Ep. #1173 - Virtual Finance: The Rise of Digital Asset Ownership
Today’s episode of Startup Hustle features Matt Watson and Beau Button, President & CTO of Atlas Reality. Together they discuss the rise of digital asset ownership. Hear Beau explain Atlas Earth, how it works, and how to earn through virtual real estate games. They also talk about Web3, the responsibilities of a CTO, and the difference between playing to win and not to lose.
Covered In This Episode
Most people don’t really understand how you can own something virtually. Despite that, digital asset ownership is on the rise. Atlas Reality creates platforms that gamify the concept.
Listen to Matt and Beau discuss the Web3 movement and the goals of Atlas Reality. Beau describes how it came to be and its various iterations, Atlas Empires and Atlas Earth. He explains his business model that relies on partnerships with brands and merchants. The conversation turns to the responsibilities of a CTO, making money playing Atlas Earth, building high-quality products, and more.
Don’t get left behind with cutting-edge technology. Dig into virtual finance and digital asset ownership in this Startup Hustle episode.
- The Web3 movement (1:01)
- What is Atlas Reality (1:48)
- How did Atlas Reality come to be? (3:21)
- Atlas Empires (4:59)
- Atlas Earth (5:50)
- Partnership with brands and merchants (7:22)
- Technical headwinds for scaling (10:15)
- Using Unity game engine (10:46)
- The challenges that Atlas Reality is facing (12:01)
- Atlas Reality’s co-founders (14:19)
- The responsibilities of a CTO (15:56)
- It takes different disciplines to build high-quality products (21:44)
- Virtual real estate platforms (23:43)
- Making money playing Atlas Earth (25:33)
- A revenue-sharing opportunity for players (29:44)
- Land and improvements in the secondary markets (32:56)
- Interacting with other users (36:08)
- Atlas Earth’s the Editor (37:52)
- Don’t give up (39:47)
I think the problem for a lot of entrepreneurs is they think hiring a CTO is like going to be the lead developer and run all the software, which can be the case. But if a company grows and scales, what they need from that person is actually totally different. I think CTO should always be good at the proof of concepts, making technology decisions, right? But also, asking the questions that nobody else asks or knows how to ask or will think of, and it just comes from doing this for long enough.– Matt Watson
[Atlas Reality] is a revenue-sharing opportunity for our players. We’re just a standard company who decided to take some of their profits. And what we do with that is very unique. So instead of just taking those profits and giving a percentage back to the players, we manage our own treasury. So if I were to talk about this very candidly, again, the disclaimer here is this is a game; it’s not an investment. It’s a facade for an investment platform; you give us money, we take that money, we grow that money, and we share back some of the gains with you.– Beau Button
There are days where you’re, like, I don’t know how we’re gonna get through this. But obviously, having great partners, great employees, great culture, all of that. I stand on the shoulder of giants. And I’m not talking about previous successful entrepreneurs. I’m talking about hard-working employees that can do a lot of work. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.– Beau Button
Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt Watson 00:00
And we’re back for another episode of Startup Hustle. This is your host today, Matt Watson excited to be joined today by Mr. Beau Button who is the President and CTO of Atlas Reality. He’s done some really cool stuff in the location-based schemes, virtual real estate, all sorts of different stuff. I’m excited to talk all about it. Today, we’re gonna talk about virtual finance and digital assets. It’s gonna be a fun conversation. Before we get started, I do want remind everybody that today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult, Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably and has the platform to help you manage that team. Please visit FullScale.io to learn more. Beau, how are you doing, man?
Beau Button 00:40
Doing well, just trying to stay cool down here in the south? How about yourself?
Matt Watson 00:44
Doing pretty good doing pretty good, man. So tell me today I’m gonna talk about virtual finance and digital assets. And so when I think of that, I immediately think of crypto and blockchain and all that stuff, like, so we’re what do we start with this today?
Beau Button 01:01
Yeah, I mean, I’ve I’ve, I’ve steered clear of kind of the Web3 movement as a technologist. I appreciate blockchain. But as a product driven kind of company. We’ve tried to make our products as simple as possible. And there’s really nothing about Web3 onboarding that simple yet.
Matt Watson 01:19
So hang on, hang on a second. You’re saying we don’t need web three for anything.
Beau Button 01:23
I didn’t say anything. I think there’s some interesting verticals, where Web3 is useful. But for us in games, right now, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Even
Matt Watson 01:33
Wait a second. We can create stuff without Web3 because I heard that everything had to be Web3, like, the future of the entire world was Web3 like there. There was no way we would survive without it. You’re saying there’s a way?
Beau Button 01:45
Matt Watson 01:46
Holy moly, a there’s a way!
Beau Button 01:48
Yeah, earth shattering news. But yeah, I crossed paths with somebody who told me that there was going to be a Web3 game engine. We build the entire game. I was like, No, dude, that’s not something I’m interested in. But yeah, Atlas Reality that company that I’m co founder of, and President and CTO we are a play-to-earn gaming platform virtual real estate. And we are off chain there’s no dovetails right now into crypto at all. It’s all fiat, you make cash, you earn cash rather.
