Vishal Shah, the vice-president in charge of the Metaverse at Meta, is faced with a bitter reality. Facebook’s virtual world, Horizon Worlds, is having a hard time attracting users. Internally, the company’s employees are increasingly forced to join this metaverse.
A technology that struggles to convince
A year ago, Facebook took the radical turn of the metaverse by renaming itself Meta. Since then, it has multiplied its investments in the field, to the point of creating its own metaverse: Horizon Worlds
Today, between the bugs, the bad user experience, and a relatively low audience, Horizon Worlds is not unanimous. Each month, it is estimated that about 300,000 people connect to Horizon Worlds, which is relatively small compared to the 2.9 billion monthly users on Facebook
But before creating a metaverse, the American firm would still need to have teams that believe in this technology.
According to a survey, 58% of Meta employees understand the company’s strategy around the metaverse. However, when you look closer at the uses of the metaverse in the company, the results are disappointing.
On September 15, 2022, Meta’s vice president of metaverse, Vishal Shah, sent a message to his teams. In it, he stated his disappointment with the low number of employees using Horizon Worlds.
“Why don’t we like the product, which we work so hard on, enough to use it all the time? The simple truth is, if we don’t like it, how can we expect our users to like it?”
To remedy this problem, the firm’s executives came up with an unstoppable trick: force their teams to go to the metaverse.
Threats from the executive
“Get on board or get out”: this was the message sent by Mark Zuckerberg to his employees a few months ago.
Since then, the CEO of Meta has decided to sort out its workforce: the company’s recruitments are temporarily frozen, budgets have been reduced, and a big turnover of employees is underway.
In addition, the creator of Facebook is making a point of enforcing his ideas.
In particular, he asked managers to hold meetings in virtual conference rooms on Horizon Worlds. Many employees then rushed to buy a virtual reality (VR) headset at their expense.
For his part, Vishal Shah has a more ambivalent stance. On the one hand, he puts pressure on his employees by asking them to use Horizon Worlds at least once a week. On the other hand, he tries to convince his teams in an awkward and intrusive way:
“Everyone in the company should have the vocation to fall in love with Horizon Worlds. You can’t be in love without using it. […] Take some time to go there with your colleagues and friends.”
With this message, Meta’s metaverse manager puts himself in an awkward position. Unintentionally, he points to the perceived lack of usefulness of the firm’s metaverse to his teams.
The company’s crew in the middle of a split
Despite the billions of dollars spent by Meta to build Horizon Worlds, we can ask ourselves what need this virtual space really serves. This ambiguity is noted by Vishal Shah himself:
“We are working on a product that has not found its place in the market. I need you to fully embrace ambiguity and change.”
Another interesting fact: Meta’s metaverse is not unanimously supported even within the executive branch.
John Carmack, the CTO of Oculus (Meta’s subsidiary), states his opposition to Mark Zuckerberg. According to him, the management of Horizon Worlds is chaotic.
In addition, he emphasizes the neglect of the user experience in favor of commercial opportunities, as well as the billions of euros spent without any revenue.
Meanwhile, metaverses that are more in line with users’ needs are developing. During its second season, the metaverse The Sandbox gathered about 350,000 monthly users, which is more than Horizon Worlds’ results. Is it enough to question Meta’s management of its metaverse?