There's a new arena in which startups and entrepreneurs can seize an advantage over big tech: the metaverse.

That's according to LinkedIn senior editor at large Jessi Hempel. For the uninitiated, the metaverse is "the 3-D immersive and collaborative experiences that are already making their way into our lives," as Hempel describes it. Think: Facebook's Oculus, HTC Vive--any pixelated world in which we interact with avatars.

Writing about the metaverse within LinkedIn's list of 29 big ideas that CEOs, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders believe will change the world in the next year, Hempel predicted that smaller companies and solo artists will seize sections of this new virtual reality world for themselves.

Here's more from her forecast:

  • Hempel describes a "metaverse land grab" that is already afoot. Companies are rushing to roll out metaverse platforms, which, of course, include virtual reality experiences like Meta's that transport users to entirely new worlds. But they also include augmented reality experiences like Pokémon Go, as well as the highly complex worlds within video games.
  • Big technology companies will attempt to carve out as much control over this new landscape as possible. Just look at Mark Zuckerberg's newfound obsession with the metaverse and Facebook's recent rebranding to Meta. Microsoft also recently announced its own foray into the metaverse, teasing a new Teams product in which users can interact with each other using avatars.
  • But despite big tech's best efforts, smaller players will have a huge role to play within the metaverse, according to Hempel. This is because the metaverse will be difficult to wall off--thanks in large part to blockchain. Hempel says that blockchain "will allow metaverse participants to build and use decentralized technology, rather than rely on big tech players alone." This will mean ample opportunities for startups and creatives within this wild new digital world.