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Snap condemns the metaverse, as Meta’s value drops by almost $90bn

Your weekly briefing on the metaverse // 31 October 2022
 
Happy Halloween! I hope your day is spooky and fun; though I will stay away from UploadVR’s top VR horror game picks for today. Also, I just published an audiobook (more below).

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Panic! At the (Metaverse) Disco

Snap condemned the metaverse, with spiky remarks from its CEO.

  • ‘The metaverse is ‘living inside of a computer.’ The last thing I want to do when I get home from work during a long day is live inside of a computer,’ said Snap CEO Evan Spiegel.
  • It again outlines Snap’s focus on AR and the real world. Instead of a separate reality, Snap has made clear that it wants technology to be a part of people’s lives every day, along a similar vein to Niantic’s views. ‘Our fundamental bet is that people actually love the real world: they want to be together in person with their friends.’
  • It’s worth remembering that Snap’s shares fell sharply in recent weeks, as the company pivots towards its AR strategy.

Meta saw its shares drop by 22% (at the time of writing), invigorating a debate on whether the metaverse has any legs.

  • The reason why is complicated, but two overruling interpretations preside at the moment:
    • Metaverse: Some see this as a dismissal of Meta’s vision on the metaverse, as investors flake on its long-term ambitions. Altimeter Capital sparked this further, recommending that Meta cuts its staff by 20% and cap metaverse investments to $5bn a year.
    • Ads business: Others see it as strictly a remark on tough economic conditions and Meta’s margins shrinking, as people spend less with the company. Apple’s updates did not help with this.
  • Both are true, but I lean towards the shaky legs theory (pun intended). Reality Labs lost $3.67bn in Q3 2022, with more losses to come. The heavy investments do not mesh with a tough economic outlook and an endangered ads business, chilling investors and their trust.
  • Will the value of Meta’s shares bounce back? Perhaps, when we leap out of the market dip and companies return to spending across its social platforms. Meta still reaches billions of people across its portfolio, who still use its suite daily. But trust in its metaverse initiatives will take longer; and as Zuckerberg has a unique level of control over the company, all eyes are on the CEO.

What do you think of Meta’s movement and Snap’s comments? Join the discussion and meet like-minded professionals on the Immersive Wire Discord. 


An announcement on my book…

The Metaverse: A Professional Guide is now available as an audiobook on Audible! Listen to the audio version of the book, highly rated by professionals in our space. One review from Amazon: ‘It is definitely a book worth reading and for those who know more there are lots of facts, insights and explanations across the metaverse, AR, VR, and its applications. As Tom Ffiske outlines, this is a never-ending journey so I’m pleased to have started the journey with this book’

Get it in your region:

USAFrance
UKGermany

Elsewhere


Important stories over the last week

Got stories? Do let me know at tom (at) immersivewire (dot) com. 

  • Access Partnership and Tony Blair Institute announced a joint woman in tech event on creating an inclusive metaverse.
  • Apple updated its App Store Review Guidelines, where NFTs can be sold so long as businesses use in-app purchases.
  • Blippar celebrates the first anniversary of its webAR SDK with some new updates.
  • CHOM5KY vs CHOMSKY: A Playful Conversation on AI will have its world premiere at Berlin’s KINDL Centre for Contemporary Art, on 4 November.
  • E P O K and Lydia Smith collaborated on an event at its Mayfair store, showcasing NFTs and art.
    • Vaidehi Bhargava, who attended on behalf of the Immersive Wire, commented that it was a remarkable sensory experience. One sculpture, called Foreign Body, explored how technology can warp women’s engagement with themselves. Lydia Smith’s creative thesis is about a three-way conversation between the physical, digital, and the physical — using distorted 3D images as inspiration for new clay sculptures.
    • My view stands in that I am careful with NFTs. Yet like with any other tool, it can be mused to make poignant works of art as well (such as here).
  • Fast Travel Games confirmed that Virtuoso has been updated for the newly released Meta Quest Pro. The company also announced that Broken Edge, the multiplayer VR sword fighting game, will launch on 17 November.
  • ForeVR Games raised $10m in funding, to grow its library of titles.
  • HaptX announced its new Gloves G1 product line, building on the company’s capabilities.
  • HTC VIVE partnered with The Park Playground to launch a first of its kind fully wireless VR experience in Europe.
  • L’Oréal and Meta announced a new partnership, to launch a startup acceleration program, focusing on creativity in the metaverse.
  • Meta will testify in US courts, in the case against acquiring Within.
  • OVER, a decentralised infrastructure for an open AR metaverse, is partnering with Luxochain and TerraBitcoin Club to host Lugano‘s first AR treasure hunt.
  • Parallel People is a group VR experience hosted by Raindance Immersive.
    • Without spoiling it, I loved the show. It makes you question reality, and what you and others see and hear. When it runs again, I highly recommend watching it. 
  • Paranormal Hunter, the VR-supported co-op survival horror title, will come on Steam Early Access in 2023.
  • PepsiCo launched Frito-Lay’s web3 campaign with FIFA, using Vatom’s technology to deliver the digital experience.
  • Pixaera raised $5.7m in funding, to expand its immersive training capabilities.
  • Resonai raised $20m in funding, to expand its growth and platform.
  • Spatial announced a collaboration with Ezel.Life and the Government of Mexico City, to bring The Day of the Dead into the platform.
  • Stage Inc. announced it has launched the world’s first AI-generated fashion design tool for avatars, designed for virtual worlds.
  • Taqtile launched Manifest Maker, a free app that helps make AR guides.
  • Valo Motion announced the first two installations of ValoArena in the US: RPM Raceway in New Jersey; and Air Madness trampoline park in South Dakota.
  • Yat Siu made an interesting argument that the metaverse should not be measured by its daily active users.
    • Basically, some figures (such as Decenteraland) only take into account wallet transactions, or users with wallets — which he equates to measuring a population based on how many trade in a stock market. Instead, he recommends focusing on revenue or job creation. (The whole piece is worth a read).
  • Yoom raised $15m in funding, as it continues its rebrand.
  • Zion announced version two, which is for… web5.
    • Personally, web3 is complicated enough (for now), in my books.

