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Mark Zuckerberg’s Plan for the Metaverse
The Facebook founder has bet his immense company on virtual reality. This radical pivot is aimed at future products that use brain-computer interfaces and upgraded telecom networks.
With nearly 3 billion Facebook users, 2 billion WhatsApp users, and 1.5 billion Instagram users, 38-year-old Mark Zuckerberg presides over the world’s largest social media empire by far. In October 2021, however, his company underwent a major rebrand. Changing its name from Facebook to Meta, the nearly $400 billion company officially threw its weight behind the “metaverse,” a concept for an immersive online experience letting users work, game, and socialize in virtual reality (VR), as opposed to navigating between separate websites as mediated by computers or smartphones.1 In just one year, the company intended to spend $10 billion on Reality Labs, its metaverse division that grew out of its 2014 acquisition of VR tech developer Oculus.2
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In practice, the metaverse currently consists of Meta’s new flagship product, Horizon Worlds, which is essentially a free-to-play online video game for Meta’s virtual reality headsets that was released in December 2021. Users navigate their avatars between activities in a three-dimensional space, socialize through voice chat, and explore virtual real estate designed by other users. Currently, Horizon Worlds does not offer an experience comparable to internet browsers or apps in terms of the services users can access. Its popular attractions include a simple zombie shooter game and a handful of virtual comedy clubs, but other areas are simply there so users can play with the physics of 3D-rendered projectiles.3
So far, the metaverse’s reception has been mixed at best. By the end of 2022, Horizon Worlds had fewer than 200,000 monthly active users, well below a company goal to reach 500,000, and far below the estimated 15 million VR headsets that Meta has sold.4 User retention is poor with most users leaving after a month and, on the hardware side, it seems unlikely that potential users would spend the necessary $500 to $1500 for a VR headset just to participate in Horizon Worlds.
Skeptics argue that the company rebrand is merely an attempt to diffuse rising resentment of Facebook’s dominant position in social media.5 While such a rebrand may help public perception of Meta, it is unlikely to have a major impact on the antitrust investigations the company is facing. In Europe, both the British government and the European Commission have been pursuing antitrust charges against Meta.6
More importantly, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission sued Facebook in 2020, alleging the company illegally maintained its social media monopoly through anticompetitive practices.7 The lawsuit, which is ongoing and has survived early legal challenges from Meta, explicitly seeks to break up Meta by forcing it to sell off Instagram and WhatsApp.8
Meta had revenues of nearly $118 billion in 2021.9 While Facebook is by far Meta’s biggest source of revenue, Instagram reportedly contributes about one quarter of Meta’s revenue.10 WhatsApp, though a relatively negligible source of revenue, is not just arguably the second-largest social media app after Facebook itself, but a key part of Meta’s future advertising strategy.11 Though Meta continues to be highly profitable through Facebook advertising revenues, Meta reported its first decrease in Facebook usership as of 2022.12 Meta’s stock price also fell by -60% in 2022. Facebook has a hard time maintaining usage among younger demographics and can no longer acquire other social networks without stoking antitrust allegations.13 Without Instagram and WhatsApp, the company’s future growth potential would be in doubt.
Mark Zuckerberg, who remains the CEO and controlling shareholder of Meta, has justified the company’s radical pivot to virtual reality by arguing that the metaverse is going to be “fundamentally important to the future” and that “it’s just not clear, if we weren’t driving this forward that anyone else would be.”14 The pivot has cost Meta key personnel, including John Carmack, who expressed his dissatisfaction with the “efficiency” of the company’s VR development.15 Carmack was a high-profile ally for Meta; an early pioneer in 3D graphics and video gaming, his first company invented the first-person shooter game in the 1990s, and Carmack later cofounded Oculus in 2013.
