance not to look back and say, ‘Whoa, we missed it.’ This is our chance to say, ‘Let's understand it and get on the roller coaster so that when it does start coasting, we have the tools and information in terms of what to do next.”
No matter what, don’t even think about investing (whether in NFTs or ETFs) unless your basic finances are in order. No emergency fund and not maxing out your 401K? Forget about putting your money in the Metaverse.
So You Want to Work in Web3
These careers will be in-demand as a result of the next evolution of the web.
Developers and designers. Companies that plan to launch metaverse activations will either need an in-house dev team or talented freelance digital designers to code virtual spaces and avatar wearables.
Marketing pros. No matter how tech-driven, a Web3 initiative cannot exist in a silo; it must be incorporated into a comprehensive marketing strategy.
Community managers. Think of this “customer service” role as less about fielding complaints and more about moderating a 24/7 conversation among users and stakeholders. Companies will need pros to lead NFT drops, manage community perks, monitor polls, and keep a pulse on the “vibe.” Brush up on those Discord skills—this platform is by far the most common among NFT projects and crypto startups.
Social media strategists. Instead of posting shallow Facebook announcements and Instagram carousels to gain likes, Web3 companies are obsessed with finding a smaller, but more loyal, band of followers.
Legal Counsel. Yep, companies will have to lawyer up to protect themselves from very real regulatory repercussions. The SEC is cracking down on NFT projects and companies that launch crypto tokens without disclosing that they could be considered, as many argue, unregistered securities. NFTs themselves raise multiple questions about artwork and intellectual property law. And as the legal concept of “ownership” extends to video game items, we need the brightest legal brains to help us sort out how exactly that’s going to work.
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Megan DeMatteo is a service journalist currently based in New York City. In 2020, she helped launch CNBC Select, and she now writes for publications like CoinDesk, NextAdvisor, MoneyMade, and others. She is a contributing writer for CoinDesk’s Crypto for Advisors newsletter.
- Tanya Benedicto KlichSenior Editor
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