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A year later, what has Facebook achieved since its rebranding to Meta?

A year later, what has Facebook achieved since its rebranding to Meta?

A year later, what has Facebook achieved since its rebranding to Meta?
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By CNBCTV18.com Nov 2, 2022 11:54:48 AM IST (Published)

The first sign of trouble was when Meta bid farewell to its stablecoin project, Diem. The project began as Libra in 2019, was rebranded as Diem in December 2020 and was eventually shut down and sold to Silvergate Capital for $200 million in Jan 2022.

While Elon Musk currently holds the internet’s attention as the prophetic transformer of our times, we often forget that Mark Zuckerberg has managed to advance the internet more than any other individual. In 15 years, Mark has gone from a Harvard dropout to a genius innovator, a platform builder, a prolific CEO and a multibillionaire.

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Zuckerberg gave the world Facebook, but that wasn’t the end for him. His next ambition was to break into the world of cryptocurrencies and the Metaverse. He did so quite emphatically, rebranding Facebook to match its future aspirations. And a year after his full throttle into the digital asset and virtual reality industry, let’s look at what Zuckerberg and Meta have accomplished so far.
The pivot
On October 28 last year, the CEO of Facebook announced a rebranding of the company as Meta, denoting its shift in focus to the Metaverse and web3. It took some by surprise, but most people were optimistic, especially considering Zuckerberg’s record of innovation. The company was coming off a share price rally along with other tech giants. The moment seemed ripe, and if there were one person you’d expect to build a trillion-dollar platform, it was Zuckerberg.
The progress
Two months later, in December 2021, Meta debuted its virtual reality social networking project, Horizon Worlds. The metaverse platform allowed users to interact with each other via avatars through virtual reality headsets. Meta also used the launch to push its in-house VR headset, Oculus, which it acquired in 2014 for nearly $2 billion. Around the same time, Meta also opened up crypto and blockchain advertisements on Facebook and Instagram, further indicating its push into the digital asset industry.
Then in May 2022, the company filed a spat of trademark applications for its payments processing platform, Meta Pay. It allows users to complete transactions using cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. The project has been steady, with JP Morgan recently adding Meta Pay as a checkout option for all merchants within its payments network.
A couple of months later, in September 2022, Meta announced that users could link crypto wallets to their Facebook and Instagram accounts and show off their digital collectables on the two social media platforms. Users can now add their NFTs to a collectables folder and share them as regular posts. These NFT posts would have a shimmering effect to differentiate them from regular posts.
More recently, on October 11, Meta partnered with tech giant Microsoft to bring its suite of Office 365 products, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams and Outlook, to its virtual reality (VR) platform. The move is expected to push companies and people to gather and work in a virtual space.
The struggle
While Meta has made significant headway with its endeavours, it has also met several obstacles. When Star Trek gave everyone a glimpse of real-time video calling in 1966, it was a glimpse into the future, but that future was half a century away. That’s precisely the problem when ideating out of fiction; the technology takes a lot of time to catch up with imaginative minds.
With the Metaverse, the vision was of a completely virtual world where people exist as they do in the real world, but without the worries of real life. While it does seem like an obvious future we’re collectively heading towards, the technology is nowhere close to what’s needed to accomplish such a vision.
When Zuckerberg announced Meta’s new direction, audiences globally misunderstood it as an invitation to an already-created platform. There was talk, curiosity, and excitement — but there wasn’t an actual platform. Even with its expensive hardware requirements, the Metaverse was still cartoonish figures unable to do much. Naturally, investors felt let down and thus began the struggles.
The first sign of trouble was when Meta bid farewell to its stablecoin project, Diem. The project began as Libra in 2019, was rebranded as Diem in December 2020 and was eventually shut down and sold to Silvergate Capital for $200 million in Jan 2022. The next Meta project to bite the dust was Novi, a digital wallet for cryptocurrency that Meta debuted in 2021. The project was shuttered down in July 2022, and users were given until Sept to get their crypto balances off the site.
Adding to the pain, Meta lost 55 percent of its share value in 2022, and Zuckerberg himself lost his position among the richest in the world. The company’s metaverse division, Facebook Reality Labs (FRL), has been posting billion-dollar losses throughout this year. The company reported a Q3 loss of $3.7 billion in its latest earnings call. This takes total losses for the year to more than $9 billion. Worse, after the earnings call, Meta’s stock price further plummeted by nearly 25 percent.
The hope
Zuckerberg acknowledges that the vision that was presented was perhaps of what the Metaverse could eventually be instead of what it is presently. Therefore, Meta remains hopeful as they estimate more than a billion people to come into the Metaverse in the coming decade and for it to become a market worth more than $3 trillion by 2031.
The competitors in the space, like Roblox and Decentraland, have also gained good ground. However, even they are struggling with similar issues concerning the lack of regular users on the platforms. Meta has also lowered their goal of 500,000 users a month but is striving to improve the platform. Meta’s partnership with Microsoft to bring more utility tools to the Metaverse remains positive. Instead of perceiving the Metaverse as a gaming platform, the goal is to make it a place for work and everything else.
The criticism
As a listed entity, Meta is responsible for its shareholders and cannot let the stock price go any lower. Criticism from various stakeholders has emerged encouraging Zuckerberg to limit the investments in the Metaverse and focus on the cash-rich assets of Facebook, Instagram & WhatsApp to drive profits.
However, innovators are rarely held back by stock prices as they rise just as fast as they fall. Meta is one of the few entities capable of bringing a fully functional metaverse experience to the masses. Zuckerberg’s leadership can be commended for having a vision of this magnitude and enough conviction to bring it to fruition despite the criticism.
If Zuckerberg manages to deliver on his vision, we’re looking at a success that’s hitherto unheard of. Meta will operate hardware, software, marketplaces and the Metaverse itself, which would drive its success to unimaginable heights. However, only time will tell what comes of these aspirations, but Zuckerberg, Meta and thousands of its investors remain hopeful.
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