Has it really been a year since Facebook changed its name to Meta and announced a mad-as-a-bag-of-spiders plan to make us all embrace virtual worlds — the so-called Metaverse — rather than the dilapidated one around us?
Actually no, not quite — but at 11 months and ten days, I think we can get away with rounding up. And a couple of reports over the weekend suggest that not everyone at the company thinks that CEO Mark Zuckerberg is onto another Facebook-style world-beater here.
First up, The Verge published extracts of a series of internal memos from Meta’s VP of Metaverse, Vishal Shah. In them, he seemed to express a degree of frustration that people weren’t interested in the thing it now says on his business cards, as they ignored a company edict that weekly meetings should be held in the Horizon Worlds VR app.
“For many of us, we don’t spend that much time in Horizon and our dogfooding dashboards show this pretty clearly,” Shah wrote in a memo last month.
(If you’re not familiar with the term, “dogfooding” is shorthand for “eating your own dogfood” or using your own products to spot how they could be improved. It’s figurative, and not a sign that standards in the Meta cafeteria have dropped considerably.)
“Why don’t we love the product we’ve built so much that we use it all the time?” Shah continued. “The simple truth is, if we don’t love it, how can we expect our users to love it?”
The obvious answer to that, of course, is “we can’t, so maybe we should do something else.” But not for Shah who pushed harder on September 30, promising to “hold managers accountable” for ensuring that teams hold meetings in Horizon Worlds at least once a week.
“Everyone in this organization should make it their mission to fall in love with Horizon Worlds,” he wrote. “You can’t do that without using it. Get in there. Organize times to do it with your colleagues or friends, in both internal builds but also the public build so you can interact with our community.”
This all ties in neatly with another insider account from the New York Times, which treads similar ground but adds a bit more colour. For example, internally some employees reportedly refer to metaverse projects via the acronym MMH — which stands for “make Mark happy”. After all, wouldn’t employees like to see a smile break out on Mark Zuckerberg’s virtual reality avatar?
Well, maybe not. But you get the idea.
Aside from the fact that Shah’s internal memos suggest all kinds of problems with the software itself (“the aggregate weight of papercuts, stability issues, and bugs is making it too hard for our community to experience the magic of Horizon” he notes at one point), if software is truly transformational, you shouldn’t need to force adoption.
The fact that Meta employees aren’t gravitating to virtual reality natural is a strong indicator that the Metaverse won’t be the next big thing — no matter how many billions of dollars Meta throws at the problem.