Quietly walk away from the Metaverse. Photo: Kevin Dietsch (Getty Images)
Mark Zuckerberg has started delivering on his promise to make 2023 a “Year of Efficiency.”
Just months after the last large-scale layoff, Meta is putting another batch of jobs on the chopping block. The parent company of Facebook and Instagram will lay off thousands of employees later this week, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
Since mid-2022, Meta has been struggling to rewind costs. It overspent on its big Metaverse dreams too quickly, while ad revenue fell due to a macroeconomic downturn and increased competition. A $12 a month blue tick subscription isn’t going to be enough to make up for it all.
A brief timeline of Meta’s job shuffle
November 2022: Meta reduced its workforce by 13% last November when it cut 11,000 jobs to save costs and increase efficiency. It was the first time the company had announced mass layoffs since it was founded 18 years ago.
January 2023: Meta rescinds full-time offers to a “small number of candidates” and readjusts hiring priorities — such a cut is a first for the company. Engineer and writer Gergely Orosz tweeted that the decision will affect around 20 new graduates in London, with offers due to start in February.
February 2023: Meta begins “flattening” its organizational structure, prompting managers and directors to move to individual contributor jobs—non-executive positions focused on programming, design, and research—or to leave. It’s also delaying the setting of team budgets as a new round of layoffs is planned.
Eradicate the Metaverse
In addition to all the payroll, there’s another massive black hole sucking Meta’s money: the Metaverse.
Shortly after the pandemic, when everyone was working, living, and breathing online, Zuckerbeg launched the metaverse as the next big thing and touted Facebook as its leader. He’s gone to great lengths to create an immersive world that can be accessed via virtual reality (VR) headsets and special goggles – albeit a slightly spooky world of floating torsos. It resulted in a brand and name change and cost billions in investments.
But it didn’t quite catch on.
No one used Horizon Worlds, the social universe that was quickly dismissed as a poor-quality video game, though Zuckerberg insisted it was more. By making it accessible, Meta made it subpar. And if Zuckerberg thought he could tap into the 13- to 17-year-old market to make the product work, he’ll have to think again. US senators reject the move to open the platform to young people.
Zuckerberg is quietly killing the Metaverse and turning to a “new top-level product group at Meta focused on generative AI to further our work in this space,” as he wrote in a Facebook post on Feb same day OpenAI teased the dialogue. based on ChatGPT. The team, which develops AI-powered products, will be led by Ahmad Al-Dahle, who will report to Chris Cox, Facebook Meta’s chief product officer.
Facebook’s focus on ChatGPT-like AI
Last month, on February 24th, the company introduced a new large language model called LLaMA, short for Large Language Model Meta AI. It is the core software of a new artificial intelligence system that sifts through vast amounts of text to summarize information and generate content.
“In the short term, we will focus on developing creative and expressive tools. Longer term, our focus will be on developing AI personas that can help people in a variety of ways,” Zuckerberg wrote in his post.
At the moment, the most distinct remnant of these remnants of the metaverse is the hardware – the headsets – intended for enthusiasts such as gamers and crypto fans.
Quotable: Meta messed up the Metaverse mission
“It just amazes me that people with so many resources can mess things up so spectacularly when the opportunity arises to do something cool,” -Celia Pearce, professor of game design at Northeastern, who has since explored virtual worlds without games addresses the failure of Metaverse in the mid-1990s
Metas shattered metaverse dreams, through the digits
42%: Percentage of 1,000 Meta employees surveyed in October 2022 who did not understand and internalize the company’s Metaverse vision
$24 billion: Cumulative loss accumulated by Reality Labs, the Metaverse projects division, in 2021 and 2022. Of that, $13.7 billion was from last year’s loss, which is up year over year.
“About 80%…a little more”: Meta’s investments go into its core business, which is its family of apps — Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and its related ad business.
“A little less than 20%”: Meta’s investment goes to Reality Labs, according to the New York Times’ Dealbook conference last November.
$562 billion: The current market cap of once-trillion-dollar company Meta
275%: How much more expensive was Meta’s Quest Pro VR headset than its $1,500 predecessor, the Quest 2, when it launched five months ago?
$1,000: The price of Meta’s Quest Pro VR headset is down 33% in the US and Canada on Sunday (March 5) as Meta draws level with competitors like the HTC Vive XR Elite. Further markets are to follow by March 15th
$30: The difference between the low-end 128GB Quest 2 headset for $400 and the 256GB Quest 2 headset with expanded storage, which is now $430 instead $500 is available
20 million: Quest line units sold so far, but how often are they used? Mark Rabkin, Meta’s vice president of VR, reportedly told staff that “the newer cohorts that are coming in…they’re just not that interested.” Perhaps the thinner 2024 variant at “the most attractive price point in the VR consumer market” will make it more popular.
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