Will Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse vision ever materialize? Meta’s Reality Labs burned through $3.99 billion last quarter—around $44 million a day. In total, the division has lost a staggering $30 billion.
Meta’s Q1 2023 saw sales up 3% with its $28.65 billion revenue beating Wall Street analysts’ expectations. But a quick peek into the breakdown showcases staggering losses within Meta’s metaverse-focused Reality Labs division. Reality Labs cost Meta $3.99 billion this quarter alone. Last year, it lost $14 billion as Zuckerberg focused on developing a metaverse to supplement the new work from home culture that has arisen after the pandemic.
Perhaps the only silver lining to this lead cloud is that the losses weren’t as bad as Q4 2022, where it shed $4.3 billion. The darling division of Zuckerberg was hit in some of the 21,000 layoffs that occurred in 2023 during what has been labeled the company’s “year of efficiency.” The problem with the metaverse that Zuckerberg envisions is that it requires strapping a cumbersome headset to your face for hours.
Interest in VR technology is waning after its pandemic boom, especially since good games and legitimately interesting experiences seem to be few and far between. Global shipments for VR headsets are down 12% compared to last year.
Inflation and the state of the economy aren’t inspiring many households to run out and acquire a $500 piece of tech to visit a fake Eiffel Tower and look like a World Baby. (Las Vegas is cheaper for both.)
Mark Zuckerberg bet big on virtual reality as the next frontier, but generative AI appears to be where the world is focused now. The likes of ChatGPT, Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, and many other tools are turning the creative world on its head.
Meanwhile, Meta is still shilling a cartoon world that aims to hoover up every possible piece of data it can about you. So will these massive billion-dollar losses Reality Labs keeps posting ever pay off? Is the hype generated by the metaverse possibility dead in the water? It could be—but don’t call this one a corpse yet. There are still a few shambles left in this zombie.