While inviting skepticism from both inside and outside the company, Zuckerberg is a live player who has correctly identified a need to innovate how Meta’s users interact online. Simultaneously, hardware is also in need of innovation. Smartphone, tablet, and computer designs have largely homogenized, with new releases providing incremental improvements on previous models.
It is difficult to reinvent a platform when its user base is saturated and the hardware it runs on is static; Zuckerberg’s proposition is to move beyond the formats of websites, apps, and screens altogether, granting users a more powerful experience of immersion instead of intermittent exposure, and thus determining the direction of the internet to come. This immersive type of content distribution would also benefit advertisers, with marketplaces for virtual clothing, real estate, and events built in.
Although Meta’s forays into building a metaverse have fallen flat so far, it would be a mistake to confuse Horizon Worlds with Zuckerberg’s ultimate goals. Since acquiring Oculus in 2014, Facebook and then Meta have made a number of moves that indicate the metaverse isn’t merely a marketing ploy. For example, Meta has funded research into noninvasive brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) that would allow users to type using only their thoughts. In 2019, it paid between $500 million to $1 billion to acquire the startup CTRL-Labs, which develops wrist-wearable BCIs that interpret hand gestures to control a computer. Meta now advocates for large-scale upgrades to telecommunications infrastructure to become “metaverse-ready.” The company has spent $36 billion on Reality Labs since 2019.16
Rather than a marketing ploy, it appears that the metaverse is a vision statement for a massive R&D project to which Zuckerberg has committed his company. The ultimate goal is to develop the physical hardware that would make a virtual world both appealing and affordable to billions of people. From where the hardware is now, that means solving a large number of difficult technical problems, including, for example, how to eliminate the need for multiple input devices or how to greatly increase visual resolution on headsets. With Facebook’s advertising profits and Zuckerberg’s personal commitment, such a project has the funding and long-term strategy that are prerequisites for success.
Mark Zuckerberg appears motivated by a desire to maintain and expand his business empire. Though he seems to have genuine personal enthusiasm for social media and virtual reality, he does not seem to have strong ideological commitments and is deliberately nonpartisan.17 The closest he comes to stating an ideological commitment is by expressing beliefs such as that open online communication is a human right.18
Rather, like Jeff Bezos or Terry Gou, Zuckerberg is an empire-builder who inherently enjoys winning business struggles and is not averse to sacrificing profits for the sake of growth or the preservation of his company. After he declined to sell Facebook to Yahoo! in 2006, he notably stated that he wanted to run a social network so badly that if the sale went through he would simply use the money to build another one.19 In the metaverse, it seems that Zuckerberg has found a new type of empire that he wants to build, this time with the full weight of Meta’s immense financial and technical resources behind it.
Market Saturation Necessitates Pivots in Strategy
Mark Zuckerberg has been aggressive about competition from the start, even when what would become Meta was just an online college directory called TheFacebook. Before TheFacebook’s launch in 2004, Zuckerberg had reportedly made a verbal agreement with a group of fellow Harvard students to launch a similar product collaboratively. By launching TheFacebook alone, he had not only broken the deal but was alleged to have infringed on their intellectual property. When the campus newspaper picked up the story and began investigating, Zuckerberg used data from TheFacebook to hack the editors’ email accounts and figure out which claims would be included.20
Within a year Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to move TheFacebook to Silicon Valley, where it received its first major cash injection, $500,000 from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, which also put Thiel on the company’s board. Previous small investments had come from other Harvard students, but in 2005 Facebook secured millions from Accel Partners and Breyer Capital. Facebook’s expansion allowed it to launch to other Ivy League universities, select companies, and then to open registration as of 2006.
It launched a developer platform in 2007 which attracted major shareholders like Microsoft, and in 2009 launched brand pages that made it profitable for the first time and turned it into a valuable advertising tool. Facebook turned down acquisition offers from Viacom ($75 million), Yahoo! ($1 billion), and Microsoft ($24 billion, according to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer), with Zuckerberg commenting that the open flow of information facilitated by the platform made it worth more than any offers that came in.21 This is a strong and early indication of Zuckerberg’s preference for empire-building over money.
