Venture Stories

The Future of Work: Decentralized Human Networks

03/24/2023

An interview with MetaJob founder Naohiro Hoshino about his inspiration and experiments creating a more human-centered future of work.

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Hi there! Can you start by telling us about MetaJob?

Naohiro Hoshino (N.H.): Of course! MetaJob is a job-matching platform that aims to create an even-level playing field for all people in a work environment. Various groups – particularly people from less privileged socio-economic backgrounds, stay-at-home mothers, and hikkikomori (people who rarely leave their homes) – struggle to compete in the traditional job marketplace. At the same time, there is a labor shortage in Japan that is only getting worse as the population continues to age. Our vision has always been the same: to level out the playing field and help people find meaningful, rewarding work, while also helping businesses find the quality employees they need to thrive.

 

What inspired you to start building this venture?

N.H. I grew up on the east side of Tokyo, where the ratio of self-employed people is very high. As a kid, I couldn’t even imagine going to university. Most people I knew worked in scrappy, family-owned businesses. In a country like Japan which traditionally values formal education, this can be a significant disadvantage. But the truth is, these people have the same capability as others, but less opportunity to show it. These days, technology is changing things, and rapidly. YouTubers have disrupted and democratized popular entertainment and people are increasingly making a living by directly buying and selling to others online. I see it as a dramatic and positive shift in the nature of work itself, and something I want to be a part of!

 

Can you tell us more about how MetaJob works?

N.H. MetaJob is a multi-sided platform that matches virtual workers with businesses that have online customer-facing operations. We need to consider all three key stakeholders and their needs: the workers who wish to work virtually, the businesses who need workers they can trust, and the end-users who want  quality service. We balance these needs and provide a frictionless, human-centered platform to facilitate the exchange of value between all users.

 

How has MetaJob evolved over time?

N.H. Although my vision has stayed the same, our approach has evolved. At first, we worked on solving for the first group: people who want to work, but struggle to do so in the so-called “real world.” We aimed to help them by providing a virtual working environment and identity through the use of 3D avatars. This was very effective and we saw positive results from the worker side, but we also discovered that businesses and end-users do not always trust avatar-only workers.

In our second phase of development, we shifted focus to the business side and found that the core issue is a lack of social credit. In short, how can we ensure the quality of virtual workers and create a trusted network? With this in mind, we began developing a system to evaluate virtual worker quality, which led to a huge increase in both trust and engagement. A system as such must be designed with great care; it should be autonomous, transparent, decentralized, and not controlled by an authority like a company or government. Currently, MetaJob has thousands of worker accounts and we make hundreds of job matches per month. Our active users are primarily stay-at-home mothers, minorities, and people with unstable jobs (Hiseiki Shain).

 

What is next for MetaJob?

N.H. Our greatest challenge right now is to raise the volume of job opportunities that we are providing and focus on the satisfaction of end-users. This is a common problem for growing ventures. How do we move from linear to exponential growth? But we have a plan!

We want to pioneer a new kind of C2C+B market, what we are calling “life-sharing,” or an “experience-and-earn” model. During MetaJob’s growth, we came across the fascinating insight that everyone's an expert on something. For example, I lived in France for some years, and I like driving. As a result, I became an expert on scenic driving routes not only around Paris, but also Western Europe. So if you ever want any advice or recommendations about driving in France and Western Europe, let me know!

We want to help our MetaJob users by giving them a platform to provide insight to others in a shared network, sharing life experiences and expert knowledge about whatever the subject may be, and earn money doing so. One of our MetaJob workers, for example, has visited every single onsen hot spring on the Izu Peninsula of Japan. By sharing their life experiences and knowledge, others on the platform interested in traveling to that area can benefit. By building out this functionality, we will dramatically expand the value that MetaJob provides by sharing value amongst the end-users themselves. And we hope that one day, end-users can earn a living this way.

Our vision is to continue to expand the platform and provide more opportunities for virtual workers to find meaningful, rewarding work, while also helping businesses find the quality employees they need to thrive. We also want to focus on the satisfaction of end-users and create a platform that provides real value to them.

In the short term, we are working on building out the C2C+B model and we believe this will be a major growth area for the platform. We also want to continue to refine our scoring system and make it as objective and reliable as possible.

 

How do you imagine the future of work?

N.H.: We believe that the future of work will be more decentralized, human-centered, hybrid, and flexible than it has ever been in the past. Technology is making it easier to work remotely and more people are seeking a better balance between work and personal life. More and more people, especially here in Japan, are seeking options to be self-employed, at least partially. It has never been easier to start your own business providing value to others in a direct, peer-to-peer relationship than now. MetaJob is helping to make this shift possible.

In the long term, we see MetaJob as part of a larger movement towards a more dynamic and equitable work environment. We want to help people find work that fits their lives rather than the other way around, and create a world where anyone can earn a decent living by sharing their valuable life experiences with others, regardless of their background or situation. We believe that this is the future of work and we are excited to be a part of it!

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