How Mark Zuckerberg got lost in a bizarre virtual world

Critics of Zuckerberg claimed the October 2021 Meta rebranding was little more than a publicity stunt to distract from the company’s problems.

“What’s embarrassing is that journalists and policymakers fell for it,” McNamee says. “The conversation shifted to the metaverse, touted as the next big thing, instead of the train wreck it really is.” A Meta spokesperson called the claim “nonsense.”

Meta and Zuckerberg insisted that many of Haugen’s claims painted a “false image” of the company. The company argued that the data it revealed was mostly research conducted by the company as it tried to tackle the damage.

But former Facebook insiders believe there’s also an element of savvy PR: Meta’s relaunch has created a fresh start for the company. A source said: “Mark was impatient with the low and dirty compromises of running a massive social media platform. It’s a bit of escapism to do something innovative.

Not everyone agrees. “They put their money where their mouth is on it,” notes a second source. “Mark had a vision and ultimately was an engineer and a technician.”

The CEO’s commitment is so serious that he reportedly told staff to start calling themselves “metamates”.

Whatever the truth, the stakes for Facebook, Meta and Zuckerberg are high. Tens of billions of dollars will have to be invested in cutting-edge technology with no clear path to making money.

While the bread and butter of Facebook and Instagram bring in billions of dollars in advertising, there’s no obvious parallel in the metaverse yet.

As Brian Wieser, advertising and technology analyst at GroupM, notes: “It’s far from a reality.

“There is no paid media in the conventional sense,” he says, adding that “at some point people will start to relabel in-game advertising as metaverse advertising.”

Zuckerberg’s bet

Meta has identified he could be left behind if he doesn’t act now, a former employee says. “There’s this feeling that Meta is lonely dominant, but Facebook has always said it almost died in 2012 because of cellphones. The next thing might wipe it out. It’s paranoia. Not just the next app , but the next computing paradigm.

Wills, from Disguise, adds: “There are hundreds of millions of people attending these [virtual events], so that’s the threat that Meta sees. They say, “Okay, we need to develop these worlds to capture the attention of this younger generation.”

A Meta spokesperson said, “We have a long way to go before the Metaverse is realized. What Mark shared in 2021 was a statement of intent – ​​an ambitious vision of where we think the whole industry is heading and where we hope things will go.

Zuckerberg is preparing for the fight of his life. In a recent video posted online, he puts on his boxing gloves and throws a series of punches and kicks before tackling professional UFC fighter Khai Wu to the ground.

Video of Zuckerberg’s fight, which he says is helping him calm down from the rigors of managing Meta, comes as he prepares for the company’s Connect conference next month. Zuckerberg will have to show some of the fruits of the last year of research and development in the metaverse.

New versions of Meta’s Quest VR headset and its more advanced “Project Cambria” device could be unveiled. But a more complete version of Zuckerberg’s vision is still a long way off.

Zuckerberg’s bet is that Metaverse can reverse the decline of Meta’s other social media apps. He must convince billions of people to enter the metaverse – then find a way to dominate the new medium.

Meanwhile, Zuckerberg seems increasingly isolated. The chief executive frequently works remotely from his $100 million villa in Hawaii and some of his closest allies have quit.

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