In a 2008 email, Zuckerberg stated that “it’s better to buy than to compete,” and this strategy informed Facebook’s expansion in the years to come.22 It acquired Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, followed by WhatsApp for $19 billion and Oculus VR for $2 billion, both in 2014. The acquisition of WhatsApp put a massive network of new users—450 million people disproportionately outside the United States—under Facebook’s control and removed the threat of the company developing into a social media competitor. The Instagram acquisition was a bid to retain control over users who had quit Facebook.23
This collection of apps gave the company an unprecedented pool of users for targeted advertising, which it had developed under the direction of COO Sheryl Sandberg since 2008. Meta is profitable chiefly because of ads—as of 2021, it generated 97.5% of its revenue from ad sales.24 To maintain its status as the preferred platform for advertisers it has employed bold pivots in strategy. For example, beginning in 2015, Facebook changed its News Feed algorithm to prioritize native short-form video over written content and video from offsite sources like YouTube, with the rationale that it secures more screen time which translates to more ad impressions and revenue for publishers.
In fact, Meta wanted to prioritize native video to push Google’s YouTube out of the ad market. The pivot to video, despite predating TikTok’s video-heavy interface by a few years, relied on faulty viewership metrics and sank a number of traditional publishers who had to restructure to stay competitive, but then found that video did not generate enough revenue.25 The dominance of video in the News Feed also coincided with declines in likes, shares, and original user posts.26 The new format may have in fact discouraged users from interacting with the platform.
Simultaneously, Facebook came under extensive criticism by U.S. elites in media and government regarding polarization on the platform during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Meta had few meaningful avenues left for attracting new users, but needed to win over existing ones to keep its ad revenue consistent. Subsequent algorithm adjustments prioritized interpersonal content over content from media outlets.
A 2018 attempt at bringing the platform’s social functions back to the forefront came from Portal, an iPad-like peripheral for video calling, but this never caught on with consumers despite being technically advanced, and was discontinued.27 The rising popularity of TikTok further accelerated the need for a robust user retention plan. Meta would require another pivot to maintain user engagement growth.
Horizon Worlds Falls Short of Metaverse Marketing
In 2017, Andrew Bosworth, formerly in charge of Facebook’s mobile advertising division, was moved to a management position with Oculus, which was interpreted as a sign that expansion was underway. In 2018, four years after acquisition, Oculus lead Jason Rubin sent a fifty-page document to Facebook’s leadership in which he outlined his blueprint for the technology under Meta: although Oculus had allowed Meta to cater to early adopters of VR technology with its Rift headset, the investment would not be profitable if it continued to rely on such a small subset of users. They would need to expand, bringing VR to mainstream markets in order to preemptively shut out potential competitors in both hardware and software.28
Over the following years Meta reorganized toward this goal. Oculus launched its more advanced Quest headset in 2019, and Meta acquired VR game studio Beat Games. Spending on Oculus, which was rebranded as Reality Labs in 2020, increased to 8.5% of Meta’s investments in 2021 and 20% in 2022.29 Though Meta had previewed a mockup of a metaverse-like augmented reality (AR) application as early as 2016, Meta’s Horizon Worlds was launched as a trial version in 2019, with beta tests slowly rolled out to additional users through 2021. Andrew Bosworth had reservations about the product even at this late stage; he feared that Horizon Worlds lacked social features that would encourage users to join.30 The term “metaverse” was incorporated into Meta’s branding as of 2021 with the company’s name change.
A white paper commissioned by Meta defines the metaverse as the “successor” to the internet of today, an embodied experience that uses VR and haptic technology to simulate full sensory immersion in a digital environment. Instead of having individual accounts on individual websites that contain site-specific assets, items in the metaverse, like clothing for user avatars, are supposed to be standardized and transferable from one platform to another.31 Meta’s literature characterizes the metaverse as a borderless democratization of internet usage that allows for actual ownership of assets, similar to non-fungible tokens (NFTs) though not explicitly designated as such.