Matt Watson 02:13
Well, and I, you know, people talk about using Web3 for, Oh, you can buy assets in the game and you could buy and sell them to other character, other people and all that kind of stuff. And like, you know what I did that 25 years ago on a bulletin board on a Gallup and I bought, you know, somebody sword from some game and I didn’t have blockchain then figured it out. And by the way, people like, Fortnight make like billions of dollars a year selling Patrick Mahomes jerseys, or bunny costumes, whatever. And there’s no blockchain for, like, somehow or another, we’re able to do this stuff.
Beau Button 02:48
So yeah, I mean, look, you can use a standard relational database to power a solution like that there are some elements of like, the distributed distribution, the transparency, you know, the the, you know, it’s a public ledger, there is there’s an element to that, that I like where people can kind of scrutinize it. But you could also, you know, build a static website, or some type of dynamic website that, you know, kind of shows the transactional history of items. But yeah, I’m kind of I subscribe to the same kind of theories uses. We build games, and Web3 is not part of that right now, for us, even in the virtual real estate space.
Matt Watson 03:21
Well, I love that, that you guys are kind of the, you know, didn’t require that and you’re able to build this. So how did you how did you get into this? How did Atlas reality come? Come to be?
Beau Button 03:32
Yeah, so originally, we started a company called Cerberus Interactive, it’s the same entity, we just rebranded and we were really an independent game development shop. We weren’t creating our own games, we’re building games for other companies. I’ve spent most of my career owning or operating an ISV, building software for other businesses. And my current business partner saw me, he was in user-acquisition marketing, and said, I want to create or I want to build games, and I was foolish enough to say, You know what? Let’s do that. I quickly realized that it’s equally as is just terrifying to build games for people as it is to build line of business apps. It’s not as fun games are fun, but building games for other people is not fun. So we pivoted and we started really, honestly, we were building location-based games because we were inspired by Pokemon GO and now yeah, pretty cool. Yeah, it came out right around the same time, we were pivoting and I was, like, I have a lot of background in GIS, spent 10 years in the distressed real estate space building software for liquidating distressed real estate. So I said, you know what, let’s build location-based games. And that’s how we started the virtual real estate side of this Atlas Earth. Our first game was called Atlas Empires. The second game, which is the game that’s most popular as you know, it was it was inspired by the Web3 movement, I saw a SandBox, I saw Decentraland I saw UpLand and I’m like, man, this is cool. It’s location-based. You can sell real estate but like, I don’t need the blockchain. So kind of going back to what we just talked about. That’s how I got into this.
Matt Watson 04:59
So you have two games you have Atlas Empires, you mentioned, and then Atlas Earth. So Atlas Empires, can I, like, go is that like playing like Clash of Clans or something in my own neighborhood? Is that what it is?
Beau Button 05:12
It’s a location-based inspired Clash of Clans slash Pokemon Go mashup. Okay, it’s been out for almost four years now. It was commercially for financially, it was a success, but I will be honest with you, the community’s dwindled because Atlas Earth represents 99.999% of our revenue. So we’ve been focusing on that. Okay, yes, you can install it today. It’s still relatively active, but it’s definitely not as entertaining because you can’t find other people to join your empire. That’s the hardest part right now. Is it that was empires, and there aren’t enough people to kind of participate in your empire.
Matt Watson 05:50
So what are people doing, Atlas Earth?
Beau Button 05:52
Yeah, so right now, it’s arguably not a game. It we have to because of legal reasons. You know, market it as a game, but you come in, we give everybody one free piece of land. So we call them parcels, much like your tax assessor would call it and it’s 30 feet by 30 feet, it’s based on a real map. So where you’re standing right now, based on your GPS, you know, radio. You can buy that land, and that land has one of four rarities, and it’s random. So it’s a common or rare and epic or legendary, and each one of those generates rent per second. So that’s kind of the game loop is. You own a piece of land, you either buy it or you do something in the game to earn our in-game currency in order to buy it, a lot of people just buy it or they use the free one. And then from there, it generates rent per second. Obviously, if you buy one piece of land, your RPS is not going to be enough to move any needle. It’s fractions of a fractions of a penny per second. But you can watch ads, you can buy products that brick and mortar, brick and mortar merchants that are partners with us, we’ve got about 20 or so brick and mortar partners where you can go swipe your Visa or MasterCard, and in real time, get rewarded with our end game currency, which then let you buy land. So we do have a lot of free-to-earn players that are in there, getting land and not spending money and generating rent per second. Once that rent accumulates to $5, you can redeem it for cash. So that’s kind of the name of the game is your rent per second accumulates, you can either redeem it for additional AB Atlas bucks or in game currency or you can have it deposited straight into your account.
Matt Watson 07:22
So, as you know, a website you have partner partnerships with Burger King, and in the end, Popeyes and Sonic, Jimmy, John’s all these companies. So does that mean if I download the app, I can go to like my local Burger King. And like it exists in the in the game?
Beau Button 07:39
It’s a little different. So you won’t see Burger King in the game. But what we have are location-based offers or missions, we, the industry refers to them as offers in the game because of you know, the naming around like an end game mission, you have an option to enroll your Visa or MasterCard. And this was a huge hurdle for us because it’s a video game asking for your credit card. And it’s like why? Well, we only asked for the 16 digit card number, we don’t ask for the CVV to or expiration. And then we reach out to Visa and MasterCard and we get a random account. And that allows us to basically get notifications when you actually purchase at one of our participating merchants. We then use that to give you an in game pop up. And there’s a conversion rate. Every merchant is kind of different. But if you were to go buy a whopper right now and your credit card was enrolled, you would get a push notification the minute you drove away from the cashier and they would say hey, you spent $10, you got 10 Atlas bucks.
