How do you explain what you do for a living to someone who doesn’t know you?
This may come as a surprise to you, but despite plenty of opportunities to practice, I still don’t have a perfect answer to this question.
And the imperfect answer?
I’m Toan, I’m a full-time partner at Jung von Matt Group and founder and CEO of a company called Jung von Matt NERD. We deal with gaming, fantasy, science fiction, Japanese pop culture like anime and manga, Web3, blockchain and the metaverse on a daily basis. For us, this is the new pop culture of a new generation. In the past, people’s idols might have been musicians or movie stars or athletes; today, it’s just as likely to be a fictional character from the world of gaming, for example.
How did you become who you are?
That’s a good question. And I can think of two ways to answer it. The first is: Maybe I’ve always been this way. To this day, my parents – and especially my father – laugh themselves silly about my job, because my office still looks pretty much like my bedroom at home when I was a teenager – even if the things standing around here are a bit more expensive and everything is a bit tidier. On the other hand, as is so often the case in a career, it’s a mix of coin-cidences, extremely good luck, and perhaps a bit of courage. I’ve been with Jung von Matt for thirteen or fourteen years now, and to be honest, I don’t really care what exactly the answer is.
And how did you come up with the idea of nerds and subcultures?
While working in sports marketing, I came across the field of e-sports – gaming as a profession, so to speak. I found that something was emerging here, in a niche, something that perhaps not everyone could understand and explain but that is on its way to becoming in-credibly huge. That’s how I went from e-sports to the topic of gaming. I then tried to understand how these quote--unquote “subcultures” relate to each other, how gaming relates to fantasy, to science fiction, to superheroes, to manga/anime culture. The funny thing is that I commissioned Nerd to do a statistical regression analysis, a study, and spent €48,000 on it.