Facebook will add 10K jobs in Europe to create Zuckerberg's metaverse dream
The number of workers Facebook will hire in Europe to develop "metaverse" products.
Even though it remains a relatively niche technology, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg remains incredibly bullish on virtual reality, and today made a commitment to doubling down on the company’s investment in the space. Over the next five years, a press release says, the social media giant will create 10,000 jobs across Europe to advance its goal of creating a “metaverse,” a virtual universe where people can work, play, and socialize with their friends.
Facebook, in simple terms, sees VR as being the platform for an entirely new internet, and it wants to be the one to create it. Then it will no longer be beholden to the likes of Apple and Google’s operating systems. And it’ll be able to continue serving ads to users (while likely abusing their data). Facebook’s worst nightmare is being left behind, so it’s perpetually trying to get out in front of the next big thing. For now, it’s betting that the metaverse.
No slacking — Facebook’s first example of a metaverse service is Horizons Workrooms, a VR space that launched in August and which lets teams host meetings in a simulacrum of a real office, even as workers are themselves distributed in different locations. The service is supported on Facebook’s Oculus Quest, which made virtual reality accessible by bringing the price of a headset down to just $300 for the Quest 2.
Whether people actually want to collaborate in such virtual environments remains a big question. VR is an entirely captive experience — when you strap on the headset, you can’t see anything else that’s happening around you in your physical space. That means you can’t have YouTube videos playing in corner of your eye while you work or otherwise goof off. Zoom meetings are already exhausting enough, but with a product like Workrooms, all your movements are visible to your coworkers. Facebook thinks this could be better than videoconferencing, and maybe allow you to never return to your workday commute.
Inevitable fallout — It’s probably going to be years before Zuckerberg’s vision for a metaverse actually becomes a reality... if it ever does. Amid massive disillusionment about Facebook, the idea that people would want to be even more immersed in its ecosystem seems dubious. The company is under fire following a whistleblower report that it knew its services harm teenagers, and further leaked data suggest Facebook is struggling with how to retain younger users who are leaving for alternatives like TikTok.
Of course, Facebook is still doing perfectly fine today, and repeated scandals haven’t done much to significantly hurt the company’s growth in recent years. Regulatory action risks breaking up Facebook’s disparate apps like Instagram and WhatsApp, the combination of which has supported the company’s market dominance. Acquisitions won’t work anymore as lawmakers won’t allow them. If Facebook wants users to stick around long enough for it to develop the metaverse, Facebook needs to convince people that its services are worth what it asks them to give up in return.