Matt Watson 08:32
Okay, so is that a so do, do any of these other merchants helped promote you guys? I mean, was
Beau Button 08:38
Not yet. I mean, it’s still a tough sell, you know, the the Web3 movement. I mean, it hasn’t all been bad for us not not that it’s been particularly bad. But it’s like we didn’t jump into that. But the Metaverse and Decentraland like these brands are obviously aware of what most are some people are considering the future. I’m not as convinced but no, we don’t have any one particular brand that’s like really a fanboy they’re all kind of getting their feet wet. I’d say you know, Burger King has been the most successful for us, outside of Speedway, which is a gas station on the East Coast. That was the most successful primarily because the average ticket price there is about $50. Because fuel is expensive and waffles aren’t.
Matt Watson 09:20
So to So does somebody, like, Burger King is actually giving you guys money, like, they give you 1% or something like that.
Beau Button 09:28
That’s exactly right. So basically, we have a BD team bizdev goes out, they all come from the food quick service industry, and we aren’t out contracts where we get a commission on the sales. So it’s really not a cost to Burger King. It’s not a discount to the player. That’s a big deal from a perception they don’t want to offer discounts but we get a commission so some of these range between 10% and you know 4% So if a player goes and spends $100 and we have it till we get $10 which is great in this industry, you know our our initial IP in app purchase starting point price is $4.99. And Apple takes 30% of that. And once it hits the checking account, it’s basically nothing so 10% on a large ticket is really it’s, it’s good from a revenue perspective for okay.
Matt Watson 10:11
And so business is good for you guys. You guys are growing.
Beau Button 10:14
Absolutely. I mean, the game is doing well. We’re growing you know, nicely. We’ve had some technical headwinds for scaling with scale. I think we’ve navigated most of those right now. The the biggest headwind for me, despite me being on the technical side of the organization, I also do all of the hiring is finding people. Despite us being kind of flat and not having an office and broadening, you know, where we hire from, it’s still hard to find good talent.
Matt Watson 10:41
How big is your team?
Beau Button 10:42
Right now? We have 29 employees, full-time employees.
Matt Watson 10:46
Okay, so on the engineering side, are you guys using Unity or something to build the game?
Beau Button 10:51
We are. Yeah, so the mobile game. My background is in enterprise dotnet. Not the most popular stack,
Matt Watson 10:58
but I need to bother me too. It’s all good.
Beau Button 11:01
I’m a C# guy through and through. Started off with BB ASP. When I was in high school and h2, it works for me. But yeah, when when we started looking at game engines.
Matt Watson 11:12
I won’t tell anybody you’re…
Beau Button 11:15
Too late, man. I’ve got a C#. I’m, I’m out of the closet when it comes to my affinity for C#. But yeah, I chose Unity because you use C #. I had no idea if it was better than Unreal. If like I did some due diligence. There were some other engines. But yes, we are a Unity game development shop and our back end stack. Everything is dotnet core C# all the way through and through.
Matt Watson 11:36
Awesome. Yeah, I’ve been doing dotnet since it came out 20 years ago, myself.
Beau Button 11:40
Yeah, no, I remember when it was ASP+. And I was like, why is there something new and then I saw and for better for worse web forms. It was an enterprise everybody jumped in. And when I realized how much less work in code I had to write, I was like, You know what? I’m done. Web Forms are great. And then you know, we did a 180. And here I am. Our web apps are MVC. And it seems like I’m still writing ASP style code.
Matt Watson 12:01
So what kind of scalability issues do you have? It’s just you get certainthousands of users and how it all connects to the back end? Yeah, back end issues connecting to the game that’s running on their, their app, or what are the challenges?
Beau Button 12:15
The game is it’s a real-time connection. So we leverage WebSockets. This was a first for me at this scale, I have built you know, real time, you know, finance apps, but it wasn’t anything like this, they weren’t event-based. So we have a lot of in game events, which is a concurrency issue. And when we built the platform, we what I should have done is follow kind of the stackexchange architecture, keep it stupid, simple, use SQL Server, cache the shit out of things and just roll with it. But I thought, I didn’t think I was trying to be more intelligent than I really am. And ultimately, I chose a technology from Microsoft called Orleans. And the reason I chose it because we decided to use Blob Storage as our storage mechanism. I’m going into the weeds here. But long story short, it was the wrong decision. And we ended up having to basically refactor the entire application to kind of look more like a standard web application and less less creative, you know, just, we were our own enemy here, just trying to be I tried to get ahead of the scale. In reality, what I ended up doing was preventing the scale wasn’t my intent. But we still leverage Orleans heavily. We just, I think the the expression is is everything looks like a nail when you have a hammer, and I thought Orleans was my hammer. And I went in there and the team just used Orleans for everything. And that was the wrong decision.