There is not currently an “open world” element to the metaverse and it remains to be seen how one could be built. Horizon Worlds is a closed platform with other services licensed in—currently, Microsoft and Adobe offer a limited suite of products within Horizon Worlds’ boundaries, along with Meta-developed apps that let users design their own Horizon Worlds assets, real estate, and games. Entertainment licensing is expected to bring partners like NBCUniversal aboard.
The result is a metaverse in an awkward nascency, with many potential use cases, but not enough realized ones. Use cases provided by Meta span from gaming to telework to watching streaming services on screens displayed within a 3D digital environment—activities more easily accomplished through established internet browsers or smartphones. The company is still developing the kind of fine-tuned haptic technology that would enable capabilities necessary for true immersion, like VR touch typing, instead shipping the latest Quest Pro headset with handheld joysticks.32
Given that VR headsets are expensive and cumbersome, and have issues with people who wear prescription glasses, Meta is building Horizon Worlds onramps for web and mobile, which use Facebook and Instagram to host content of users’ Horizon Worlds avatars, along with smart glasses that can upload to Instagram. Usership remains low both in Horizon Worlds and in other metaverse applications.33 Meta avoids publicizing its Quest sales figures, indicating that they are lower than anticipated. The version of the metaverse that Meta has brought to market seems premature or exploratory, and there is little way of knowing when—or if—users will embrace it.
It is possible to interpret the progression of technology as building toward a version of personal computing similar to the metaverse. Over time, devices have gotten smaller and more portable. Desktops progressed to laptops, then smartphones, smartwatches, and peripherals. Wearables such as smartwatches have become increasingly common, with Meta even attempting to develop its own smartwatch; the project was ultimately shut down in favor of metaverse development.34
To date, both the Quest headset and Horizon Worlds are a step backward under this paradigm. While early smartphones combined a computer, camera, telephone and audio player into a single portable device, current iterations of the metaverse have a difficult time incorporating existing functionalities, both in terms of physical constraints—a headset is large, which makes mobility difficult, and only has a battery life of a few hours—and possibilities offered. It remains to be seen why users would watch TV in the metaverse, for example, when they could simply watch TV.
At the moment, Meta is asking users to opt into a less functional product than what already exists. For all the massive investments and cutting-edge hardware, the current offering is essentially a less appealing version of Second Life, a 2003 video game which provided most of the features promised by Horizon Worlds, except on a desktop rather than in VR. From a business standpoint, it makes little sense to bet an immense company like Meta on this, something which skeptics have been quick to point out. But Meta’s ultimate goal does not seem to be Horizon Worlds as it stands, but rather a far more technically advanced product that is in all likelihood years away from market.
Zuckerberg’s Ultimate Vision for Virtual Reality
Meta’s Reality Labs grew out of the company’s 2014 Oculus acquisition but also had Meta’s DARPA-inspired skunkworks integrated into it.35 The division’s far-future outlook of designing for “the next computing platform” makes it clear that Horizon Worlds is an exploratory step toward a more immersive and intuitive technology.36 For example, one such Reality Labs priority is developing VR communications that are as fast and informationally dense as speech—the current mode of communication in VR—but as quiet as typing.
