In the real world, land is a limited resource because the planet is finite and therefore so are its natural resources. That’s in part why Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are exploring space. So here’s a question: In the virtual world, space is theoretically limitless, so why is land so expensive and hard to buy in the metaverse?

This article is part of Road to Consensus.

For Justin Melillo, co-founder and CEO of Mona, this contrivance doesn’t make sense. “Artificial scarcity is just silly,” he said, criticizing platforms fueled by “land” speculation. In the Monaverse platform, there are no limits on land and no required fees to enter. Creators can access the platform through their web browser.

Mona is one of eight finalists in the inaugural Web 3 Pitch Fest, which is being hosted by Extreme Tech Challenge and CoinDesk and is part of the Consensus Festival in Austin, Texas. It was launched in 2021 by creators, for creators, Melillo said. He is a 3D visual artist who makes animated films, including work on “Abominable”and “The Croods 2” for DreamWorks, and immersive augmented reality and virtual reality experiences.

Before starting Mona with two friends, he worked at Magic Leap where he contributed to the creation of Mica, an artificial-intelligence virtual assistant. His co-founders include musician and full-stack engineer Alex Patin, a former Harvard SEAS blockchain innovation fellow who just stepped down as Mona’s chief technology officer, and visual artist Matt Hoerl, who holds 11 patents in the realm of virtual and augmented reality and serves as chief operating officer.

The co-founders determined that what would serve creators best is to allow creators to build and own their work but share it as part of an open, social metaverse. Mona spaces are unique 3D environments that creators build and mint on the Ethereum or Polygon blockchains. And they are interoperable across the metaverse, with portals to connect to other spaces within the Monaverse or other platforms like Decentraland and CryptoVoxels.

Since the launch, more than 3,000 creators have jumped aboard. “The metaverse doesn’t have to belong to big tech companies,” Melillo said in a statement about the Series A funding. “It can, and will, be a place for everyone.”

That accelerated growth caught the attention of investors. This week Mona closed its Series A funding round with $14.6 million invested by co-leaders Protocol Labs, Archetype and Collab+Currency. The oversubscribed round also counts big names, including ConsenSys, OpenSea Ventures, Placeholder, Polygon Studios, Venture Reality Fund and other crypto-native funds and angel investors.

Visual art is not Mona’s only medium. Melillo is also excited about a new partnership in which Mona is a flagship metaverse platform for the estate of Elvis Presley. More than 60 years after the creation of the first Elvis fan club, approximately 600 fan clubs still celebrate the King. With this partnership, the potential for the open metaverse is all shook up.


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