A new buzzword has taken over the tech world’s vocabulary: Web3. Though this newer version of the Internet does not exist yet and the technology is still being built, Europe is actively trying to embrace it.
It comes as no surprise then that the City of Lights is trying to boost Web3 champions on the continent. French startup studio PyratzLabs is opening its doors in Paris with the aim of helping Web3 startups to scale up.
The idea of a decentralised Internet has been in the works for the last decade with the explosion of cryptocurrencies and blockchain, and there are arguably some early Web3 applications that already exist.
Big tech companies are already betting big on it and are even assembling Web3 teams; an infrastructure race is on and countries do not want to be left out.
What is Web3?
Web3 is defined by the technology of blockchain, the same system used by cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) but aims to use an egalitarian philosophy to cut out the Internet’s central gatekeepers, such as Google and Facebook.
The easiest way to think of it is to go back to the first version of the Internet, or the World Wide Web, created in 1989 when few people knew how to publish information online themselves.
Around 10 years later, Web2.0 came along when companies like Google and Facebook granted access to tools that let us publish content ourselves in exchange for our data.
In theory, Web3 will be a combination of the two earlier versions of the Internet but will take the power away from the tech giants and corporations and put it back into the user’s hands.
Blockchain will be the driving force behind it, and one of its core features will be the metaverse, cryptocurrencies and decentralised finance (DeFi).
Europe’s Web3 future
European governments have already highlighted the importance of building their own Web3 ecosystems. French president Emmanuel Macron, for instance, has said he wants Europe to have its own metaverse.
Although France is one of Europe’s champions when it comes to start-ups and tech companies, the country lacks support structures and physical workspaces for Web3 entrepreneurs, argues Bilal El Alamy, chief and co-founder of PyratzLabs.
He and two of the other company’s founders spoke amongst themselves about the evolution of blockchain and noted that while they France already had champions such as Ledger and Sorare, the sector needed help.
PyratzLabs will open its 1000m2 offices; dedicated to Web3 entrepreneurs, the massive space allows start-ups to meet and receive coaching from entrepreneurship and technology experts.
“PyratzLabs' mission is simple: guiding and facilitating. Web3 allows for new consumption methods that are currently blooming, especially in Paris which might become the European capital,” El Alamy told Euronews Next.
So far, half a dozen start-ups have joined and there is a keen interest from others.
“I'm receiving so many resumes of graduates lately that it kind of shows that there is this momentum and this new generation wants to jump in,” said El Alamy.
“The physical venue enlivens the ecosystem. We haven't seen that. Well, there's no place like that in Paris”.
PyratzLabs is focusing on welcoming actors from the gaming and DeFi industries in order to build and finance the ecosystem, having raised €3 million from blue-chip investors to launch the project.
The appetite from investors in Web3 is high, says El Alamy, which gives him hope for Europe’s Web3 future.
He is also optimistic that France can challenge the tech heavyweights of the United States with its talent.
“We have like tremendous talent and interest and even though the companies are structured abroad, most of them like The Sandbox have been developed by French graduates from French schools,” El Alamy said.
‘We have a lot of talent and there's definitely also a recognition on the investor side”.
But Europe has a mammoth task ahead if it wants to compete with the US.
Many of tech leaders of the Web2 world have left to work for American Web3 companies.
Google’s former vice president Surojit Chatterjee is now Coinbase’s chief product officer, Amazon’s Pravjit Tiwana left AWS Edge Services to become the chief technology officer at Gemini, and the former head of gaming at YouTube Ryan Wyatt is now the CEO of Polygon Studios.
But due to more regulation on Web3 companies in Europe than in the US, El Almy believes the bloc has another advantage.
“In Europe, we have a pretty good regulated environment now, and I think we can build the champions of tomorrow with the right in the right ecosystems from day one,” he said.