HEC Paris EMBA Speaker Series: Microsoft’s Mike Pell on the Metaverse

On Monday, HEC Paris EMBA participants were treated to an exclusive lecture from Mike Pell, co-inventor of Adobe Acrobat and the PDF as he discussed the next wave in tech: the Metaverse.

“There’s nothing inherently new about the Metaverse– but it does signal the arrival of 3D for the mainstream.”

Mike Pell, who helms the Microsoft Garage NYC, has been there, done that, when it comes to software. He’s been designing and coding since the dawn of the original Apple Macintosh in 1984. Among his calling cards are developing the stylized Font menu that brought font choices to word processing software, and helping to quickly invent Adobe Acrobat and PDF in the early 1990’s, along with a litany of other industry-defining accomplishments.

In an exclusive Zoom lecture for HEC EMBA participants organized by participant Tejashree Bhatia, he tackled the next all-enveloping wave in tech: the metaverse.

“I had attended a session by Mike Pell during my shift major,” Tejashree explains.

“The topic was ‘Work Futures, Today.’ It was based on the best practices and future trends in The Age of Smart Information (the topic of Pell’s latest book). Part of his session was based on the Metaverse—my cohort is super invested in this topic. I was very impressed. I thought that it would be helpful if we could benefit from a talk about that topic and its future, as well as The Microsoft Garage innovation program. I contacted him on LinkedIn, and he gracefully accepted the invitation for the guest session at HEC Paris.”

An exclusive inside look

Roughly 100 EMBA participants from current tracks were treated to a Metaverse Masterclass by the industry titan.

Pell’s talk ran the gamut of the greater Metaverse, from demystifying and contextualizing NFTs, explaining what the Metaverse is—and what it is not—to making nuanced arguments for the relevancy of Data Storytelling. His talk was, in short, a microcosm of what he’s done his whole career: breaking down complex, seemingly impregnable topics and a thicket of buzzwords into bite-sized morsels.

“There’s a lot of fear [associated with the Metaverse]. A lot of hand-wringing,” he said. “This is a new era of computing, but people shouldn’t be so worried that the world is turning inside out. It’s really not. The Metaverse is no different than to the web to me: it’s a set of interconnected people, objects, organizations, and conversations.”

Commenting on the Metaverse

The holder of several US Patents linked to his work with Microsoft, Pell is uniquely positioned to comment on the coming tide. Apt then, that he sees a parallel requirement in the Metaverse as he did in the days when he was bringing Adobe Acrobat to life.

“Interoperability will be key to an open Metaverse, just like when we invented Adobe Acrobat and PDF to make the interchange of stylized documents across disparate platforms possible at all.”

Pell stressed the importance of the human touch— “it’s never ever about the technology, it’s always about the people”—and enabling new ways for people to express their individuality will be central to the Metaverse flowering to its full potential.

“In the Metaverse, we have an opportunity for all people, from anywhere on the planet, with any type of background, to express their desired individuality more than they ever thought possible. What could be more exciting than that?”

More CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies have graduated from HEC Paris than any other university in Europe. Nearly 4,000 graduates are currently CEOs, CFOs, or have founded their own companies. According to the Financial Times, the HEC Paris offers the best EMBA program in the world; click here to learn more.

To get the latest news and information about the HEC Paris Executive MBA delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter.

If you’re ready to take the next step in your EMBA journey, introduce yourself