The first rule of the Metaverse is, apparently, that you don't talk about the Metaverse.
At least, that seems to be the takeaway from a telling anecdote from Sheryl Sandberg's wedding in a recent Bloomberg report about Mark Zuckerberg's all-but-failed capital-M Metaverse.
As you may or may not recall, 2022 was supposed to be the year of the metaverse, and Zuckerberg was so gung-ho about it that he quite literally changed his company's name from Facebook to Meta to make it happen.
But the reality of Meta's Metaverse fell far short of the big dreams and billions of dollars the tech founder poured into it. By August 2022, when his simplistic and cartoonish avatar dropped, it seemed like an extremely expensive joke — though not, it seems, to the man himself.
Not long after the avatar incident, Zuckerberg attended his former chief operating officer's nuptials in scenic Wyoming and, when it came up, he was reportedly very peeved (although a spokesperson told Bloomberg that "Mark doesn’t recall having a conversation on that topic while he was there.")
According to multiple people familiar with the occurrence, though, the CEO and founder got so upset that he became convinced that his company's public relations department didn't know how make the metaverse sexy. In response, the company moved people around, though they weren't able to sell that particular brick of coal after all.
Between then and now, there have been lots of indications that the Metaverse was going to ultimately faceplant. Wall Street recoiled against the multi-billion-dollar bet, experts bashed the investment, and once it actually launched, people who actually hung out in the Zuckerverse said it was "sad, lonely, and expensive." As the company kept hemorrhaging money on the virtual reality flop, it began to lay people off en masse.
The rest, as they say, is history. Meta lost a whopping $46.5 billion on Zuckerberg's metaverse moonshot — enough money to be its own Fortune 500 company — and has been quietly pivoting to artificial intelligence in the wake of OpenAI's ChatGPT.
Could that mockery have been part of that pivot? Who can never be sure.
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