Big tech companies across the spectrum, including Meta, Microsoft, and Apple, are scaling back on virtual reality research and development. The technological demands of the metaverse are more advanced than CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg have anticipated, and employees are feeling the impact.
Microsoft recently laid off 10,000 workers, cutting funding from the lab responsible for the production of its mixed-reality “HoloLens.” The army was originally in the works to use the Microsoft lens for aids in combat and training, but the technology has since been labeled as “dangerous and poorly designed.”
Meta laid off 11,000 employees last November and continues to struggle to gain interest and traction for its ambitious metaverse project. A report from Insider notes that a combination of obstacles keeps Zuckerberg’s meta-dreams shackled. For one, the technology isn’t keeping up with the funding, which is causing investors to reassess their investments and back out. It’s difficult to make this product actually work and is expensive to make.
In addition, it’s unclear who even wants the product. Hasan Chowdhury opines in the Insider article,
The metaverse is an inchoate, even incoherent, technical concept, there’s little evidence anyone wants it, and it’s expensive to make. It seems a bad thing to focus on when your shareholders or investors are clamoring for you to cut costs and focus on stuff that may be less sexy but sells, like ads or subscription-based software. To that end, it isn’t surprising that firms laying off staff are chopping these expensive, experimental units back.”Hasan Chowdhury, Mass Layoffs in Silicon Valley Spell Doom for the Metaverse (businessinsider.com)
When Mark Zuckerberg renamed his company from Facebook to “Meta,” it signaled his confidence in the viability of virtual reality. Today, his dreams, along with the ambitions of other formidable tech companies, are experiencing an acute reality check.