Since VR already requires users to interact with one cumbersome wearable device, Reality Labs’ goal is to eliminate additional handheld peripherals like joysticks, gloves, and keyboards in favor of passive wearables that operate using neurological or muscular controls, and are enhanced by computationally intensive predictive algorithms. In Zuckerberg’s own words, “few of the things that we physically have in the world actually need to be physical.”37
Beginning in 2017, Reality Labs began work on experimental brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) in partnership with the University of California, San Francisco. The project culminated in 2021 with a medical patient, who was normally unable to speak, being able to communicate just by thinking, using a set of fifty words as interpreted by an implanted microelectrode array.38
Separately, as part of the same project, Reality Labs designed a noninvasive BCI that uses infrared light to pick up on neurological responses, which could potentially be mounted on a VR headset.39 Both cases incorporated linguistic algorithms to increase accuracy. Meta is clear that it does not intend to sell invasive BCIs and that the project was mostly for proof of concept. It has been sunsetted since 2021 due to Meta’s conclusion that the technology had no current path to viability.40
Instead, Reality Labs is now focusing on a wrist-mounted wearable. Adapted from the technology of the startup CTRL-Labs, which Meta acquired in 2019 for an estimated $500 million to $1 billion, the wearable uses micro-gestures for browsing, with predictive algorithms customizing the set of gestural cues to each user.41 This is expected to be more achievable in the near term and more compatible with existing technology. The wrist wearable interprets electrical signals flowing from the brain to the hand through the wrist. Meta’s goal is to lay the groundwork for a world in which such thought-interpreting wearables are normalized, constantly transmitting and calibrating as users interact with VR.42
Throughout Reality Labs’ literature, there is a preoccupation with upgrading telecommunications infrastructure. Meta repeatedly makes the claim that most telecommunications infrastructure would not be able to support widespread metaverse use, and has called on telecommunications providers to future-proof their infrastructure accordingly.43 It has also initiated limited partnerships in order to speed this process along, such as the 10% stake it acquired in Indian mobile network operator Jio in 2020. A division called Meta Connectivity is tasked with moving this process along.44
Despite Horizon Worlds having some backend limitations around the number of players it can accommodate in one setting, at first glance it should not be more computationally intensive or data-intensive than, for example, the current generation of online video games, which have more detailed graphics and are able to run on existing Wi-Fi networks without issue. As telecom companies roll out 5G networks, this should also make connectivity less of an obstacle over time.
This is rather a clue to the scale of Meta’s ambitions. According to Meta, the goal is to reduce latency—the delay between data transfer—by an order of magnitude from the current standard of about 100 milliseconds for video calls or 30 milliseconds for online games.45 This is because infinitesimal latency is necessary “for an experience of truly ‘being there’” and pre-downloading visual assets and data, like you would for most computer games and which might require a few hours, is an unacceptable impingement on immersion.
Moreover, the metaverse would not just be accessible over a Wi-Fi connection, but accessible anywhere, on the go, via cellular towers and for millions of people simultaneously. While current telecommunications infrastructure can reliably achieve this level of coverage and simultaneity for activities such as streaming a 720p-resolution video on a smartphone, Meta envisions that its future VR headsets will need resolutions “orders of magnitude larger, beyond even 4K resolutions.”46
Horizon Worlds, as it exists today, does not require the dramatic increases in telecommunications bandwidth that Meta desires. However, the ideal metaverse that the company envisions seems like it will eventually require each user to be accompanied by wearable devices that perpetually interpret detailed neurological and muscular signals and transmit them to Meta’s servers, while Meta’s servers stream extremely high definition graphics back to them, all with imperceptible latency while on the go and for millions if not billions of people simultaneously. In this case, a campaign to upgrade telecommunications infrastructure perhaps makes sense.
In 2022, Zuckerberg installed Reality Labs head Andrew Bosworth as Meta’s new CTO.47 The move comes as other key figures are departing, such as gaming luminary and Oculus cofounder John Carmack, who resigned in December 2022. Longtime COO Sheryl Sandberg also left Meta in 2022. Sandberg, who was headhunted from Google in Meta’s early years, helped build Meta into the advertising giant it is today. The common conception of Sandberg is that she was the level-headed counterweight to Zuckerberg; she handled the company’s bureaucracy while he handled the speculative ideas.
