Business

Jay-Z's VC Firm Makes Investment to Help Create the Metaverse

Iddris Sandu, Jay Z
Lenny “kodaklens” Santiago*

Iddris Sandu and Jay Z

Blockchain and cryptocurrency investments are the new hot trend in the music industry.

One of the biggest talking points in the music industry right now is the metaverse, a shared virtual reality space that many believe will be the future of gaming and a major segment of the tech sector, and if investment patterns are any indication, the music industry may end up being a major player in it.

Marcy Venture Partners (MVP), the venture capital firm co-founded by Shawn "JAY-Z" Carter, Roc Nation vice-chairman Jay Brown and longtime venture capitalist Larry Marcus is investing in spatial LABS (sLABS), a tech incubator with a focus on the metaverse and blockchain-based products, the company tells Billboard.

Founded by Iddris Sandu — a 24-year-old technologist and entrepreneur who has worked with Uber, Instagram, Beyoncé's Ivy Park, and Kanye West's Yeezy brand — sLABS will launch its first product next year called LNQ, a blockchain-enabled hardware platform on which details are sparse (the company declined to comment further). Sandu says he wants to use LNQ to provide young creators with better tools to utilize the metaverse as it becomes a reality.

"Aligning with Marcy Venture Partners assists with our vision for elevating the youth as it relates to access and a means to true technological empowerment," Sandu said in a statement. "The lasting impact of this relationship is not simply defined by the work we’re doing now, but by the immeasurable impact for generations of creators to come."

"Iddris has a conscious world view and a youth-centric vision that is innovative and refreshing to witness," JAY-Z said in a statement. “We share similar parallels in how we imagine impacting people in our lifetime. Partnering with him on this journey and others is very exciting.”

This is the latest in a series of blockchain and cryptocurrency-based investments for MVP and JAY-Z, which includes the blockchain development platform Alchemy, the French startup Ledger which builds security infrastructure and hardware wallets for cryptocurrencies, and ₿trust, an endowment (currently worth around $28 million) created by JAY-Z and Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey to fund bitcoin development in Africa and India with the aim to "make bitcoin the internet’s currency," according to Dorsey.

Square recently acquired Tidal, the streaming service owned by JAY-Z (who now sits on the board of Square) for $300 million, and interim head of Tidal Jesse Dorogusker told Billboard back in March that decision was driven in part by opportunities "at the intersection of music and the economy," signaling we will see more financial products built into the music service.

With the investments and focus on cryptocurrencies and blockchain by both Dorsey and JAY-Z, it seems that we may see a more forward-looking financial approach to future products from Tidal.