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Meta's VP of Metaverse says 'the metaverse hype is dead,' but that's OK

Haley Tenore   

Meta's VP of Metaverse says 'the metaverse hype is dead,' but that's OK
  • Meta's VP of Metaverse said the hype cycle for the metaverse is dead, but that's okay.
  • The metaverse team can "put their heads down and build" the experiences, Vishal Shah told Fortune.

Metaverse hype is no longer a thing, according to Meta's VP of Metaverse — but he's not mad about the lack of noise — it lets his team focus on cracking the code on the ambitious project.

Meta exec Vishal Shah told Fortune that the metaverse hype cycle was followed by a "trough of disillusionment" that was "tough to live through," but now his team can "put their heads down and build." Shah spoke on Tuesday at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech live conference hosted in Utah.

"I think the metaverse hype is dead. I think we were in a hype cycle," Shah said at the conference. "We didn't invest for the hype, we have been investing in the space for years," he added.

For many people, even the concept of "the metaverse" is confusing, but it's generally a catch-all term used to describe the idea of a virtual world of connected digital experiences accessed via a headset where people can simulate reality with the ability to work, socialize, shop, view entertainment, and generally hang out.

"I don't think it's like a light switch, where one day you'll suddenly feel like you're in the metaverse, whereas the day before you weren't," Shah told Fortune." I think it will be an iterative process over the course of many years."

Mark Zuckerberg's metaverse long game has faced pushback

Mark Zuckerberg is a big believer in the metaverse, even rebranding his company Facebook into Meta to reference his view that the future was heading in that direction. But Meta's internal metaverse and VR efforts, which posted a loss of nearly $14 billion in a single year, have drawn scrutiny from Wall Street as they have yet to turn profit.

Even some Meta employees are hesitant about the effort. According to The Washington Post, only 26% of Meta employees who responded to an internal survey said they were confident in Zuckerberg's leadership since the company's pivot toward the metaverse. The Verge reported in October that staff said the flagship metaverse app had quality and performance issues, and according to one memo, the team weren't really using the software much either.

Zuckerberg has largely seemed unfazed by the doubters, but more recently he's been talking up about the company's AI efforts in public instead, and not talking about the metaverse nearly as much as he used to. That's a big change from last year, as Insider's Kali Hays and Ashley Stewart previously reported his metaverse obsession in conversations had been "driving employees nuts."

Meta and Zuckerberg are also about to have some major competition in the space. People access Meta's metaverse apps through the company's Quest lineup of headsets, but Apple recently announced the $3,499 Vision Pro headset. Interestingly enough, Apple is avoiding the term metaverse in favor of "spatial computing." CEO Tim Cook has said he avoids using the word metaverse because most people don't understand what it means, and executive Greg Joswiak told The Wall Street Journal that the term is one that he will never use.

Meta CTO Andrew "Boz" Bosworth recently responded to jabs at the word in an Instagram Q&A where he was asked if the term had done more harm than good. He disagreed, and said he compared the confusion around the word to the initial misunderstanding of the word "internet."

"The internet actually is still, to this day, kind of hard to define," Bosworth said, "except that we all know what it is because we use it."

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