Gif: Surreal Leisure/YouTube

Effectively, Meta positive is in a little bit of a large number. The corporate previously referred to as Fb rang in its one-year anniversary final week however had little or no cause to have a good time. As a substitute, an unlucky Q3 earnings report confirmed that, since its inception final October, the corporate has misplaced a gargantuan sum of money in its quest to create “the metaverse”—a hypothetical new realm the place it desires all of us to dwell.

How did we find yourself right here, precisely?

It began twelve months in the past, when, within the warmth of a whistleblower scandal, it seemed like Congress would possibly truly crack down on Fb. Leaked paperwork—what got here to be referred to as the Fb Papers—had revealed the corporate’s dangerous impression on younger folks, its ineptitude with misinformation, and its algorithmic toxicity. Consequently, regulation speak was afoot. U.S. Representatives had been threatening antitrust motion and activists had been demanding a break up. Issues had been wanting fairly dangerous.

It was then that a thunderclap of inspiration should’ve struck over a Menlo Park boardroom someplace: if issues had been getting too scorching to deal with in the actual world, why couldn’t Fb merely invent a new world? Yesss…a brand new world—this could possibly be the pivot of a lifetime! And hey, the corporate had modified the principles of the sport earlier than—it may undoubtedly innovate its means out of this.

Thus, after a gathering I’m positive resembled some watered down model of that “change the dialog” scene from Mad Males, The Fb Firm grew to become “Meta Platforms” and one thing known as the “metaverse” was born.

What was the metaverse? Zuck and his cohort envisioned a bold digitization of our world—supported by hardware and infrastructure that hadn’t been built yet. It would be fueled by investments in the most emergent and exciting technologies, from virtual reality to augmented reality to holograms to cryptocurrency. As the leader of a push to transform the digital economy, Meta could be a pioneer—an explorer going where no tech firm had gone before. Sure, in a lot of cases, the tech wasn’t quite there yet to actually build this world, but, in the meantime, such shortcomings could be obscured via promoting and animation and hyperbolic rhetoric. All of this could possibly be used to sorta…paint the image of what the metaverse would appear to be sometime…possibly.

Anyway, what did it matter? The purpose was this: the corporate needed to do one thing huge to make folks take a look at it otherwise—and this was it.

Sure, Fb’s transformation into Meta at all times needed to be two issues without delay: a determined optics shift and a real redirect in enterprise technique. Perhaps the corporate had at all times envisioned broader investments in AR/VR however disaster compelled it to speed up? We don’t actually know. What we do know is that the corporate’s huge pivot to a spot known as the “metaverse” appears to have solely prompted it extra complications over the previous yr: particularly, billions spent on doubtful investments, plummeting earnings, apprehensive buyers, and a slew of hackneyed digital merchandise that folks don’t truly wish to use. In a phrase, Meta’s “first yr” has been horrible.

Will issues get higher? That’s unclear. Zuck actually thinks so, although others have their doubts. We determined to have a look again on the previous twelve months to focus on key occasions involving “the metaverse”—an imagined place that Meta has promised to construct however that, so far as we are able to inform, nonetheless doesn’t exist but.


Our story begins at the hours of darkness days of early October, 2021, when the corporate referred to as Fb is besieged on all sides. Frances Haugen, a former worker turned traitorous whistleblower, has leaked intensive documentation of the corporate’s sins to the press. The Fb Papers, first reported by the Wall Road Journal, expose a raft of issues: antitrust points, privateness points, psychological well being points—the checklist appears infinite. In the meantime, a bunch of longstanding issues (authorized complaints, public mistrust, congressional inquiries) compound to put ever higher strain on what was as soon as the glistening jewel of Silicon Valley.

However then, the pivot happens. On Oct. 28, after weeks of scandal, Zuck pronounces that Fb, which appears to have been making lots of people offended currently, isn’t truly Fb anymore. Certain, Fb, the platform, nonetheless exists, however now it’s owned by a brand new firm (or, relatively…the outdated firm…with a brand new title) known as Meta. This Meta is an thrilling place to be, not a foul, scary place like Fb! Certainly, it’s such a cool place, that it’s going to dedicate itself to exploring a brand new digital realm you’ll wanna take a look at, known as “the metaverse.”

