Zuckerberg is turning trillion-dollar Facebook into a ‘metaverse’ company, tells investors – TechCrunch

“I wanted to discuss this now so that you can see the future that we are working on and how our main initiative in the company is going to align with that,” Zuckerberg said on the call. “What is the metaverse? It is a virtual environment where you can be present with people in digital spaces. You can think of this as a built-in internet that you are in rather than just watching. “

These comments echoed an interview he gave to The edge last week, detailing some of the future goals of the company.

The metaverse offers Facebook the opportunity to draw a line between its moon-shooting efforts and its core business, building a wide-ranging hub that shines on augmented reality and virtual reality platforms, but feels just as device-friendly. mobile as well as desktop computers. Zuckerberg’s definition of a metaverse is broader than some others, but it boils down to creating a version of the web that looks more like an MMO than a collection of web pages.

Facebook Horizon World Builder

First versions of the Horizon Facebook platform. Image via Facebook.

It’s hard to imagine now, but Facebook was late for mobile. A decade ago, Facebook apps were crash and crash-prone HTML5 experiences, even as fluent native mobile apps were fast becoming the standard for major software vendors. In 2012, Zuckerberg realized that apps were the future, quickly becoming the present, and the Facebook founder was quick to turn the company’s attention to mobile devices at every level. Facebook does not intend to make the same mistake twice. That philosophy first became clear when the company bought Oculus, the industry’s leading virtual reality hardware maker, in 2014.

“Mobile technology is the platform of today, and now we are also preparing for the platforms of tomorrow,” Zuckerberg said at the time of the $ 2 billion acquisition. “Oculus has the opportunity to create the most social platform ever and change the way we work, play and communicate.”

Becoming “a metaverse company” is a further evolution of this thinking. To many, Roblox has seemed to be the clearest incarnation of the current metaverse: a social world where users can jump between virtual experiences while creating their own experiences within it. In particular, it is not a virtual reality experience, but thrives largely on mobile and desktop devices. Roblox’s vision has resonated with investors, the now public company is worth more than $ 45 billion, a fraction of the value of Facebook, but more than almost any other gaming company in the West.

Facebook has been signaling its continued interest in this space. In June they bought a Roblox-like platform called Crayta for an undisclosed sum, and have spent much of the past few years buying up a host of VR-focused game studios.

The company has tried to build its own virtual reality-centric social centers, but most have collapsed. Facebook’s metaverse-like Horizon platform made major headlines when it was announced nearly two years ago, but the company has had little to say during its extremely quiet beta period. This week, Facebook’s Andrew Bosworth detailed that Vice President of Games Vivek Sharma would take over the effort under a new product group focused on the metaverse led by Vishal Shah of Instagram.

There is a very particular distinction in Facebook’s choice to rebrand itself as a “meta-versa” rather than an AR / VR. While some may have seen specialized hardware as essential to a spatial Internet, it is becoming increasingly clear that users are not clamoring to adopt the first headsets, even as other new gaming platforms greatly accelerate their growth. While the company’s Quest 2 headphones have sold far better than their previous devices, according to Facebook, which has yet to release concrete sales figures, it’s unclear if they really need a world full of users wearing Facebook glasses and headsets attached. to the face in order. embrace this metaverse ideal, or if that would just be the icing on the cake.


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