Meta’s CTO Tells Me They Haven’t Walked Away from the Metaverse. Here’s Why I’m Not Persuaded.

Late last night, shortly after Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg insisted that the company had not moved away from the Metaverse, I got a similar message via Meta’s CTO Andrew Bosworth on Twitter.  Who took umbrage with me noting that his December 2022 vision statement did not mention “the Metaverse” even once:

Read the actual document my guy. One doesn’t have to use a specific word for something to be about a thing. Come on. Lol.

To which I pointed out that his vision statement is also scant on discussing core metaverse concepts — only mentioning Meta’s virtual world and avatars once in a document nearly 2000 words long. And then saying that Meta’s XR technology has “longer-term possibilities unlocked by eye and face tracking technology [that] go far beyond avatars.”

I also compared it to Zuckerberg’s 2021 statement on Meta’s XR vision, in which he mentions “the Metaverse” a dozen times.

Well, thirteen if you include the talk’s actual title: “Our vision for the metaverse“.

But really, the recent dearth in metaverse mentions by Meta is only one sign the company has collectively moved away from making the Metaverse. Here’s several more:

Its metaverse platform Horizon Worlds has few major recent updates and low user growth.

While at the same time (as John Carmack mentioned shortly before leaving the company), competing metaverse platforms Rec Room and VRChat are far more popular with Meta Quest users.

Meta’s own staff is not confident leadership can build the Metaverseor even explain what it is:

According to a survey conducted last month [December 2022] by Blind, the popular anonymous messaging app for company staff, confidence in the Metaverse and Meta’s efforts dropped sharply last year. That’s compared to a November 2021 Blind survey where the very same questions were asked.  

To the statement, “I believe Meta will successfully build the metaverse” (above), only 50% of employees answered yes. In November 2021, 77% of staff answered in the affirmative… 56% say their own CEO has not explained [the Metaverse] clearly.

I’ve consistently gotten reports of shifting priorities and lack of internal focus around its metaverse efforts. 

I hesitate to also say, “read my book” at this point, but, well: Read my book. I tried over several months to interview Bosworth and Zuckerberg for it, but I’m but one wee writer, so I’m sure they had higher priorities.  (Fortunately other people associated with Meta had more than enough time to chat.)

Then again, it’s a bit odd that Boz is now taking the time tweeting at me about the Metaverse when we could have talked about it for the book. But ultimately the best way for Meta to demonstrate it still wants to build the Metaverse is by, you know, actually doing it.

My guy. 

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