Zuckerberg says Meta is not giving up on metaverse ambition; hints at AR/VR investments at annual Connect conference

Despite a massive loss of $13.7 billion in 2022 and a public shift and interest in artificial intelligence, Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the social giant remains committed to the metaverse and isn’t giving up on the metaverse ambition anytime soon.

In an earnings call back in July, Zuckerberg said: “Our investments in AI continue. We remain fully committed to the Metaverse vision as well. We’ve been working on both of these two major priorities for many years in parallel now, and in many ways the two areas are overlapping and complementary.”

As we reported late last year, the risky Metaverse bet cost the company billions in market capitalization. Meta was forced to lay off 13% of its total workforce, or more than 11,000 employees. Last year, Meta also lost over $700 billion of its value since its peak as all its business units continue to get pummeled on multiple fronts. As of November 9, 2022, Meta lost 70% of its value as its share price fell from $300 to just $100.

However, Zuckerberg isn’t backing down easily. He sees the path to the metaverse as a long and steady marathon, not a quick sprint. During the July earnings call, Zuckerberg explained:

“This is an ambitious long-term horizon, multi-faceted roadmap. There are lots of components to the Reality Labs portfolio across VR, AR, Metaverse, social platforms, neural interfaces, and we really have a long-term time horizon for evaluating the return on our investments here. I can’t guarantee you that I’m going to be right about this bet. I do think that this is the direction that the world is going in.”

Two months have passed, and Mark Zuckerberg’s stance on the metaverse remains unchanged. In fact, the company is now hinting at increased investments in AR/VR technology, which will be discussed at its upcoming annual Connect conference.

As Reuters reported, Zuckerberg is scheduled to provide investors with updates on his ambitious plan to construct an immersive metaverse. This vision has been presented as the future of computing and is a focal point of Meta’s strategy. Notably, this conference marks Meta’s first in-person event since the beginning of the pandemic.

The revelations at Meta Connect considered the company’s most significant event of the year, will shed light on how Zuckerberg intends to navigate the recent shift in investor interest, Reuters wrote. This shift has seen a transition from augmented and virtual reality technologies to a heightened focus on artificial intelligence.

The stakes for this event are higher, given that investors expressed their concerns last year about the parent company of Facebook and Instagram allocating significant resources to the metaverse. This prompted Zuckerberg to make the difficult decision of downsizing the workforce by laying off tens of thousands of employees to continue pursuing his metaverse vision.

Meanwhile, developers are eager to explore potential app opportunities for the company’s latest hardware like the new Quest virtual reality headset coming this fall. Meanwhile, investors are looking for signs that Meta’s significant investments, which have resulted in over $40 billion in losses since 2021, might start paying off.

A central focus of the event will be AI-powered virtual assistants with distinct personalities, set to be integrated into Meta’s apps, according to insider sources. The Wall Street Journal had previously reported on the plan to introduce generative AI chatbots at Connect.

Additionally, Meta has fulfilled a previously announced plan from last year by launching mobile and web versions of its primary social VR platform, Horizon Worlds. It’s worth noting that they’ve also quietly expanded the capabilities of their virtual reality avatars, allowing them to have full-body representation, a development highlighted by the industry blog Upload VR.

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