Matt Watson 13:34
Yeah, I’m a big fan of SQL database usually solves like, 90% of the process, what
Beau Button 13:39
We are now 100%, Microsoft Hyperscale SQL-based, and it has proven to be it’s incredible. I was doing this 20 years ago building, you know, line of business apps. And I just, I didn’t think that it was the right choice. But it was it was it was most definitely the right choice.
Matt Watson 13:56
Awesome. Well, eventually, you’ll get to some scale, you know, some scale where it makes sense to look at something else, you know, but that’s, that’s a future Beau problem. Not today.
Beau Button 14:07
But honestly, I hope it’s not a future Bo problem. I hope there’s somebody else that inherits that because I always joke I used to have a full head of hair, but I am completely bald, the stress the spirit, like it’s the cortisol rather, it’s taken a toll on me.
Matt Watson 14:20
Well, so tell me you are you’re one of the co-founders of this company, right? Yes. And so So tell me who are the other co founders tell me about them.
Beau Button 14:29
So technically, we started off with two co founders, my partner Sami. Sami is the younger brother of a high school friend of mine. He’s always had a knack for sales. He moved to Los Angeles. He was a very early employee at a fin tech company called Acorns. It’s a micro investment platform where they do round ups like your spirit chair to that. Yeah, so he was employee 10 or 11. He cut his teeth there, learning about user acquisition and marketing. We’ve kept in touch we had a previous startup, we had an anti social network called net memorandum that was ahead of its time. But yeah, he was the one that was he’s the gamer. He’s the one that really wanted to own and operate a game development company. But today, we also have, as of about two years ago, a third co founder, which was our employee, number one, but we two years ago, recognized that he is really a co founder, even though he’s in he was technically an employee. And now we consider him a third co-player, so it’s Sami Khan. And then Morgan Muna, my other two co founders.
Matt Watson 15:26
Okay. So you’re, you’re the CTO, but do you spend much of your time writing code these days? Are you says mostly hiring people?
Beau Button 15:34
Yeah, I mean, look, I’ve always been kind of like, the in between the tech and the biz, I can talk to anybody. Most of the developers I’ve worked with are kind of like black box developers or savant, they’re kind of socially awkward. Not all of them. I know. I’m stereotyping here. But yeah, here lately. I don’t do a lot of actual coding for the business. I do a lot of research and I’m still continuously learning. But I’d say 80% of my responsibility right now is really finding talent. I have a knack for that. It’s not something I love. I don’t dislike it. But it can be challenging. But yeah, I don’t contribute a whole lot of code, I tend to be the one who spearheads initiative, and then backs away and delegates like infrastructures code, we, you know, three years ago adopted TerraForm. That was something that really resonated with me, you know, using the Azure portal to create, you know, 200 resources for a new environmental, like, there’s gotta be a better way. And I wasn’t convinced it was Azure Resource Manager. But yeah, I don’t I don’t write as much code as I really would like to, but someday.
Matt Watson 16:39
Well, I asked these questions, because a lot of people are listening today. They’re like, I need to hire a CTO to go build my software. Well, a lot of CTOs don’t write a lot of code. And the thing I want to highlight here is, you know, did you early on when the company very, very first started?
Beau Button 16:57
Absolutely, yeah, absolutely. So when it was just the three of us, I was sort of the back end, Morgan was the front end. And that worked extremely well. And as we grew, obviously, I kind of started to slowly but surely back away and delegate, it wasn’t a trust thing. It was just I haven’t been doing this literally, I started when I was eight years old. It’s like, you can identify rabbit holes pretty quickly. So I would say the other responsibility I have is letting the team know that there’s a rabbit hole. And we should probably start, you know, do a 180 and go backwards. But no, I, I’d say it took us about three years before I kind of just stopped writing code in its entirety. There’s only a few areas of the business where I felt early on that I only trusted like anything to do with finance, like integrating with Iaps. For Apple and Google, I kind of owned the architecture and implementation for that because it touched money. But with the current app, we use Stripe, and we do I didn’t have to put my hands in the court, which is nice. It is nice.
Matt Watson 17:50
Well, I’m glad we’re discussing this, because I think it’s important for people to understand, you know, what does the CTO do? And how does the job change over time. And, you know, I love the fact that, you know, early on you started and then as time went on, the role has changed a lot. And I think the problem for a lot of entrepreneurs is they’re, they think hiring a CTO is like going to be the lead developer and run all the software and which can be the case. But if a company grows and scales, what they need from that person is actually totally different. They needed them to do what you’re doing today. And I think CTO should always be good at proof of concepts, making technology decisions, right, trying to kick the tires and figure things out. But also, something else I think you you alluded to about the rabbit holes is, is also asking the questions that nobody else asks or knows how to ask or will think of, and it just comes from doing this for long enough. You just see the rabbit holes, you know, I always refer to it as like, seeing the landmines and seeing around the corner. You know, like, people just don’t think that way. But you’ve done this long enough that you foresee these problems.