Sandberg’s role with the company had shrunk in recent years.48 Meanwhile, Zuckerberg brought on more allies including CPO Chris Cox, an early Facebook programmer who temporarily left the company in 2019 over disagreements regarding product design.49 With Sandberg out, power is increasingly concentrated with Zuckerberg. New COO Javier Olivan, a former lead for Facebook’s international expansion, may have been selected for the role in order to reorient operations toward metaverse expansion.
At present, it seems hard to imagine that the metaverse will grow into the $3 trillion industry that Meta-commissioned analysts have predicted.50 But Mark Zuckerberg has proven more than willing to risk a portion of Meta’s profits to find out. The fact that the company is still so profitable, posting $6.7 billion in profits in 2022 despite its losses on metaverse tech, means it is well-positioned to set the pace for the industry. Even if Meta ultimately fails to actualize its most ambitious visions for virtual reality, it seems likely to produce significant progress in VR technology and BCIs. Whether these are ultimately valuable enough to replace the growth prospects of Meta’s social networks is an open question.
Jacob Kastrenakes and Alex Heath, “Facebook is spending at least $10 billion this year on its metaverse division,” The Verge, October 25, 2021, https://www.theverge.com/2021/10/25/22745381/facebook-reality-labs-10-billion-metaverse
Kashmir Hill, “This Is Life in the Metaverse,” The New York Times, October 7, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/07/technology/metaverse-facebook-horizon-worlds.html.
Jeff Horwitz, Salvador Rodriguez, and Meghan Bobrowsky, “Company Documents Show Meta’s Flagship Metaverse Falling Short,” The Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/meta-metaverse-horizon-worlds-zuckerberg-facebook-internal-documents-11665778961; Kashmir Hill, “This Is Life in the Metaverse,” The New York Times, October 7, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/07/technology/metaverse-facebook-horizon-worlds.html
Andrew Ross Sorkin et al., “Could a New Name Help Facebook After All?,” The New York Times, November 10, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/29/business/dealbook/facebook-meta-rebranding.html
Samuel Stolton, “EU to hit Facebook with new antitrust charges,” Politico, November 9, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/facebook-to-face-eu-antitrust-charge-sheet-for-marketplace-abuses/
See the FTC’s press release here: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/news/press-releases/2020/12/ftc-sues-facebook-illegal-monopolization
Gilad Edelman, “The Antitrust Case Against Facebook Draws Blood,” WIRED, January 12, 2022, https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-ftc-antitrust-non-price-theory/
See Meta’s 2021 annual report here: https://s21.q4cdn.com/399680738/files/doc_financials/annual_reports/2023/2021-Annual-Report.pdf
Ashley Carman, “Instagram brought in $20 billion in ad revenue last year, more than a quarter of Facebook’s earnings,” The Verge, February 4, 2020, https://www.theverge.com/2020/2/4/21122956/instagram-ad-revenue-earnings-amount-facebook
Leah Collins, “How WhatsApp grew from near-failed app to Meta’s next monetization push,” CNBC, August 19, 2022, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/08/18/how-whatsapp-grew-from-near-failed-app-to-metas-next-monetization-push.html
Felix Richter, “Has Facebook Reached Its Growth Limit?” Statista, July 28, 2022, https://www.statista.com/chart/5380/facebook-user-engagement.
S. Dixon, “Share of Facebook users in the United States as of December 2022, by age group,” Statista, January 9, 2023, https://www.statista.com/statistics/187549/facebook-distribution-of-users-age-group-usa.
Ryan Mac, “Meta’s Profit Slides by More Than 50 Percent as Challenges Mount,” The New York Times, October 26, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/26/technology/meta-facebook-q3-earnings.html.
Jay Peters and Sean Hollister, “John Carmack is leaving Meta,” The Verge, December 16, 2022, https://www.theverge.com/2022/12/16/23513622/john-carmack-leaving-meta-virtual-reality-oculus-cto.
