Marker
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Marker

No Mercy No Malice

Why Zuckerberg Wants Us All in the ‘Metaverse’

For all its success, Facebook doesn’t have vertical distribution or much presence in the world of work

The Metaverse

The Zuck is obsessed with another Augustus, world-conquering emperor Augustus Caesar. But the boy-who-would-be-emperor has a problem, something standing between him and greater wealth and power. Not the Facebook board; he’s neutered that via dual-class shares. Not the government; his 900-person comms department, coupled with a massive increase in lobbying expenditures, has dispensed with that nuisance. The last remaining obstacle is the world itself … it’s distracting.

Virtual Fantasy

In 2014, Facebook acquired Oculus VR for $2.3 billion. Oculus was a Kickstarter-backed venture with a head-mounted virtual reality display in pre-production that was targeted mainly at immersive video gamers. The deal was controversial, but co-founder and boy genius Palmer Luckey defended it on Reddit: “I guarantee that you won’t need to log into your Facebook account every time you wanna use the Oculus Rift.”

Facebook You Can Wear to Work

To extend its run of success, Facebook must establish vertical distribution (i.e., hardware). As powerful as the platform is, the sixth-most-valuable company on Earth rests behind five others that all have more control over their distribution (i.e., iOS, Playstation, Android, Oil Wells, and Alexa). Facebook relies on other firms, including Apple and Google, for distribution. So the company is investing massively in hardware. With Oculus, Zuck sees a way to leapfrog mobile and laptops to connect people to Facebook in a more immersive and engaging way. And, more importantly, to enable him to treat Tim Cook as he does every elected official and technology ethicist: ignore him.

That’s So Meta

The most interesting aspect of the announcement, however, is that Facebook is pitching Workrooms not as a 3D version of Zoom, but as something called the “metaverse.”

MetaFace

Zuckerberg has been on a metaverse kick lately, telling people that, in five years, he thinks Facebook will be known as “a metaverse company,” and mentioning the term 16 times on the company’s most recent earnings call vs. once for “advertising.”