Facebook & the Metaverse

Thought it was super cool how Facebook are rebranding their organisation to be called Meta. They’ve also released this video about how they see the Metaverse and how they’re building it. I thought it was fascinating that the general web3 twitter community have reacted against this announcement with displeasure. My take is that the existing web3 community is cautious about big cooperation like Facebook because they think that in web2, corporate interest have got in the way of technology developing to best server consumers.

It’s a fair point, especially considering the world view of most web3 enthusiasts. Web3 should be decentralized and owned by the community. Blockchain technology allows early adopters and contributors to get rewarded for their work when a decentralized protocols gets more usage and token thus appreciates in value.

Meta – With a clever rebranding, is offering their vision of the future. A centralized vision. They, will build the various tools and services to be used in an interoperable world. Much like the existing playbook of web2, they’re offering to build out various tools and services, volunteering to be the platform that hosts the network. I suspect the goal (borrowed from web2), is to collect as many Users as possible, build a great network and let network effects kick in, and then start monetizing their audience and platform. Depending on how that happens, we may end up being the product instead of the customer again.

It’s wonderful to envision an open source world where developers spend their free time contributing to projects. A future where our services are owned by it’s Users. However, this vision put forth by Meta is equal parts visionary and worrisome.

Regardless of what you think about Facebook (Or now Meta), they have the resources:

  • Human capital (Hiring the cream of the crop for years)
  • Network effect (Existing networks they can leverage for adoption – Facebook has 3 billion monthly active users)
  • Big Data (Amazon has “purchasing behaviour” data, Alphabet have “search patterns”. But Meta owns a disgusting amount of “social data” .Their data seems perfectly suited for the Metaverse)
  • Money (They’re rich)
  • Leadership (The mobile-first transition Facebook made in 2012)

So there we go, Meta is in the lead for the development of the Metaverse. They have incredible resources but operate within the old framework. Where they’re responsible to their shareholders more than their customers. Understandably so, because the shareholders own the resources that will allow them to develop this in the first place.

So the web3 guys are understandably concerned.. Their vision of a decentralized future may be just a pipedream with the entry of Meta. Would Solana’s NFT marketplace be relevant when the 80% of the world is run on Facebooks internal blockchain? A blockchain with built in features which allows censorship (For privacy and safety)?

Regardless of what happen, it’s likely the metaverse is here to stay. For the first time in a while, consumers and builders will be able to choose the market structure they want to participate in. We’ll likely have both market structures at play within the next few years. I personally like the idea of a decentralized future, but existing orders tend to stay because they’re tested by time. Could a decentralized web3 be too radical for our times?

When owners of technology have control over their database, making closed-door decisions around the data interactions, the people worry about evil owners, in the present or future taking over said technology and wielding this power in undesirable ways.

However, the alternate situation where no one controls anything has it’s own host of problems like the inability to swiftly take down illegal content.