Beau Button 18:51
So no, it’s exactly right. And you know, my partner saw me he’s always kind of, I would say confused or amazed. It’s like, Well, why didn’t the team identify this? And I’m just like, it’s like a musician who’s been playing piano since they were three years old, versus somebody who graduated high school and decided to like, you still know how to play piano, but like you’re in tune, your intuition is just, it’s different. So yeah, I mean, I’m on Slack passively. And I’ll look at the engineering channels. And I’d say at least two or three times a week, I’m just like, no, bad idea. And I’m not wanting to just say no bad idea. Okay, I’ve done this before. This is why we probably shouldn’t do that. I honestly, that’s probably the most enjoyable part of this is, is helping, you know, the younger engineers kind of learn and, you know, get in tune with, like, finding these rabbit holes or mines, like you said.
Matt Watson 19:40
well, and I love I love the conversation about, you know, why didn’t they see this? Why didn’t they why don’t they have the ability to do this? And my response is usually well, if they did, they would be a CTO somewhere else. Yeah, no, that’s probably right. They probably wouldn’t. I would work for them.
Beau Button 19:56
As a cofounder, I’ve always been one like I want people to do well. And if that doesn’t, if it’s not with Atlas Reality that doesn’t, it won’t break my heart. So like if one of our employees graduates and becomes an exceptional potential CTO, there would be no hard feelings if he jumped ship and went and started his own venture. And that’s just a fact of life. So yeah, it’s, it’s confusing to my non-technical co-founder, but he gets it now, you know, not everybody’s, you know, their experience levels are very different. And you know, the way that they look at things, honestly, it’s sometimes it has to do with perspective, I’ve got some engineers that are very kind of like narrow, focused, and they just don’t look big picture. They do exceptional work, like, some things that are obvious to me because I’m kind of looking at it from, like, the entrepreneurial angle, business, big picture, long-term viability, they just don’t see it.
Matt Watson 20:43
Yeah, absolutely. This is different personalities. Well, finding experts, software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io, where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs. And then see what developers are available to join your team today. Visit FullFcale.io to learn more. Well, I love this part of the conversation about CTOs and and Dev leaders, because I think a lot of entrepreneurs don’t don’t understand the dynamics of some of this and the different personalities that go into it. And before we started recording, we were talking about LinkedIn and stuff. And I posted on LinkedIn every day. And I talked a lot about CTO-related stuff, leadership related stuff. And there’s such a huge difference from being an entrepreneur, being a CTO ,being very, very product-focused, like, business-focus versus being, like, a heads down engineer in the weeds. Like it’s just a totally different mindset. And a lot of people just don’t understand, they don’t understand the difference. And so I always try to cover those kinds of topics.
Beau Button 21:44
No, this is very valuable to anybody who has an idea who’s going to venture out and try to build a product, a technology-related product, like yes, I mean, you’re like you said earlier, your CTO may be your initial lead engineer, but that role will evolve and their responsibilities will inevitably change. Yeah, I’ve, you’re you’ve probably been subjected to this as an engineer, especially when like iOS was introduced. Everybody in their grandma wanted a mobile app, everybody in their grandma had a business idea. And I just, it was baffling. Like, I took a lot of things for granted. I was like, you just don’t know this. And it’s like, well, I’ve been doing this my entire life. You shouldn’t know this kind of stuff. But yeah, it’s it’s challenging because a lot of people, if they’re non-technical, they just feel like they’re going to hire somebody. And they’re going to solve all of their programming, their QA, their UI/UX. And I’m, like, in reality, the reason we have so many employees today is is you, there’s that many different like disciplines in order to build a quality product. You do initially, you can’t afford that. So you have to do what you have to do. You just got to, to hustle to get it out the door. And the quality will ultimately I guess, suffer to some degree. But yeah, we’re not hiring just for hiring sakes. But it is challenging. There are a lot of different disciplines that you need in order to build a good high-quality product.
Matt Watson 22:55
So I want to talk more about your game. And one thing that I’ve always thought was interesting about Metaverse related games, and how much money people would, you know, buy property for and discern Decentraland or Sandbox or some of these other popular web three games. And they’re like, well, real estate is limited. There’s so much there’s only so much real estate in the metaverse and as a software developer, you and I both know, there’s unlimited space in software games, right? Like, there is no limit to the amount of swag and teleport anywhere. What are you talking about? So what I love about your guys’s game is it’s based on Earth, right? Like you’re buying, you know, land in a physical place. And I like how it’s anchored that way. So then there is a limit like your limited planet, you’re able to do a planet,
Beau Button 23:44
And noxiously large pool of land because our prices are 30 by 30. But yeah, that was one of my biggest gripes about these, these virtual real estate platforms that weren’t tethered to the real Earth was someone can introduce a new map or a new island or whatever. It was literally up to the developers discretion to determine what your land was worth because it’s not a real scarcity problem if they could just introduce new land where it’s like right now, technically, we have a scarcity. The potential scarce it’s a real problem, but it’s not a problem. Right now. There’s not enough people. We have a little over three and a half million users. There’s like five or 8 billion available parcels if you include water and outside of that, but there’s a lot of land to be had here. Okay. Yeah, like you were saying the other games that are in this space also have a secondary market where you can flip right now we only have a primary market, we do not let players sell their land. That’s something that we we thought we had an idea when we originated the game concept, but having now been in practice or in business or having launch for 18 months, we’ve learned that we’ve got a we got a little homework to do in regards to making the secondary market useful for the players, not just for people who are whales who have a lot of disposable income. We’re genuinely committed to making that secondary market useful to the players who are grinding. And one of the ways that we’re doing that is we’re allowing them to build on their land and improve it. So, yeah, it’s, I was amazed that like, I think the article I read was Atari had built a Metaverse property. Snoop Dogg had bought a Metaverse property. And then somebody wanted to be his neighbor spent a million dollars on the land next door, and I’m just thinking, holy hell. Holy hell. Like how vain do you have to be to want to be Snoop Dogg’s neighbor in a video game? Like that? Doesn’t really I’m not that doesn’t I’m not. It’s crazy. It blows my mind.
