Meta’s CTO and head of its Reality Labs division, Andrew Bosworth, defended the company’s controversial pivot to the Metaverse.
In one long blog postthe executive said the company’s strategy was misunderstood and that the Facebook owner had pledged to invest in the VR and AR tools needed to build its version of the metaverse.
“We never thought it would be easy or simple, but this year has been even harder than we expected,” admitted Bosworth. “Economic challenges across the globe, combined with pressures on Meta’s core business, have created a perfect storm of skepticism about the investments we are making.”
Indeed, the company’s stock price has fallen almost 65% since the start of the year (over the same period, the S&P 500 has fallen 16.5%).
Investors remain concerned about the tens of billions poured into Reality Labs. In October, Altimeter Capital said that the CEO had strayed, calling on the company to cut metaverse and VR spending.
Bosworth said that Meta had realized cost savings (including collective dismissals), “but I can confidently say that after one of the toughest years in the company’s history, Meta remains as committed to our vision for the future as we were the day we set it. ‘have announced.”
He highlighted the company’s continued success with its main social media product – although it faces growing competition from TikTok, BeReal and other platforms, as well as threats to its business model. advertising due to Apple’s privacy changes.
He also cited the launch of the company’s flagship mixed reality headset, the Meta Quest Pro. But it received mixed reviews and complaints about prolific bugs.
Earlier this week, the former CTO of Oculus (the virtual reality company acquired by Meta that spun off into Reality Labs) left the company. Virtual reality and video game veteran John Carmack said in an internal memo that the company was “ill-prepared for the inevitable competition and/or belt-tightening.”
He added, “When you’ve worked hard for optimization for most of your life, seeing something extremely inefficient hurts your soul.”
In his post, Bosworth also defended the company’s avatar system for the Metaverse and said the company was investing in improving them.
Users have long ridiculed the company for the avatars’ lack of legs, leading CEO Mark Zuckerberg to announce in a virtual video that legs were coming as he jumped. But it was later revealed that the demo was staged with motion capture.
Meta is believed to be working on multiple generations of augmented reality goggles, with Bosworth revealing around half of the division’s budget goes to AR.
“Building true AR glasses will require a massive set of breakthroughs and inventions in all sorts of areas, from miniature lenses and displays to lightweight materials and AI-powered interfaces,” he admitted, but said Meta was working on “one of the most ambitious R&D operations in the world today, focused on building a truly revolutionary new kind of computing platform.”
After an interesting year for the company, “we think it will only get better in 2023,” he continued. “The machine learning revolution that has unfolded over the past decade has reached a boiling point this year, and it continues to accelerate. At Meta, our highest priorities as a business are benefiting currently over a decade of investment in AI.”
Meta seems to be making a huge bet on AI this month suddenly decide to suspend or cancel a number of data centers around the world to redesign them as AI installations.
But like DCD previously reported, the company has not finalized these designs. The suddenness of the change also left contractors and vendors on the edge, as large data center projects suddenly disappeared from the roadmaps.
It’s unclear how this leadership change plays into the company’s metaverse plans.
Meta’s Bosworth made no mention of the data center change in his post, but noted that metaverse technology “will rely heavily on advanced AI to function.”