Meta and the Metaverse: a mostly useless big hit

  1. Facebook (now Meta) is very serious about this switch of focus to everything Metaverse, and the “old” business and the “new” will be essentially two separate entities. Innovate or die. It’s a bold move.
  2. Facebook/Meta has invested, and will invest, several $B to make the Metaverse a reality.
  3. They have their own view of what the use cases for the Metaverse will be, and it seems to me that… They still haven’t figured it out. No, really. They want to be a platform, and a marketplace, and make money off that. I think they’re missing on three HUGE use cases that I would instead bet on: fitness, learning/education, and work. Let’s be specific.
  4. Fitness: it makes sense to use AR/VR to vastly improve how people experience fitness today. I’m more of a “solo” type, happy to hike a mountain alone rather than do a Peloton class, but for most people, “group” fitness, or at least “augmented” fitness, is a thing. A $100B/year market ripe for disruption.
  5. Education: again, another huge vertical where a novel approach to engaging lessons and exams could bring tons of revenues for the company. Or, just build MetaU, the global university, where hundreds of Nobel-prize winners teach you their stuff, and where Teaching Assistants are smart AI bots that help you better than any human counterpart, where a VR environment is where you can hang out with other students, and where tens of millions of people from all over the world pay $1,500/year to learn. Do the math, it’s a $50B/year revenue stream. But Facebook/Meta wants to be a platform… They don’t want to compete with Harvard and Stanford and MIT and everyone else.
  6. Work: maybe, just maybe, they will have the right technology to really outcompete Zoom and the rest. Because Zoom is much better than nothing, but Zoom sucks, and remote work is going to stay forever, and the world needs something better, soon.
  7. Apple is a pain in the butt for them (or a double pain, if they come up with their own AR/VR hardware). Possible solution: build the Metaverse, control it, become the Apple of the Metaverse, stop being dependent from the Apple’s digital wall. Good strategy, if it works and if Apple falls asleep for a few years.
  8. Why does my title say “mostly useless”? Because there’s a ton of desire to build things for the Metaverse, but a lot more confusion on what exactly should be built. Second Life, Minecraft, Roblox, there’s tons of examples of partially or vastly successful Metaverse-like communities out there, and yet it seems that Facebook/Meta is so focused on the technical details to be unable to describe a grand vision that makes sense. All the examples they provide are so lame, so shallow, so… sad, and so culturally narrow, that I can’t really understand if they really have a proper strategy under the hood, or are just improvising. But maybe they will get there eventually.
  9. Side comment. Facebook/Meta, do you really want to change the world? Use your data to fix divorces, finance worthy people, increase the mental health of your customers, instead of trying to squeeze every cent out of their attention span.
  10. Despite all of the above, I’m still bullish on Facebook/Meta the company, and I believe that they will do well in the next few years.

Part I: MetaSocial

Part II: MetaCreate

Part III: MetaWork

Part IV: MetaLearn

Part V: MetaMeta (and Facebook Reality Labs)

Part VI: MetaPrivacy

Part VII: MetaHardware

Part VIII: MetaAvatars and Interfaces

Part IX: MetaEnd

Suggested further reading:

  1. The Metaverse it’s already here, and it’s Minecraft (2021)
  2. How I got hired by (with Second Life)(2008) — curious story from a “Metaverse” from 13 years ago. I wrote it. Lots, and very little, has changed since then.
  3. Stratechery on Meta
  4. Tim Sweeney (EPIC’s founder/CEO) on the Metaverse (2019)

Tech, startups and investments. Global life. Italian heart.

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Simone Brunozzi

Simone Brunozzi

Tech, startups and investments. Global life. Italian heart.

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