Matt Watson 25:32
So, tell me if I go in and I get my 30 by 30 parcel. How, how do I, you mentioned I can earn money from rent? How else do I earn money in this game? You talked about going to Burger King and stuff like that. But yeah, so are there people that you said grind? Like they’re playing the game or whatever, like how do they earn money in the game, and others ways.
Beau Button 25:53
Will differentiate like so you can earn in game currency, but that in game currency is not convertible to cash. So when I say money, I’m talking checking account, I’m going to use this it’s it’s hard earned cash, you can only earn money right now, by collecting the rent that’s generated by the land. So the more land you own, the more virtual rent you accrue. And then the more money ultimately you can earn, there is a floor of $5. So it does take some time. You can earn in game currency by watching advertisements, you can earn in game currency by going to buy your Whoppers and so on and so forth. But one of the things that we’re focusing on kind of related to the secondary market is that user generated content these buildings, etc. So we’re trying to figure out kind of an Etsy model, how can we kind of create this community of people who are creating structures that could then become the architects of the metaverse and leverage them to build things in the game not only for themselves, other players or maybe even brands? So if we have a big brand partner, and they want to build it in the game, you could go and post kind of an RFP of sorts to our in-house Etsy. So right now, the only way to earn cash or real money is to own a lot of land.
Matt Watson 27:05
So do you have whales or big users that make hundreds or thousands of dollars a month doing this?
Beau Button 27:11
Oh, I wish it was hundreds of 1000s of dollars, right? Hundreds or 1000s? Or 1000s? Okay, sorry, I heard that wrong. I’m thinking No, no, no, no, we don’t have anybody making that much money. Even the top player in the game, who put in a lot of money. He is a YouTube celebrity who does kind of like card opening. His name is Openboosters, he dropped a lot of money when we launched the game. I don’t know off the top of my head, how much money he’s generating per month. But collectively, we’ve cashed out of out of our ecosystem, a little over a half a million dollars. Now that’s all players, that’s probably going to look more like a handful of people making $5 a month $10 a month, $15 a month versus a few people making a couple $1,000. So yes, it’s there aren’t any players right now, to the best of my knowledge that are making anywhere near, you know, $1,000 a month. We do have some players who have cashed out $100, but that’s been accumulated over the course of months.
Matt Watson 28:05
Okay, so is it? Is it somewhat easy for somebody to make $10 a month playing the game?
Beau Button 28:12
It’s not easy. No, it does require it. We have a high session count game. I mean, easy is a subjective? Does it require you to go outside and bust your ass and sweat? No, if and we have a lot of folks. And this was something that I kind of overlooked when we built this game that are really in a bind. You know, these are the same people using get upside buying gas from specific gas stations to make their 10% cashback on this. So most players that we see are doing, you know, they’re not just playing Atlas earth to make a few dollars. They’re doing this across coupons and other apps where they can make a few extra dollars. Yeah, there’s another dosh, et cetera, where you can make a few dollars per month. We’re committed and this is something that we’re still trying to figure out, we want people to be able to make a genuine passive income. There’s a lot of work there. We have a lot of work well cut.
Matt Watson 29:02
So I mean, the reason I asked and maybe you know this. I would assume you probably know this, but there’s like your games like Axie Infinity and stuff like that, where you had like a million people, I’m not even exaggerating a million people, like, in the Philippines that played it every day. And they they played it to make an income and, you know, in a place like the Philippines, even if he only made $20 a month or $50 a month, like, it was a super significant amount of money to them. Where you know, the average person only makes two or $300 a month. So there there are some countries where this play-to-earn type games are massive, especially if they can make just a small amount of passive income from it.
Beau Button 29:44
Yeah, there’s a part of that business model specifically with the game that you just mentioned x infinity that makes me sick. It’s you know, they were taking advantage. They had scholarships. I I dove rather like headfirst. I wanted to understand how this game Yeah, and it kind of imploded in, I kind of saw the writing on the wall. Yeah. But right now, we are only launched in the United States. So I’m talking about Americans. They’re the ones in this game. They’re the ones making the 10 to $15 a month. And there are a lot of those players who are very interested in playing a virtual real estate game watching ads. One thing I kind of overlooked, you can watch ads to earn Atlas bucks, but you can also watch ads to generate additional rent per second. So the most straightforward way to describe this, and the disclaimer here being this is how it works. This is how the sausage is made. It’s a revenue sharing opportunity for our players. We’re just a standard company who decided to take some of their profits. And what we do with that is very unique. So instead of just taking those profits and giving a percentage back to the players, we manage our own treasury. So if I were to talk about this very candidly, again, disclaimer here is this is a game, it’s not an investment. It’s a facade for an investment platform, you give us money, we take that money, we grow that money, we share back some of the gains with you. We can’t articulate it that way. Because we’re not an investment company. We’re a gaming company. At some point in the future. I’d love to actually be licensed and do everything aboveboard with the SEC and say, Look, this is nothing more than RobinHood. But instead of picking a ticker, buy some land, it doesn’t really matter. You just know you have some money that you want to invest in. You want to grow. Let us grow it for you. This is just a game in front of it.