Looking for assistance

Want to receive help from readers of the Immersive Wire? Send an email with ‘looking for assistance’ in the subject line to tom (at) immersivewire (dot) com.

  • Pavithra Rajesh, a journalist from Northeastern University in Boston, is looking to interview people about the metaverse and/or immersive reality for a story she is working on. She’s looking for academic experts, authors, employees, consumers. etc. who have any experience studying and/or working in this field of emerging technologies. DM her on Twitter for more information, or email rajesh (dot) p (at) northeastern (dot) edu.

Constantly experiment

Yanna Zhu, Metaverse and XR Strategy Specialist at PwC

What is your background?

Coming from a Psychology and Cognitive Science background, I’ve always been fascinated by the intersection between people and technology. I first developed a keen interest in emerging technologies and how they can be used for good when I worked in a brain-interface lab in Shanghai. 

I remember first putting on a VR headset in 2017 as part of a pop up in London’s Shard, experiencing genuine goosebumps and excitement as I was balancing along a virtual plank 300m above the ground. This taught me how powerful this tech can be and opened up the floor to infinite ideas (and infinite curiosity!) for other use cases.

Fast forward a few years and I joined PwC’s Metaverse Technologies team in London, focusing on Metaverse and Extended Reality strategy. I work with companies and global PwC teams across a range of industries to discover, design and deploy XR and Metaverse solutions. I have vast experience using these technologies for workplace training and collaboration, among many other use cases.

What are you working on, and what’s a key learning that you’ve had from it? 

Running countless immersive collaboration sessions in bespoke VR worlds with clients across the globe. Delivering a pioneering research report that forms the foundation of the UK’s national XR healthcare strategy. Getting hands-on creating immersive experiences in production studios. These are some examples of the whirlwind of exciting and cutting-edge projects I’ve been incredibly lucky to be involved in! People get so creative when they first encounter the technology and its value can truly be applied to any industry sector. Equally, I work closely with vendors and specialists who bring XR and the Metaverse to life – it’s inspiring to see how passionate people in this industry are about their products and services.

My 3 top learnings are:

  • Use cases that matter: Distinguish early between use cases where an immersive solution adds value or solves a problem, versus use cases that ask for XR because it’s a shiny, cool technology. There’s no harm in either, but aligning everyone involved in the project early on the end goal of the solution creates reassurance and shared expectations.
  • Find allies: When pioneering XR and Metaverse solutions (or any emerging technology!) in business, seek enablers. These are people who are ready to be educated on the value of the technology and will help you break barriers to adoption. They will also help you spread knowledge and excitement to a wider audience. A single person can’t reach everyone, so build a network and use it extensively!
  • Scale up with a solid strategy: To rapidly scale up VR in a business you need a solid use case (to secure investment in the tech), a reliable logistics partner (to ensure successful deployment), and a handful of enthusiastic, proactive people (who bring it all to life).

If you had to give one piece of advice, what would you give? 

Working in emerging tech naturally comes with lots of experimenting and trying out things for the first time. There’s not always a straightforward way and things can go wrong. Rather than viewing new challenges as a force to leave your comfort zone – it helps immensely to see them as a way to expand it. Each little leap forward in one project means you will be much more comfortable overcoming a similar, or larger, challenge in the next project. 

Bonus tip: Being proactive has opened so many doors for me. It’s always a good idea to offer support and ask questions – be it reaching out to experts to learn more about their specialism or volunteering to learn how to operate a new piece of tech. Proactivity is at the core of every great and successful team, it propels you forward and creates opportunities.

For more on Yanna, check her out here.


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Meditative with the VIVE Flow. Photo credit: Tom Ffiske

Tom Ffiske

Editor, Immersive Wire

Tom Ffiske is the Editor of the Immersive Wire, a weekly newsletter on the immersive industry.