Facebook’s Metaverse “Will Misfire”: Vitalik Buterin

The Ethereum creator has explained that while the Metaverse remains an undefined concept, he thinks corporations like Facebook will struggle to build it.

Facebook’s Metaverse “Will Misfire”: Vitalik Buterin
Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Key Takeaways

  • Vitalik Buterin has said that corporations like Facebook's Meta that are trying to build the Metaverse today will be unsuccessful in their endeavors.
  • The Ethereum creator said that he thinks the Metaverse "is going to happen," but it's still too early for corporations to know how it will look.
  • Meta has indicated that it's committed to the Metaverse since rebranding from Facebook, but its latest earnings report shows it has some way to go to succeed.

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Buterin has said that he doubts any “existing corporate attempts” to create a Metaverse will succeed. 

Buterin Unconvinced by Meta’s Metaverse 

Vitalik Buterin thinks any corporations trying to build the Metaverse today will get it wrong.

The Ethereum creator shared his perspective on where the nascent space could be headed on Twitter early Sunday, saying he thinks that companies that are trying to create the Metaverse are unlikely to succeed in their endeavors. While he said that he thinks the Metaverse “is going to happen,” he added that he doesn’t think “any of the existing corporate attempts to intentionally create the metaverse are going anywhere.” 

Without a doubt the most notable corporate player to show interest in the Metaverse to date has been Meta, Facebook’s parent company that rebranded as part of a shift to embrace the Metaverse late last year. Buterin namechecked Meta in his critique of the corporates entering the space. “Anything Facebook creates now will misfire,” he wrote in response to a tweet, arguing that Metaverse-focused companies would likely fail because “it’s far too early to know what people actually want.” 

Buterin has become known for his outspoken personality as his public profile has grown with Ethereum over the years, though he often uses his Twitter account and blog to discuss Ethereum’s technology and how decentralization could impact the world. Though he’s commented on NFTs at length in the past, noting that he was surprised by the 2021 boom and taking subtle digs at the speculative side of the market, he’s rarely discussed the Metaverse. 

The Next-Generation Internet

Though still a vague concept, the Metaverse is widely used to refer to a next-generation Internet in which users will be able to work, play, and connect with others within immersive virtual worlds. It’s believed that the Metaverse will incorporate elements of augmented reality, virtual reality, and blockchain technology. Hit MMPORG releases such as Fortnite and Runescape have been described as early examples of Metaverse worlds, but in recent years crypto-native titles like Decentraland and The Sandbox have found success in embracing the Metaverse space. Both games let players own plots of digital land and explore virtual worlds. They also incorporate their own tokens, something that crypto enthusiasts believe will be key to the Metaverse in the future. NFTs are also frequently discussed in tandem with the space as they can be used to represent online characters, virtual land, or other in-game items, giving players true ownership of their assets. 

Several major corporations announced Metaverse plays as the crypto bull run reached a peak in 2021, with the likes of Adidas and Coca-Cola acquiring digital land, dropping NFTs, and hosting their own virtual parties. Metaverse hype peaked in October when Zuckerberg announced Meta and the firm has indicated that it’s ready to double down on the space on several occasions since, including sharing plans to support NFTs on Facebook and Instagram. Zuckerberg said that the company’s Metaverse arm, Reality Labs, would sink $10 billion into the space following the announcement, and it later reported an 11-figure 2021 loss. This year hasn’t gone much better, with Meta revealing its first revenue drop and a $2.8 billion loss on Reality Labs in its second-quarter earnings report Wednesday. In other words, based on the numbers, the company still has a long way to go to prove Buterin wrong. 

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned ETH and several other cryptocurrencies. 

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