Beau Button 30:06
Okay. Very cool. Well, the so when you buy land in the game, can you only buy land the United States,
Beau Button 31:34
Right now you can only buy land in the United States. The next country we’ll be rolling out to is Canada. And then shortly thereafter, Australia, and New Zealand. You can play the game and watch ads and increase your RPS globally. But we only allow you to buy land right now in the United States.
Matt Watson 31:50
I’m trying to figure out if I can buy, like, the whole country here.
Beau Button 31:53
There’s no option right now. You have to buy it one by one. They’re having you equal.
Matt Watson 31:58
If you were going for the Vatican City, though it’s not very much land like
Beau Button 32:02
Yeah. If you’re ever in downtown, or the the Las Vegas Strip area, or downtown Los Angeles, you can install the game and uninstall it after you see it. There’s probably 5000 individual landowners that own the New York or the Las Vegas Strip. There are some like the president, I don’t know he travels a lot. But he like went to Disney World and bought he must have just walked very slowly and bought one by one and one by one. And he basically decimated Disney World and Cal in Florida rather. But there’s no bulk land purchasing right now. It is something that I mean, obviously, there are whales but there’s also the argument that it creates kind of a disadvantage. The players who are out there grind and want to buy one parcel, we’ll figure it out. We were obviously a for profit business, we have to make sure that this thing is viable, long term. So we’ll see.
Matt Watson 32:50
Well, one day I’ll maybe I can buy the Vatican City on the secondary market, then.
Beau Button 32:55
Yeah, well, that’s secondary markets where this is going to become really interesting because it won’t just be land, it will be land and improvements. And we have to do that for legal reasons, because this is not an investment. And you have to do something to the the initial purchase in order to actually sell it and not be deemed an investment. So we’re allowing people to build on it. Lord knows what players are going to build. I have no doubt that there’s some very creative people out there that are going to use our tooling to build some impressive structures. And I’m looking forward to having a castle in cedar park, Texas, which is technically where I live right outside of Austin. But yeah, I mean, I’d love to see somebody own the Vatican City and build the Vatican in 3D in Atlas Earth.
Matt Watson 33:36
So I’m gonna guess that you guys have more users than Meta has on Horizon World.
Beau Button 33:45
I don’t know how many they have we have. Yeah, right now they like daily actives. I’m sure it’s very low. Meta get a Meta gets a lot of hate, but I don’t think it’s it’s completely justified. I’m a fan of what they’re doing with their hardware. I do think Zuckerberg is a bit disillusioned. I don’t know why they did some things that they did. I can say that we have way more users than all of the other Metaverse virtual real estate platforms, DAU, and MAU, and revenue combined.
Matt Watson 34:17
That’s that’s, that’s amazing. Congrats to you.
Beau Button 34:20
Yeah, no, that’s that’s the metric that I’m most proud of. Because yeah, we we’re not in the news, right? And we we’ve went, we’ve worked with PR agencies, and I was, like, Look until someone wants to write about us. Let’s just not worry about it. But, like, all of these other platforms are spending a tremendous amount of money to get these articles out, like, we spent, or we’ve sold 200,000 parcels and I’m, like, did you make any money? Is anybody making any money? Like, yeah, I mean, you can sell 2000 or 200,000 pixels, and you can push that down out to PR Newswire, but yeah, we were proud of that metric.
Matt Watson 34:52
I just love that. Zuckerberg spent billions of dollars on his Metaverse and nobody uses it. And here you are.
Beau Button 34:59
And then honestly I remember when Second Life was launched. This is a it’s, I was blown away as. And this was before I was even in the gaming industry, I never really understood how games were built. And quite honestly, I don’t play video games a whole lot. But it just seemed baffling that they spent that much time that much money. And they built something that was inferior to something that was built 12 or I keep saying 10 years, but I’ve been saying 10 years ago for 10 years. I don’t know how old Second Life is, but it’s been around for a very long time.
Matt Watson 35:30
Well, and do you see your app, becoming sort of like that, or like SimCity like that those sorts of games.
Beau Button 35:36
There’s some synergies. I think we will ultimately have a multi-user experience where people who own land can invite players to their actual structures, and maybe we introduce some type of extensibility where you can build you know, primitive games, kind of like a hybrid between Rec Room, Roblox, etc. That’s not our focus right now, quite honestly. But I do think that’s in the cards, but I don’t think we our goal is not to compete with Roblox or Second Life or new horizons. Like that’s not our goal right now.
Matt Watson 36:08
But when I when I use your game, can I go walk around and talk to other people and do that kind of stuff?