What’s the metaverse? It’s not a brand new or unique idea. In actual fact, it was initially conceived of by science fiction writers a long time in the past. In recent times, craven tech corporations have been champing on the bit to make it an actual factor that they will monetize, and Meta desires to be the chief of the pack.

In October, the corporate releases a stultifying 88-minute video with Zuck to assist the general public higher perceive this entire idea:

Introducing Meta

When you skipped the video, the concept is to place everyone inside a large digital world that appears like our personal. On this world you’ll have an avatar that appears similar to you and, since you’ll mainly be dwelling in a large online game, you’ll be capable to do no matter you need.

How do you truly construct the metaverse? When you’re an organization like Meta/Fb, the reply is: shoot fucktons of funding into new AR/VR {hardware} and technological developments, whereas additionally growing purposes and instruments that broaden the attraction of VR/AR. Fb has already been investing in this kind of factor for years (its 2014 acquisition of Oculus and the launch of subsequent headsets and video games present that) however now it’s determined to turbo cost the spending. In some sense, which means Fb/Meta is mainly making an attempt to flip itself from a social media and messaging firm right into a social-messaging-and-gaming firm, since a majority of VR/AR applied sciences are presently simply an extension of the online game business. Nonetheless, Zuck and fam declare that they’re seeking to develop the attraction of those merchandise past video games—probably to an infinite diploma. Which means discovering “metaverse” purposes for issues like enterprise, leisure, training, communication, athletics, and extra. The message is mainly: We’re constructing the matrix! That is Prepared Participant One! It’s occurring rn!

Does the metaverse exist but? Nope, however it’ll sometime quickly! Meta execs inform us: simply you wait and see.


Okay! The massive pivot into the metaverse has begun. As the corporate embarks on its lengthy journey in direction of the imaginary world it desires to create, occasions in the actual world proceed to trigger it strife (learn: a new lawsuit, a brand new congressional inquiry, and an order from European regulators to dump its gif empire). The corporate additionally runs into some bother with its title, discovering that it should shell out thousands and thousands of {dollars} to varied corporations which have already licensed the title “Meta” if it desires a branding monopoly on that phrase. However certainly these are simply rising pains! Good issues lie forward.

In the meantime, a smart-ass animator drops this video lampooning the metaverse and Zuck’s weird love of Candy Child Ray’s BBQ sauce. It’s humorous but additionally sorta scary. Like, this doesn’t appear that far fetched, truly:

Metaverse VR: Demo Expertise


December sees the launch of a flagship metaverse product, Horizon Worlds. Worlds is a free, digital actuality online game, suitable with Meta’s Oculus Rift and Oculus Quest 2 VR headsets, that’s meant as a “ever-expanding social universe.” It’s apparent the corporate hopes that Worlds will get folks fascinated with all the probabilities that the metaverse has to supply. Nevertheless, critiques of the sport are decidedly blended, with PC World calling it “positive,” and Kotaku calling it a “hole, company shell” that doesn’t resemble “any kind of social area a human being would willingly wish to hand around in.”

Assembly Strangers within the METAVERSE… | Horizon Worlds (Quest 2)

Whilst Meta trots out Worlds to exhibit its pivot, controversies from its previous persist: the corporate is compelled to confess that, for years, personal surveillance companies used Fb and Instagram to spy on customers—some 50,000 folks. In the meantime, members of the Rohingya, an embattled ethnic and non secular minority primarily based in Myanmar, sue Meta for $150 billion, alleging that its web sites helped the federal government’s genocidal marketing campaign in opposition to them.


Meta has a quiet month, apart from its bizarre unveiling of a supercomputer that it claims will assist construct the metaverse—although it’s obscure on the main points as to “how.” In the meantime, plenty of different corporations start hopping on the metaverse bandwagon. Walmart claims it, too, desires to get in on the metaverse and says its launching an NFT assortment that can one way or the other qualify. This awkward piling-on from the world’s most horrid mega-retailer one way or the other makes the entire enterprise appear lamer by affiliation.


