Women of the Metaverse: Cathy Hackl of Journey

Dubbed the “Godmother of the Metaverse,” Cathy Hackl is one of the biggest names in the metaverse industry. She has been at the top of many metaverse influencer lists and continues to help develop this new virtual space. As founder and Chief Metaverse Officer of Journey, a leading company in metaverse experiences, Hackl is helping to bring the metaverse directly to corporate America.

Hackl’s interests in the metaverse began in 2004. According to Hackl: “I was working at CNN, and had to sit through some horrible stuff because my job was to look at raw footage of the war in Iraq. At that moment, I always said I was a ‘YouTube Moderator’ or ‘Facebook Moderator,’ before they even existed.”

With her skills in bringing something new to entertainment and social media, Hackl began to grow a following. In the years later, Hackl transitioned from moderating to the metaverse due to an enriching experience. “I had an experience (much like an epiphany) that would change my life forever,” Hackl explained. “I was invited to a conference and used a virtual reality headset for the first time in my life. I entered into an experience called Confinement, but as soon as I walked in there, all I felt was a kind of magic that I had never felt before. At that moment, I realized that was the future of something and that I wanted to do it for the rest of my life.”

With her interest piqued in this new type of technology, Hackl found herself pursuing many different career endeavors within this growing industry. As she explained: “I’m a communicator who turned into a tech futurist.” Hackl has utilized her futurist skills to succeed in different positions within many big-name companies “I’ve been in metaverse-related industries for over eight years,” Hackl said. “I worked at HCT Vive as a VR evangelist during the company’s partnership with Spielberg’s adaption of Ready Player One.

Then I went to Magic Leap and work there as an enterprise strategist for two years. A few years later, I went over to Amazon Web Services, then eventually left to create my company Futures Intelligence Group, which is a metaverse and Web3 advisory for brands and companies trying to enter the space, which was acquired by Journey at the end of last year.” In working for several big-name companies, Hackl has been able to see a big picture view of the metaverse and its impact on the public.

Now as the Chief Metaverse Officer and Founder of the Metaverse Studio of Journey, Hackl feels that she is in her element. The company is a market leader in offering immersive events and one-of-a-kind experiences combining real-world and metaverse technology. From Marquee Singapore, a three-floor virtual concert venue, to partnering with Nasdaq, Journey stands out as a company to take note of.

As part of the company, Hackl also credits her team for helping to make the success possible. “I’m leading the Metaverse Studio department with Sasha Wallinger, the Head of Metaverse and Web3; Lee Kebler, World Building Director; and Lily Snyder, the Header of Metaverse researcher,” Hackl added.

As a well-known leader in this industry working with other women in her company, Hackl knows the importance of diversity within the metaverse. “The metaverse we are building takes into account everyone under the sun,” Hackl stated. “Diversity Equity, and inclusion (DEI), are crucial for the metaverse platforms because these values are the foundation of a decentralized dimension where everyone is welcomed to be whoever they want to be.” Hackl added that to make the metaverse more inclusive, the culture needs to be the focus point.

“Culture is about exploring identity, and the metaverse, and its anonymity, give the user the ability to explore identity in a way they can’t in the real world. But diversity not only includes self-identity but also power acquisition. So, we need to make the metaverse more accessible to everyone and not only luxury brands or celebrities.” Hackl highlighted this inclusion even more by adding: “When we talk about inclusion, we mean everybody.”

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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