Beau Button 36:13
Right now you cannot communicate in game, you can walk around. And previously, you could see other players, that was actually a developer feature that bled into a production build, and it was a purple or magenta cube, which is the texture, the default texture for a Unity game object. And nobody knew what the hell those little magenta pills were, but it was not supposed to be actually released. But right now, no, there’s really no in-game social features. That is something that we are working on. It’s Pandora’s box. We did partner with a company called Two Hat who has text and voice moderation tools. That was our biggest concern is just toxicity. I see it in Discord. It’s like, oh, my god, man, it’s nuts. But right now, no, you can’t interact with other players in the game.
Matt Watson 36:57
Okay. Well, if you do need to hire software engineers, testers or leaders Full Scale can help. We have the people in the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. When you visit FullScale.io, all I need to do is answer a few questions and let our platform match up with our fully vetted, highly experienced team of software engineers, testers, or leaders. At Full Scale who specializes in building a software team that works only for you long-term, learn more when you visit FullScale.io. Well, I’ve really enjoyed this conversation, Beau. And you know, when I was younger, I always used to say my dream as a developer, was to build something that I could walk around. And like, I always thought that would be cool. And you have done that. And so I think that’s really cool. You know, you can build it, you can build an app or game and you can walk around in it, which I think is super, super awesome. Do you guys, your app now is a mobile app, it’s on Android and Apple, right? Do you have plans to maybe make like a VR-version of it as well?
Beau Button 37:52
Not for the core app. So internally, we refer to the mobile app as the scouting app because it requires GPS. And that’s where you’re out and about scouting, where you’re going to buy land. We’re working on our internal tooling that we currently called the Editor, which is going to be the experience that players this is a web-based experience. We’ve learned that we should bring as much functionality to the web as possible for a multitude of reasons. A dev x developer experience is superior. And b, Apple and Google don’t take 30% stripe to 3%. But the tooling right now is web-based. And we’re not focusing a lot of energy on mixed reality. But you better believe that experience is something that’s on the roadmap for me. I want to put on an Oculus Quest or whatever the hell the PICO whatever you choose. And I want to be able to build buildings with just very organic natural my hands quite frankly, I want it to be like a Lego like experience. But no, the the primary game where you buy land, there are no plans for XR, VR, etc. But for the Editor. Absolutely.
Matt Watson 38:57
And currently in your app to buy land, you have to actually physically be on that land. That’s a buy it right.
Beau Button 39:03
Matt Watson 39:04
So nobody should have bought my house by now. So I should be able to do that.
Beau Button 39:07
Well, when we launched, we didn’t have anti-spoofing, which it was a cost-prohibitive solution to license and we said you know what, we’ll just let people spoof if they spoof we’ll, you know, players will report them. We now prevent spoofing. We partner with a company called Shield.com. And we’ve we’ve nailed that, but you might be surprised. I’m often surprised. I’ll be in like obscure areas of Mississippi visiting family and I’ll open the app and I’m, like, who in the hell is out here buying double wides? I’m not gonna lie. There are a lot of double wides that somebody is is way ahead of their Mississippi times and they’re planning for the southern Metaverse revolution.
Matt Watson 39:47
Awesome. Well as as we wrap up the show today. I really really appreciate you for being on the show. Again, this was Beau Button with Atlas Realty, Reality, sorry. And your guys’s website is AtlasReality.com. And you can find your apps and the App Store. So definitely check them out. So as we wrap up the show, I always ask if you have any any final suggestions or tips for other entrepreneurs out there.
Beau Button 40:16
The only tip and this is not unique to entrepreneurialism i,s like, I don’t know why, like, genetically, I don’t know where my ancestors came from. And it’s not everybody in my family, I do not give up, I do not throw in the towel. Until I have closure, it doesn’t matter if it’s a technical problem or business problem. I just, I just, I need closure, I need to finish. So, just, just don’t give up. Don’t give up. Just muscle through it even if it’s difficult, you know, it can be a challenge. Trust me, this is not my first startup. And not all of them have been successful. I mean, that’s kind of where you learn a lot, but just don’t give up. Just just muscle through it.
Matt Watson 40:55
You know, similar to that I’ve seen people multiple times post about, there’s a difference between playing to win and playing not to lose. And you know, if you have the mindset of I’m not going to lose, it’s almost impossible for your competitors to be you, right? where we’re if you’re all in and you’re trying to win, you may make a lot of mistakes. And you know, ultimately you do win, but you play the long game and you’re like, you know what, I’m not going to lose, I’m going to set myself up. So it’s like impossible for me to ever fail. You can do this forever, right? It’s a different mindset.
Beau Button 41:28
Yeah, absolutely. I like how you articulated that. That’s I’ve never heard it put that way but no, absolutely man.
Matt Watson 41:34
It’s a different a different mindset similar to what you’re talking about, you know, it’s, like, just never giving up and, like, we’re gonna win this thing. And, you know, you just have to have to keep going and keep, keep fighting.
Beau Button 41:46
Yeah, there are days where you’re, like, I don’t know how we’re gonna get through this. But obviously having great partners, great employees, great culture, all of that. Like, I we stand, I stand on the shoulder of giants. And I’m not talking about previous successful entrepreneurs. I’m talking about hard working employees that can do a lot of work. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.
Matt Watson 42:05
Awesome. Well, Beau, thank you so much for being on the show today.
Beau Button 42:07
Thank you, Matt. You have a great day, brother.
Matt Watson 42:09
All right. Take care.