Grace Dean, “Meta Pumps $36b into Metaverse, VR,” Business Insider, October 29, 2022, https://www.businessinsider.com/charts-meta-metaverse-spending-losses-reality-labs-vr-mark-zuckerberg-2022-10
Deepa Seetharaman and Emily Glazer, “How Mark Zuckerberg Learned Politics,” The Wall Street Journal, October 16, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-mark-zuckerberg-learned-politics-11602853200.
Mark Zuckerberg, “Mark Zuckerberg: Is Connectivity a Human Right?” Meta, August 21, 2013, https://about.fb.com/news/2013/08/mark-zuckerberg-is-connectivity-a-human-right.
Kate Duffy, “When Yahoo offered $1 billion to buy Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg said he wouldn't know what to do with the money and would probably just build another Facebook, a new book says,” Insider, July 14, 2021, https://www.businessinsider.com/an-ugly-truth-mark-zuckerberg-facebook-yahoo-offer-money-book-2021-7.
Zuckerberg’s legal settlement with the claimants ultimately launched the entrepreneurial careers of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, founders of Winklevoss Capital Management and the cryptocurrency exchange Gemini. Nicholas Carson, “In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg Broke Into A Facebook User's Private Email Account,” Insider, March 11, 2010, https://www.businessinsider.com/how-mark-zuckerberg-hacked-into-the-harvard-crimson-2010-3.
Zuckerberg did not make the decision not to sell to Yahoo! unilaterally as many sources suggest, but was instead on the fence and counseled not to by early Facebook investor Roger McNamee. “Face-to-Face with Mark Zuckerberg '02,” Phillips Exeter Academy, January 24, 2007, https://web.archive.org/web/20120202181919/http://www.exeter.edu/news_and_events/news_events_5594.aspx.
“Federal Trade Commission vs. Facebook Inc.,” U.S. Federal Trade Commission, August 19, 2021, https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/20421891/facebook-ftc-complaint.pdf.
Casey Newton and Nilay Patel, “‘Instagram can hurt us’: Mark Zuckerberg emails outline plan to neutralize competitors,” The Verge, July 29, 2020, https://www.theverge.com/2020/7/29/21345723/facebook-instagram-documents-emails-mark-zuckerberg-kevin-systrom-hearing.
“Meta Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2021 Results,” Meta, February 2, 2022, https://web.archive.org/web/20220203054608/https://s21.q4cdn.com/399680738/files/doc_financials/2021/q4/FB-12.31.2021-Exhibit-99.1-Final.pdf.
Heidi Moore, “The secret cost of pivoting to video,” Columbia Journalism Review, September 26, 2017, https://www.cjr.org/business_of_news/pivot-to-video.php.
Keach Hagey and Jeff Horwitz, “Facebook Tried to Make Its Platform a Healthier Place. It Got Angrier Instead,” The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-algorithm-change-zuckerberg-11631654215.
Stan Schroeder, “Meta gives up on Portal and smartwatch,” Mashable, November 14, 2022, https://mashable.com/article/facebook-meta-gives-up-smartwatch-portal.
Salvador Rodriguez, “Facebook’s Meta mission was laid out in a 2018 paper declaring ‘The Metaverse is ours to lose’,” CNBC, October 30, 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/30/facebooks-meta-mission-was-laid-out-in-a-2018-paper-on-the-metaverse.html.
Andrew Bosworth, “Why we still believe in the future,” Meta, December 19, 2022, https://tech.facebook.com/reality-labs/2022/12/boz-look-back-2023-look-ahead.
Scott Stein, “Facebook has VR plans for your virtual office, with smart glasses coming soon,” CNET, January 14, 2021, https://www.cnet.com/tech/computing/facebooks-evolving-plans-for-vr-are-aiming-for-your-virtual-office-with-smartglasses-coming-soon.
