New York (CNN Business)Facebook has many pressing problems, from proposed antitrust legislation to accusations that the company is contributing to vaccine misinformation. But when CEO Mark Zuckerberg joined a recent conference call with analysts to discuss its latest quarterly results, much of the focus was on something far removed from those issues: the metaverse. During the hour-long call, the metaverse was mentioned nearly two dozen times.
The metaverse was originally conceived as the setting for dystopian science fiction novels, where virtual universes provide an escape from crumbling societies. Now, the idea has transformed into a moonshot goal for Silicon Valley, and become a favorite talking point among startups, venture capitalists and tech giants.
The idea is to create a space similar to the internet, but one that users (via digital avatars) can walk around inside of and where they can interact with one another in real time. In theory, you could, for example, sit around a virtual meeting table with colleagues from around the world — instead of staring at their 2D faces on Zoom — and then walk over to a virtual Starbucks to meet up with your mom, who lives across the country.
Zuckerberg has in recent weeks been extolling his vision for turning Facebook (in middle school. The company recently announced the creation of a new metaverse product group and Zuckerberg said he sees the technology as “the successor to the mobile internet.”) into a “metaverse company,” claiming that he began thinking about the concept