Vishal Shah, Meta’s Metaverse VP, argues that the metaverse hype cycle is now dead. The executive went on to add that this is a good thing because now he and Meta’s other employees can simply “put our heads down and build.”
The comments came during Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech convention last week in Deer Valley, Utah, as Shah responded to questions regarding the current health of the industry.
The metaverse lives, but the hype is dead
The mainstream media has published countless column inches about the metaverse since the turn of the year, many taking the form of a eulogy, as media attention turns from virtual worlds to the shiny new toy that is AI.
The failure of the metaverse is now assumed fact even when in opposition to the facts. Typing “metaverse” into a Google news search on any day of the week instantly reveals the deluge of negative press the industry currently faces.
Headlines such as “Lessons From the Catastrophic Failure of the Metaverse”, “How Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse gamble backfired” and “Skepticism, confusion, frustration: Inside Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse struggles,” illustrate the point perfectly.
It was therefore predictable that Meta’s Metaverse VP would be challenged on the topic when appearing at the Brainstorm Tech convention. Is the metaverse dead?
“I hope not because really then I’m out of a job,” quipped Shah.
“I think the metaverse hype is dead,” clarified Shah. “I think we were in a hype cycle, like any new thing. Those invested last year, because it was the hype, yeah they lost conviction. We didn’t invest for the hype, we have been investing in the space for years.”
Shah then reminded attendees that Meta acquired Oculus as far back as 2014, back when the company was still called Facebook. The point is clear: Facebook/Meta has been interested in and building the metaverse for a considerable time.
Now is a time for building
Meta’s long-running investment in the metaverse is a poke in the eye of every pundit who traces the company’s interest only as far back as the 2021 renaming exercise.
For his part, Shah was keen to emphasize the resolve of Meta in its pursuit of the metaverse dream.
“We believe in this next generation of computing and we’re invested in it for the long haul. And so, we’ve always said, you know, when we rebranded the company in 2021, this was a long-term investment – ten-plus years,” says Shah.
“We continue to believe deeply in that, but it’s not going to get delivered in a year. So I’m actually pretty happy that there was both a hype and a trough of disillusionment last year. It was tough to live through that ourselves, but now we can put our heads down and build.”
Such a long-term vision may be admirable, but such revelations are not likely to enthuse investors seeking returns on their outlay. For that, Meta has other tricks.
Meta stocks perform well in 2023
In November 2022 Meta stock prices fell to $90.79, their lowest levels since July 2015.
The slump coincided with the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, although suggesting that the launch of the AI led to the decline in Meta’s stock would be unwarranted given that the stock price was falling in value from as early as September.
Still, the correlation was unflattering for Meta. In a bid to turn its fortunes around the company announced its “Year of Efficiency” earlier this year.
A program of swinging cost-cutting measures including redundancies has done much to appease investors, despite the realization that Meta’s metaverse may be years more in the making. So far around 10,000 staff have lost their jobs. Meta Platforms Inc is now trading at £310.62, up 149% on the year.