That’s So Meta
John Herrman writes about the failure of the metaverse concept. He’s clearly disillusioned with legless avatars and unearned hype. The premise for the piece is that there is no “there” there. The metaverse as a concept is simply lacking a reason for existence. Herrman references Ed Zitron, in writing his obituary for the metaverse, tends to blame one particular CEO.
He lays a great deal of responsibility for the hype at the feet — or in the space below the floating torso — of one man. “Zuckerberg misled everyone, burned tens of billions of dollars, convinced an industry of followers to submit to his quixotic obsession, and then killed it the second that another idea started to interest Wall Street,” he writes. Which is fair: Changing Facebook’s name to Meta was a bold attempt not just to rebrand a company but to set an industry agenda, and while it ultimately failed, it sort of worked, for a while.
There may not have been a compelling reason for anyone to latch onto the metaverse concept, but Zuckerberg’s ideas seemed to appeal to one particular class of individuals with one thought pattern: paranoid managers who, during the pandemic, felt they no longer had control over their employees. They craved a solution to help keep tabs on workers, and thought they had found an answer to their prayers in the offering Meta was pitching.
A rational CEO thinking about his shareholders certainly could have made any number of bad or misguided choices in Mark Zuckerberg’s position, especially under the strange circumstances of a pandemic; still, it’s hard to explain Meta without an unusually empowered CEO becoming intensely committed to a fantasy that, then and now, didn’t resonate much with anyone but him, and maybe an audience of similarly disoriented corporate leaders.
It’s clear that Meta is shifting away from their namesake, now that AI is the rage. I never saw the benefit of the metaverse, so I can’t say that it seems like a loss.