Top Meta Executive Explains Why Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse Vision Is Faced The Test Of A Lifetime

The meta has had a tough year.

In 2022, the company saw its stock price plunge to historic lows, laid off 11,000 employees, and faced intense skepticism from impatient investors about the viability of its futuristic metaverse vision. But that doesn’t convince the tech giants to change their plans.

In a note to Meta staff also posted on social media, CTO Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, one of Meta’s chief executives, said Monday that the company is facing a difficult time. I looked back on Build new AR/VR technologies, including those that power the Metaverse, a series of immersive 3D virtual worlds where people can interact, work, and play using their own digital avatars.

Bosworth wrote, “I didn’t expect it to be easy and easy, but this year has been harder than I expected.” “The economic challenges around the world, combined with the pressure on Meta’s core business, have created a perfect storm of skepticism about the investments we are making. It’s time to try it out.”

Bosworth’s memo explains why employees (and the public) should believe in the company’s $10 billion annual investment in developing new technologies such as AR/VR, eye-tracking, and graphics processing.

“This post is my attempt to set the record straight,” Bosworth said in an interview with Recode last week as Meta spends a lot of money on new technology that hasn’t yet taken off on the same scale as social media. told critics who thought “There is a really bad misconception about this business and the fact that 80% of the investments we make are in our core business. Wouldn’t it make sense to invest a few percent, or even 20 percent, in

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg sees the metaverse as the next iteration of the Internet, a technological change similar to mobile phones. But even in Zuckerberg’s best-case scenario, achieving that vision will take time — as much as a decade, according to his estimates. Meanwhile, some investors are cautious. One of his most recent, in a recent open letter, called Meta’s continued spending “terrifying” and urged the company to cut back.

In his memo, Boz argued against metacaving against this type of market pressure.

“In good times, it’s easy to make big, ambitious investments in what’s coming next. , stick to the safest and most profitable ones today and squeeze as much out of them as possible.

“This kind of short-term thinking has disastrous consequences,” the executive argued, adding, “We gave up on innovation long ago and are content to crank the existing business until it fails.” It will hollow out the enterprise.”

Bosworth’s comments come at a time when Silicon Valley was waiting for a big breakthrough. The current tech giant, either Apple, Google, or Meta, has unveiled technology as revolutionary as early products such as mobile phones, online search engines, personal computers, or social media his platforms like Facebook. Many years have passed since then. Over the past year and a half, Meta has established itself as a potential leader in its field.

And with Apple and other big tech companies investing in AR/VR technology, Zuckerberg is in a unique position. He is also the founder of the company and the only CEO of a major tech company to control the board and avoid being fired. He’s also released several iterations of the AR/VR headset before Apple launched his one in the space, giving Meta a head start in development. .

But Meta needs to grow its core business of selling ads on social media to keep it profitable. The company is still recovering from a major blow to its advertising business after Apple limited Meta’s ad targeting capabilities by introducing its App Tracking Transparency tool to the iPhone. This year, Facebook also reported its first drop in global users in the final quarter of 2021 as it faces increasing competition from TikTok. It’s a signal that the platform is becoming irrelevant, especially with younger users and developed countries like the US. He pointed out that Facebook engagement is up in the third quarter of 2022, with WhatsApp, owned by Meta, growing the most in North America compared to other regions.

Bosworth also provided some insight into what Meta plans to focus on in its AR/VR efforts going forward.

Earlier this year, Meta released a $1,500 “mixed reality” headset called the Quest Pro. Mixed reality means that instead of being fully immersed in a virtual environment, you can see the virtual reality projected around you. Quest Pro is marketed to enterprise customers such as architects, fashion designers, and other professionals who use 3D modeling in their work.

Meta’s older, more affordable virtual reality Quest 2 headset is a hit with regular consumers (they’re the leading VR headset in the consumer market). For comparison, Meta has sold an estimated 14.8 million Quest 2 headsets since launch, according to analyst firm IDC, while Facebook has nearly 3 billion monthly active users.

The main reason is that VR products are bulky and difficult to wear on your face for more than a few hours at a time. And while it’s fun for games and virtual hangouts, it’s not as essential technology as a laptop or phone.

Meta hopes that eventually more people will use AR/VR products as they become lighter and more technically sophisticated.

“It won’t be long before VR headsets can emulate powerful home computer setups from devices that fit in a backpack and can be used anywhere,” Bosworth writes.

Meta’s ambitions for AR/VR are bold, but sometimes they struggle to sell some of their vision to the public, not even to some of their employees. As The Verge reported in October, Meta’s flagship metaverse social platform, Horizon Worlds, was underused by its own employees because it was too buggy. Virtual reality giant John Carmack, who was his consultant at Meta’s VR executive, left the company on Friday, saying in his now-public farewell note that he believed in the potential of Meta’s VR product. said it questioned the company’s efficiency. build them. Outside of the VR world, many social media commentators have criticized Meta’s appearance of virtual avatars in his AR/VR offerings. I demoed an updated avatar a week later).

Bosworth told Recode that people appreciate the value of Meta’s Metaverse product while watching flattened 2D screenshots on their TV, rather than getting the full experience without wearing a VR headset. He said the company had a “real problem” with getting people to understand. mobile phone or computer. His team is working on improving technical systems to make the avatar more “robust,” he said.

Ultimately, though, Avatar is just a small part of how Meta spends its $10 billion annual budget on futuristic technologies that make up its “Reality Labs” division. Bosworth says the company has invested about half of his Reality Labs budget into his AR, including developing new hardware for his device, for example. According to Bosworth, Meta wants to prove its critics wrong by making products that people actually use.

“The way this becomes a more ubiquitous device makes it more valuable to more people,” he said. “And that’s what we’re trying to do.”

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