In an unlucky flip of occasions, Zuck reveals to staff that they need to now refer to one another as “Metamates,” an unequivocally dumb title. In the meantime, a dire warning from the corporate of weaker-than-expected income development in Q1 results in a inventory plummet—and Zuck’s internet price, which is tied to the corporate’s worth, loses $30 billion in a single day. Folks begin speaking about how doomed Meta may be. Additional rain clouds collect as influential Fb board member and abject comedian ebook villain Peter Thiel pronounces he’s stepping down—ostensibly so he can proceed his plan for world domination by way of different enterprise ventures. The Washington Submit darkly means that Horizon Worlds could possibly be utilized by groomers and sexual predators, stunning nobody. To high issues off, it’s revealed that Apple’s proposed privateness modifications will price Meta $10 billion in misplaced promoting income.

MARCH, 2022

Not lengthy after its huge inventory drop, the grim information breaks that Meta will not do staff’ laundry for them. Different onsite perks, like infinite free steak dinners (apparently an actual factor), can even be curtailed. In the meantime, a sluggish churn of creepy ads proceed to goad the general public into believing that, regardless of their higher instincts, they actually do wish to dwell in a digital netherworld developed by this man. Skeptics are compelled to place apart reservations and simply submit already. Nonetheless, the optics aren’t nice. This advert, initially launched in November, has all of the nightmarish delirium of an acid journey gone mistaken:

The Tiger & The Buffalo

APRIL, 2022

Q1 isn’t fairly as dangerous as everyone was anticipating nevertheless it’s not nice. Meta misses its quarterly earnings projection however not by a lot (give or take a billion) and provides some customers. However, sadly, the report additionally reveals that Fb…er, I imply Meta, sorry…has misplaced some huge cash over the previous few years in VR investments, that are presupposed to be the spine of “the metaverse.” They aren’t doing the corporate any favors: Meta has apparently misplaced $20 billion to such investments since 2020. Actuality Labs, Meta’s VR unit, is discovered to have operated in Q1 at a lack of almost $3 billion. Zuck says this sort of loss is all a part of the plan and to only grasp tight whereas they reinvent the wheel.

Within the meantime, the corporate continues to generate a sequence of bizarre merchandise no one requested for: Behold, Zuck Bucks!

Does the metaverse exist but? Nope.

MAY, 2022

After Q1’s middling outcomes, the corporate goes on to launch a video preview of Zuck sporting its upcoming VR headset, dubbed Challenge Cambria (actual title: Quest Professional). Nevertheless, the vid pixelates the headset prefer it’s somebody’s junk on Zuck’s head as an alternative of just a few plastic. The video reveals Zuck interacting with a cartoon animal that appears like a 3D neopet. It’s unclear what the pixels are all about or whether or not it’s important to clear up the cartoon animals’ cartoon poop.

JUNE, 2022

As the nice journey continues, most different information in June is overshadowed by the departure of unique girlboss Sheryl Sandberg, who quits the corporate on June 1. Zuck calls it the “finish of an period.” Critics notice Sandberg’s blended legacy, in addition to the truth that she’s sorta leaving the corporate with its pants down. With Thiel out and now Sandberg, legacy figures appear to be dropping like flies.

Throughout the identical month, Meta introduces a retailer the place you possibly can customise your metaverse avatars. It additionally delays the discharge of the AR-fueled Challenge Nazare, what had been presupposed to be its first metaverse glasses. As a substitute, it launches an integration that allows you to faux such as you’re enjoying a guitar. Distressingly, a report reveals that Meta’s imaginary digital landscapes in Horizon Worlds are already pushing customers to exhibit actually dangerous habits—like simulating sexual assault. Isn’t this the stuff of Westworld?

JULY, 2022

Q2 is when issues begin to get actually furry: the corporate’s earnings report reveals slowed development and its first ever income decline.

