Hey everybody. Exciting news today. As many of you know, I’ve referenced Facebook a ton in my content over the last decade as an example of my macro thesis: Understand where the attention is — it matters so much. That being said, the company has the world’s attention yet again with its recent announcement rebranding as “Meta.” After sharing my initial thoughts on Instagram, I connected last Tuesday with the man himself — Mark Zuckerberg – Founder & CEO, Meta. In a podcast conversation, I was personally very excited about, Mark and I talked about all things Web3, MetaVerse, and how Meta plans to be a major driving force in the space for years to come. I hope you all enjoy.
Before we dive in to the chat, watch the video below for my gut reaction to the news of Facebook’s switch to Meta:
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From their purchase of Instagram and WhatsApp in 2012 and 2014 respectively, Facebook has always demonstrated a real understanding of going where the attention is. I think their most recent move is no different. While the name switch seems random to some, it made perfect sense to me for the times we’re in. With their entrance into the VR space through innovations like Oculus Quest, and of course the current surge of NFTs and Web3 technology, rebranding as Meta is a timely decision that makes a lot of sense for where the company — and society — is ultimately headed.
Check out my full conversation with Mark below for more context, but I’ll give you the brief recap below:
MARK ZUCKERBERG’S HOT TAKE ON THE METAVERSE
By now, everyone knows how bullish I am on Web3, NFTs, and VR being the future. While I had this time with Mark, I took the opportunity to pick his brain about where he thinks the Metaverse is going, and how these times compare to his early days starting out in Web2 with Facebook.
Here’s some of what he had to say.
“THE NEXT FRONTIER IN SOCIAL CONNECTION”
“The metaverse to me today feels like the next frontier in social connection in much the same way that social networking did when I was getting started back in 2004. That’s a big reason why we wanted to change the brand of the company…Today I think that most people think about us as a social media company, but in our DNA, we’re a technology company that builds all kinds of different technology to help people connect and tries to advance human connection. Of course, social media is one important part of that, but I think increasingly, it’s gonna be about building platforms and experiences that deliver this sense of presence like you’re right there with another person.”
Meta’s already gotten a jumpstart on those VR experiences, working in the space for seven years. They’ve got their Oculus Quest and Quest 2 headsets which allow users to play a variety of games and apps for everything from boxing to dancing and exercise. While gaming has been a huge part of the company taking VR more mainstream, Mark is confident that it’s just the starting point. Moving forward, he suggests that the Metaverse will become a place where people connect for a variety of in-person-like experiences like concerts or even just hanging out.
WHAT WAS BEHIND HIS INTEREST IN THE SPACE?
Facebook played its cards in the virtual space long before the rebranding to Meta. The company made a huge move when it bought VR headset developer, Oculus, in 2014 in a $2 billion acquisition. Seven years later, Mark’s passion for the space continues.
To me, the Oculus acquisition was a different kind of play than the more obvious acquisitions of social platforms like IG and WhatsApp, and I wanted to know the reasoning behind it.
“Well, a lot of it is just that we spend most of our days building social apps that you use on a little phone. As powerful as that is — you have your phone with you all the time — it’s also pretty limiting. You’re not delivering an experience where you can really feel like you’re with another person and in a lot of ways, that’s sort of the ultimate dream of building these digital social experiences — actually being able to make it so that people can feel like they’re there together and doing something together and collaborating, and just no technology that we have today can deliver that.
So, we’ve seen this progression where, when I started the company, the internet was primarily about text into a computer. Then we got phones that had cameras so the internet became a lot more visual and mobile. And over the last few years, internet connections have gotten a lot better for everyone, so now video is really the primary way that we share experiences. So, you have this progression from text to photos to videos; connection and expressing ourselves keeps on getting more natural and immersive, but that’s not the end of the line. There’s gonna be something after video, and it’s gonna be much more immersive and it’s gonna be something that we can do throughout the day.”
Just like NFTs, Web3 and Metaverse platforms are the next natural progression in how we interact, relate, and communicate with each other.
HOW LONG UNTIL HOLOGRAMS ARE A REAL THING?
According to Mark, VR is already here, but we have a bit of a longer way to go to get to mainstream augmented reality. What does this mean? Think holograms in your living room. For a taste, check out this video of Mark fencing with Olympic gold medalist, Lee Kiefer:
“So, I think you wanna break it down to…there’s the virtual reality side and the augmented reality side. VR is here. I think Quest was really the form factor that was necessary to make it mainstream. Quest 2 I think was a meaningful step beyond that and is kind of the first mainstream hit we’ve had…
When you’re talking about the fencing video that I showed with Lee Keefer and the hologram — that, you’re gonna need augmented reality glasses and that’s a harder problem because first, you’re inventing a completely new optical stack. So, you’re not just using normal screens and kind of building an architecture around that, which is how virtual reality has sort of worked to date. You need to design a projector in a set of waveguides so that way, you can have glasses that look normal, you can see through them. So, there’s a lot of interesting science and engineering there…
AR glasses, I think we’re gonna start seeing things that look like normal-looking glasses but that can project holograms into the world within the next 5 years. I think that’s a somewhat conservative estimate.”
