This week the metaverse swung wildly between love and hate, fight and flight.
Mark Zuckerberg showed his grit as the Meta CEO literally donned boxing gloves and faced off against UFT champion Alex Volkanovski.
By contrast, Microsoft meekly surrendered another metaverse division that nobody knew existed, while Paris Hilton announced her intention to bring real love into the virtual plane.
Mark Zuckerberg’s big metaverse fight
It’s no secret that Mark Zuckerberg has had a fight on his hands to convince the mainstream media – and some Meta investors – that his metaverse strategy is the right one to take the company forward.
It’s one battle the Meta CEO seems to be winning as stricter cost controls, and a $40 billion share buyback scheme, have helped to push the value of Meta’s stock from $153 at the start of the month to $178 at the time of publication.
In recent weeks Zuckerberg has been keen to talk up the role of artificial intelligence at Meta moving forwards. Given the populist hype wave that artificial intelligence is currently enjoying, it is a shrewd move from Zuckerberg to talk up Meta’s AI credentials.
Mainstream (and some tech) outlets have used this slight shift in rhetoric to suggest that ‘the Zuck’ is somehow abandoning his metaverse vision. In reality, the long-term strategy of the company remains completely unchanged.
As if to underscore that point Zuckerberg met with Alex Volkanovski this week to don boxing gloves and spar with the UFC featherweight champion in the metaverse.
As far as metaphors go this one is not incredibly subtle. If you don’t get it already, Zuckerberg passionately believes in his metaverse project, and he’s more than prepared to fight for it.
Paris in the metaverse
Paris Hilton has announced her latest foray into the metaverse, this time teaming up with Sandbox to create Parisland – a pixelated love island where users are invited to hook up, and eventually even marry. Maybe.
The event seems well-timed in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day, but faithful MetaNews readers might remember that Taco Bell previously announced its own plans to wed a couple in the metaverse. Unsurprisingly, nothing ever came of that particular marketing ploy.
This time, of course, the metaverse wedding is surely bound to really happen. These honest marketing types wouldn’t try to mislead us again, would they?
In any case, if putting the virtual into ‘reality TV’ sounds appealing to you, the Parisland event begins on February 13 and runs to March 13.
Microsoft taps out again
Microsoft causally scrapped its hundred-strong industrial metaverse team this week, just four months after creating it. The ‘industrial metaverse core’ is the latest casualty of wider redundancies at the firm.
Last month Microsoft announced it would lay off 10,000 workers or around 5% of its total workforce. With the software giant laser-focused on artificial intelligence, it’s unsurprising that the metaverse side of the business is taking all the hits.
The company also recently killed off AltspaceVR and the Mixed Reality Tool Kit, two other Microsoft metaverse projects that absolutely nobody cared about. The question now is how many more dead-weight metaverse divisions Microsoft will have to dump as the company follows its artificial intelligence dreams.
This week the fashion label Hermes won a legal case that may have repercussions for the future shape of the metaverse. According to Hermes’ legal case, Mason Rothschild ripped off their Birkin bags with his own “MetaBirkins” NFT project.
On Wednesday a jury in Manhatten agreed that the digital replication of the bags infringed on Hermes’ copyright and awarded the firm $133,000 in compensation.
The Sandbox and Saudi Arabia
This week Sandbox signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the government of Saudia Arabia. In an announcement on Tuesday, Sandbox COO Sebastien Borget said “we look forward to exploring, advising and supporting mutually each other in activations of the Metaverse.”
What does that mean?
All we can say for certain is that the announcement triggered a Sandbox token pump, as SAND jumped 30% midweek, before falling below previous levels by Friday.