Not nice. As critics fear that Meta is on a “Yahoo-like cliff,” the corporate pronounces a 30 % hiring slash and begins looking for lackluster staff to fireplace. Not lengthy afterward, Meta is sued, but once more, by one other firm that claims it stole its title. In the identical month, the FTC pronounces that it desires to dam Meta’s latest acquisition of Inside Limitless, which operates a well-liked VR health app known as Supernatural. The FTC’s argument? Meta already owns an excessive amount of metaverse stuff and will cease being such a hog. “As a substitute of competing on the deserves, Meta is making an attempt to purchase its method to the highest,” says FTC Bureau of Competitors Deputy Director John Newman. “Meta already owns a best-selling digital actuality health app, and it had the capabilities to compete much more intently with Inside’s common Supernatural app. However Meta selected to purchase market place as an alternative of incomes it on the deserves. That is an unlawful acquisition, and we’ll pursue all applicable reduction.”

Does the metaverse exist but? Regardless of all Meta’s acquisitions, the reply is suntil nope.

AUGUST, 2022

Amidst the scorching warmth of summer season Zuck whips out his personal metaverse avatar and wags it on this planet’s face. It’s—as one Kotaku author put it—“boring, drab, generic, and actually shitty.” Different apt descriptions embody: “worldwide laughingstock,” “so silly,” and “correct in comparison with the actual Zuck: the identical useless eyes, the identical delicate pores and skin.” Briefly: billions of {dollars} of funding have made Zuck’s meta-self appear to be a Sims character circa 2000. What provides? Is that this actually the horny alternate actuality we’re all presupposed to be enthusiastic about?

Zuckerberg metaverse slammed for ugly graphics

That very same month, the corporate additionally releases Meta Horizon Groups, an interactive “area” that’s supposed to assist businesspeople work higher collectively. In response to Meta, when you strap certainly one of its Meta Quest 2s in your head ($399.99), you should utilize it speak to different distant co-workers and likewise do stuff like write on a digital white board. Sadly, it’s unclear why that is higher (learn: cheaper/simpler) than simply utilizing Zoom?


Meta acquires Lofelt, a haptics startup primarily based in Berlin. Haptic tech is the subject of replicating the phantasm of tactile sensations—in any other case referred to as contact. Meta clearly hopes that this funding will sometime repay by growing merchandise that horrifyingly make you’re feeling such as you’re within the precise matrix. In the meantime, amidst worsening financial headwinds, a slew of scandals nip on the tech large’s heels: Instagram is fined $400 million for its mishandling of youngsters’s knowledge in Europe; the corporate’s personal report says that it harmed Palestinian customers’ civil rights; Amnesty Worldwide accuses the tech large of “considerably contributing” to the ethnic cleaning of the Rohyinga in Myanmar.


Now we arrive within the current—a most unlucky place to be when you’re Meta. The Q3 earnings report is scheduled for the tip of the month and, in what looks as if a push to move off any dangerous information, Meta launches a bunch of recent merchandise. The Quest Professional (bear in mind the pixelated factor on Zuck’s head?) is lastly launched, boasting a number of the most superior tech to this point. Some critics prefer it nevertheless it’s additionally a whopping $1500, making it exterior the value vary of most folk. Oculus additionally pushes out a VR multi-player app known as Wooorld that allows you to faux you’re in poorly animated variations of well-known cities.

Regardless of new releases, dangerous information can’t be prevented. Within the final week of October, the Q3 report reveals that that is actually the darkest timeline and the corporate has misplaced some $700 billion in market worth through the previous yr—its inventory plummeting 67 %. Zuck, himself, has misplaced about $100 billion. The report reveals back-to-back quarterly declines and specialists say extra is anticipated in This autumn. It actually appears to be like like “the metaverse” is generally a spot the place cash evaporates into skinny air. Information retailers start to query whether or not the glacier pale CEO will ever hearken to cause or just run his gajillion greenback firm into the bottom like a failed kamikaze right into a wheat subject.

However Zuck urges persistence. The metaverse is cominggggggg, can’t you see? As proof, throughout the identical month, Meta reveals off a video at an organization occasion the place it boasts that its avatars—which, till this time, have simply been disembodied torsos—will quickly (?) come outfitted with legs and ft. That’s thrilling (?) nevertheless it quickly seems that the video is a sham: a follow-up by a information outlet reveals that, whereas the video appeared to be introduced as if it had been a dwell VR demo, it truly “featured animations created from movement seize.” So, mainly, Meta is out a whole lot of billions of {dollars} and may’t even muster avatars legs…Does the metaverse exist but? Uh…