Women of the Metaverse: Natasha Brito of Austere

Because the industry is still quite new, the metaverse is creating a lot of firsts for several individuals and organizations. One of these firsts is the first virtual reality (VR) magazine.  Launched by the advertising company Austere, this VR magazine, known as the Metazine,  presents readers with a multi-media experience like never before. According to CEO and  Founder of Austere, Natasha Brito, the company had published a print magazine for the previous ten years. Now, thanks to this new technology, Brito and her team, specifically Patricia Stepaniuk and Olivia Fleming, are able to create the next generation of magazines. “This magazine’s focus is to essentially revolutionize the magazine industry,” Brito explained. “So, taking what you would traditionally read as an article online or in  print, and transcended into what Web3 and VR can do for you, which is to walk through the  experience and experience the story using multimedia elements along the way.”

The Metazine reflects Brito’s life-long interest in the technology of the future. “I grew up in a  very tech-friendly household,” she said. “My parents were both computer engineers. So I’ve  always embraced things, like my dad making robots at home and my mom designing crazy tech  layouts.” As she pursued her career, Brito kept an eye on where the technology, specifically  Web3, was going. “Web3 is the opportunity for the internet to be the best version of itself,” Brito  added. Even while working as the Head of Digital Engagement Creative at Pizza Hut US, and the  as a Creative Director at Sony Music Entertainment, Brito began looking more closely at  metaverse technology. “I was doing more research and learning about VR and AR, and knew it  would eventually become mainstream,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for that for years, holding off  on buying any technology because it would get cheaper. I think we are finally at that point.”  Brito is confident that the lower cost and better accessibility of this technology have allowed it to  become more mainstream.

Now as the CEO and owner of Austere, Brito is able to help bring the metaverse to others. “One  of the core industries we serve is the tech industry,” Brito explained. “So, as Web3 has become  more popularized, more businesses are falling into that category, and we’ve had an opportunity to  start serving those types of projects and brands that are doing something amazing.” Because of  this popularization, Austere has been able to help some big-name partners, including Atos, NFT  Oasis, Tech Daze, along with others. Brito believes that an expansion of this work in metaverse  advertising will impact the success of the Metazine. “That is my first chance to plant my stake in  the ground,” she added.

With ten years of magazine publication behind them, Brito and the rest of the Austere team use  their experiences in editorial design and story-telling to make a unique multi-media experience.  The Metazine launched in December 2021 with great success, and Brito is hopeful it will be the  same for the second edition’s launch later next year. With this evergreen second edition, viewers  can interact on their phones and computers, as well as with VR technology. “You’ll be able to walk through these different realms,” Brito explained. “There’s a fashion realm, an art realm, a  music realm, an activism realm, and a technology realm. You walk up to each of the doorways or  paths that go to a different realm. And through those, there are different stories featuring different  artists, creatives, business owners, and activists.” The multi-media aspects of this VR magazine  help draw the reader in and give them a next-level experience. According to Brito: “We can tell  stories through videos with paragraphs floating in the air, or spatial audio, or even interactive  elements as well. It will be very interesting to see how this evolves over time. Currently, we’re  the only ones doing anything like this.”

As one of the few female CEOs and business owners in this industry, Brito hopes to use her  influence to help usher in more diversity. From her work, she has found that the visible majority  in the metaverse is made of “crypto-bros,” trying to, as she puts it: “take over the industry before  everyone else.” While this may seem bleak, Brito isn’t as worried about a lack of diversity in this  space. “I think there is a much more silent group growing right now,” Brito postulated. “I’ve seen  a lot of women, queer people, and different minority groups who are jumping into Web3, they’re  just doing it more privately. And I think there’s an intention behind that, because the metaverse is  very much about community, and these more private, almost closed-off systems, create their own  community and can become self-sustaining. So, I actually think that is creating safe spaces for  everybody across the board to get involved and thrive.”

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry

Kenna Castleberry is the Science Communicator at JILA (formerly known as the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics) at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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