HOW META PLANS TO FACTOR INTO THE WEB3 / METAVERSE SPACE
Similar to me with NFTs, Mark’s intentions to build within the Metaverse have become a strong focal point of his enterprise and internal operations. We talked a bit about just how major his plans are to lead the pack in this new direction.
“We’ve been talking about this internally for many years. We’ve been working on these VR devices for seven years. We’ve just sort of steadily ramped up the investment to the point where now, in 2021, we’re investing more than $10 billion in this. It’s still not the biggest part of what we do, but it’s very meaningful. I think that you’d be hard-pressed to find any other organization that cares as much about this and is putting as much energy into building all these different parts of the future. And what I think you get for that is that Meta has become the premier place that, if you care about these problems, you want to go work on them.”
WHAT WAS BEHIND THE INSTAGRAM AND WHATSAPP PLAYS?
This is one of those questions that selfishly, I just really wanted to ask. I had my own beliefs about why Facebook made these particular acquisitions, but here it is, straight from the source.
“There was a kernel with Instagram and with WhatsApp…where I just looked at that and I was like, okay. I think people often tend to look at these social apps and think that they’re frivolous early on. They think that these dynamics aren’t important — oh, it’s filtered photos or oh, it’s disappearing photos…
But I kind of looked at those and I was like, hey, I think that there’s something that’s important here. I think the world is probably underestimating this, and I also think that we have the skills as a company to go grow these things to reach more than a billion people around the world, because we’d done that with the core Facebook experience and I think there are two skills there. There’s sort of the building the social experience, and then there’s the helping to ramp up a network around that, and that, I think, is also a core competence. So, I don’t know what would have happened with Instagram if we hadn’t bought it. I don’t think it’s guaranteed that it would have grown to be as big as it is.”
WHAT THE METAVERSE MEANS FOR META’S SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
As for those wondering what this shift means for the “Facebook” and Instagram platforms, don’t worry. According to Mark, they’re not going anywhere any time soon. Think of the Meta rebranding as an addition to what the company is already known for, and a new branch that will work in harmony with the corporation’s existing platforms.
“That’s a key thing with this rebrand to Meta. It’s not like now, we’re not focused on social media. That’s gonna be the bread and butter of what we do; that’s the core thing. Our work to build the Metaverse encompasses both building social experiences and building these future platforms like VR and AR. It’s gotta be both — we have to weave all of these new technologies through these social apps because you want to be able to jump into the metaverse and a 3D experience from your Instagram feed — see your friend at a concert. We showed this as part of the keynote presentation, just dive in and maybe be a hologram at the concert, but a lot of the discovery around that is gonna happen through the core of social platforms. So, yeah, that’s gonna continue to be a focus. We’re gonna keep on focusing on growing and building apps and adding more social mechanics around that. I think that there’s a lot more to invent there, and then I think that there’s this next set of platforms.”
HOW WILL THE METAVERSE ACTUALLY WORK?
I think a lot of the magic of NFTs and a lot of the Web3 work is that it’s designed in a way to be fundamentally interoperable. That’s gonna be really important because it’ll help break down these silos between different apps and make it so that all your stuff can be just more portable between these different experiences, which I think increasingly is what people are going to expect. And I think that that’s gonna be a big part for creators of making it really worth investing in…
The analogy that I like to think about is..I like your Knicks hoodie, but imagine if you bought a jersey and you could only use it in the sports arena where you bought it. That would be sort of lame and it would reduce the value of buying it because who’s gonna wanna buy something if they could only use it in that arena? I mean, some people would, but a fraction of the number of people who would wanna buy it if they could use it in all these different places, and then if the amount of commerce is gonna be less then that’s gonna attract fewer creators. So, I think having it be more interoperable is gonna be key to making the whole thing so dynamic.”
I really do hope you take the time to watch the full conversation between Mark and myself, especially for those of you confused by or interested in where I see the future of Web3 going. That being said, let me say this. The Metaverse conversation is fresh and exciting, but the concepts are not new. At the core of this is society operating the way it always has. It’s about attention and connection.
Parents put their kids’ schools on the back of their windshields just to flex. NFTs, digital avatars, and clothing are all about the same shit. We’ve been doing all these same things; digital is just exposing truths and scaling truths, and I think the new frontier of 3.0 Metaverse is gonna take us to a completely different place that Web2 gave us a slight preview to.
Thank you so much for reading. If you haven’t yet, go check out the full Metaverse chat with Mark Zuckerberg and don’t forget to share your two cents with me on Twitter!