Lau Christensen and Alex Robinson, “The Potential Global Economic Impact of the Metaverse,” Analysis Group, 2022, https://www.analysisgroup.com/globalassets/insights/publishing/2022-the-potential-global-economic-impact-of-the-metaverse.pdf.
Adi Robertson, “Meta’s sci-fi haptic glove prototype lets you feel VR objects using air pockets,” The Verge, November 16, 2021, https://www.theverge.com/2021/11/16/22782860/meta-facebook-reality-labs-soft-robotics-haptic-glove-prototype.
Cam Thompson, “It's Lonely in the Metaverse: DappRadar Data Suggests Decentraland Has 38 ‘Daily Active’ Users in $1.3B Ecosystem,” CoinDesk, October 7, 2022, https://www.coindesk.com/web3/2022/10/07/its-lonely-in-the-metaverse-decentralands-38-daily-active-users-in-a-13b-ecosystem.
Jon Porter, “Meta reportedly shelves plans for dual-camera smartwatch,” The Verge, June 9, 2022, https://www.theverge.com/2022/6/9/23160921/meta-dual-camera-smartwatch-activity-tracker-metaverse-controller.
Nick Statt, “Facebook acquires neural interface startup CTRL-Labs for its mind-reading wristband,” The Verge, September 23, 2019, https://www.theverge.com/2019/9/23/20881032/facebook-ctrl-labs-acquisition-neural-interface-armband-ar-vr-deal.
“BCI milestone: New research from UCSF with support from Facebook shows the potential of brain-computer interfaces for restoring speech communication,” Meta, July 14, 2021, https://tech.facebook.com/reality-labs/2021/7/bci-milestone-new-research-from-ucsf-with-support-from-facebook-shows-the-potential-of-brain-computer-interfaces-for-restoring-speech-communication.
Kashmir Hill, “This Is Life in the Metaverse,” The New York Times, October 7, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/07/technology/metaverse-facebook-horizon-worlds.html.
David Moses et al., “Neuroprosthesis for Decoding Speech in a Paralyzed Person with Anarthria,” The New England Journal of Medicine, July 15, 2021, https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2027540.
Tekla Perry, “Here's How Facebook's Brain-Computer Interface Development is Progressing,” IEEE Spectrum, February 25, 2020, https://spectrum.ieee.org/heres-how-facebooks-braincomputer-interface-development-is-progressing.
Antonio Regalado, “Facebook is ditching plans to make an interface that reads the brain,” MIT Technology Review, July 14, 2021, https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/07/14/1028447/facebook-brain-reading-interface-stops-funding.
Scott Stein, “Behind the Doors of Meta's Top-Secret Reality Labs,” CNET, October 11, 2022, https://www.cnet.com/tech/computing/behind-the-doors-of-metas-top-secret-reality-labs.
Dan Rabinovitsj, “The next big connectivity challenge: Building metaverse-ready networks,” Meta, February 27, 2022, https://tech.facebook.com/ideas/2022/2/metaverse-ready-networks.
Sheera Frenkel et al., “How Facebook Is Morphing Into Meta,” The New York Times, January 31, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/31/technology/facebook-meta-change.html.
Parmy Olson, “Sheryl Sandberg Is Leaving Facebook at a Perilous Moment,” The Washington Post, June 4, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/sheryl-sandberg-is-leaving-facebook-at-aperilous-moment/2022/06/01/a80be3f4-e20c-11ec-ae64-6b23e5155b62_story.html.
Mike Isaac, “As Mark Zuckerberg Tightens Grip on Facebook, 2 Top Deputies Leave,” The New York Times, March 14, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/14/technology/facebook-chris-cox.html.
This figure includes Meta’s Horizon Worlds and other products. Lau Christensen and Alex Robinson, “The Potential Global Economic Impact of the Metaverse,” Analysis Group, 2022, https://www.analysisgroup.com/globalassets/insights/publishing/2022-the-potential-global-economic-impact-of-the-metaverse.pdf.