Meta's metaverse bill keeps rising, crosses $15 billion in 2022
When Facebook rebranded to Meta last year, little did anybody know that the company would be spending billions on building its vision of the metaverse that would look uninspiring even a year later. Worse still, the company isn't specifying exactly where it spent over $15 billion in 2022 alone, Business Insider has reported.
Mark Zuckerberg must be credited for making the term metaverse more popular in the past year, even though this isn't the first time companies are delving into this space. Interesting Engineering had spoken to Roblox, and Chip Morningstar makers, who created a metaverse for the movie Habitat in 1997, before even Facebook was founded.
Yet nobody has spent money chasing the dream of a digital world like Zuckerberg's Meta has. That comes at a time when the company's premium product Facebook is seeing negative growth for the first time in its history, which is especially worrying for investors.
What has Meta built so far?
It was December last year when Meta unveiled its Horizon Worlds and made it freely accessible to all. Earlier this week, it also opened pre-orders for its most advanced VR headset, the Meta Quest Pro. The timeline between these two events is interspersed with Mark Zuckerberg's legless avatar floating around in Horizon Worlds, taking selfies that only further the conspiracy theory of him being an emotionless robot.
In comparison, Microsoft, which has been struggling with the uptake of its VR headsets in the commercial markets, has secured a $22 billion agreement for 120,000 headsets over ten years.
While NVIDIA, which isn't a significant player in the space yet, has managed to shrink VR headsets to the size of regular glasses.
Meta has dedicated a significant portion of its revenues and workforce under the Reality Labs division to building the metaverse, which analysts suggest is mainly going into research and development. Experts told Business Insider that it is rather tricky for Meta to go out and acquire VR companies due to substantial regulatory interest in the company. Therefore, they are likely trying to build everything in-house and organically.
That Meta refuses to itemize its losses or even sales of its VR headsets does little to clarify the accurate picture.
Betting on Zuckerberg
Under such circumstances, where the public interest in the metaverse has waned, it appears the investors are simply betting on Zuckerberg and his ability to pull it off. The last time, Zuckerberg was in such a position that he had acquired Instagram for $1 billion. Some analysts believed that Zuckerberg was throwing away his money, yet a decade later, the acquisition seemed to make perfect sense for Facebook.
Even today, experts opine that Zuckerberg is dragging Meta to failure, but as the CEO told The Verge during a recent interview, he expects his vision for the metaverse to come alive in the next four to five years. He is also hopeful that people will pick Meta's Quest Pro VR headsets instead of PCs and workstations in the future since we will be living in a world that uses VR for work and play.
Only time will tell if Zuckerberg's vision and Meta's expenditure to build it were the right thing to do.