Mark Zuckerberg Is Still Full Throttle on the Metaverse

Reality Labs is still losing billions, but Mark Zuckerberg said the division has reached some key milestones in recent months.

Mark Zuckerberg stands on stage wearing a headset with avatars on a screen behind him.
Consumers are spending more time in and more money on the metaverse, according to Mark Zuckerberg. AFP via Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg, Meta (META) CEO, waved off claims yesterday (April 26) that his company is straying away from the metaverse to focus on artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

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“A narrative has developed that we’re somehow moving away from focusing on the metaverse vision,” Zuckerberg said in a call with investors after Meta released its earnings report. “That’s not accurate.”

Zuckerberg has spent the last 16 months trying to convince consumers and shareholders that his company’s metaverse investments are worthwhile. It rebranded its company from “Facebook” to “Meta” and is spending billions to create a virtual world where users can interact. Demand is uncertain, and some investors have called on the company to slow its spending on Reality Labs, the division focusing on the metaverse. The company hasn’t yet made a profit off Reality Labs, and it is expecting losses to increase in 2023, according to Meta’s earnings report.

Meta is continuing to develop both AI and the metaverse moving forward, though the metaverse is a long term project, Zuckerberg said.

In the three months ending March 31, Reality Labs earned $339 million in revenue, which is less than half what it earned the previous three months and in the same period last year. The division lost $3.99 billion from January to March, which is slightly lower than its losses in the previous three months but up 35 percent what it lost during the same time last year.

Milestones for Reality Labs, according to Zuckerberg

Meta’s metaverse technologies have had some notable accomplishments in recent months, Zuckerberg said in the call:

  • Users have created more than 1 billion avatars. That figure likely includes avatars created on Facebook and Instagram, rather than avatars created solely in the metaverse. Meta has reportedly sold 20 million Quest headsets, which are required to enter Horizon Worlds, the company’s metaverse.
  • More than half of Quest users who enter the metaverse daily are spending at least an hour using the technology. Zuckerberg didn’t clarify how many daily active users it has in its metaverse, but the company has reportedly struggled to keep users engaged in recent months. Horizon Worlds has 200,000 monthly active users, with an 11 percent retention rate, according to the Wall Street Journal. Facebook has 2.99 billion monthly active users.
  • “Since last year, the number of titles in the Quest store with at least $25 million in revenue has doubled,” Zuckerberg said, indicating consumers are spending more on the games and experiences available. In February, Meta completed the acquisition of Within, a virtual reality fitness app, after the Federal Trade Commission tried to block the sale. Meta acquired three other game developers and a haptic technology startup late last year.
  • The company is releasing a new mixed and virtual reality headset this year, after its most recent Quest release in October.

Mark Zuckerberg Is Still Full Throttle on the Metaverse