Mark Zuckerberg is really excited about the metaverse

He's been extremely active over the past seven days.

Mark Zuckerberg is really excited about the metaverse

Zuckerberg is envisioning a digital commerce empire.

Photo: Meta

It’s been a big week for Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Facebook page. The chief executive of Meta has in the past few years transformed his social network account into a press release distribution center, featuring personalized messages about news, product updates and company announcements and usually only ones Zuckerberg himself is pretty excited about. And now hardly a week goes by without some major Facebook post detailing a new product initiative or update about the topic Zuckerberg is most passionate about: the metaverse.

Zuckerberg has been extremely active over the past seven days, posting four major company announcements about metaverse-related news.

  • Last Friday, Zuckerberg announced a new store for Meta’s 3D avatars with virtual clothing from luxury brands like Balenciaga and Prada. On Monday, he debuted experimental headset designs from Meta’s VR group.
  • Then, on Tuesday, there was an overhaul to Meta’s monetization system for creators, including news the company would hold off on collecting its share of revenue until 2024 and plans to expand its NFT test to include Instagram Stories and Facebook.
  • On Wednesday, Zuckerberg said his company would be rebranding Facebook Pay into Meta Pay, with the goal of turning it into a “wallet for the metaverse.”

The Meta Pay news is a big deal. Before Facebook was Meta, the company tried and failed both publicly and spectacularly to get an ambitious digital currency and crypto platform off the ground. But it failed to woo regulators and eventually shut everything down in January.

  • The remnants of that dream exist today only in the form of Facebook’s digital payments system, which lets users on Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp send money and shop online. After Wednesday’s rebrand, which the company first teased in May, the product is taking on new responsibilities.
  • “Beyond the current features, we're working on something new: a wallet for the metaverse that lets you securely manage your identity, what you own, and how you pay,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page.
  • “In the future there will be all sorts of digital items you might want to create or buy — digital clothing, art, videos, music, experiences, virtual events, and more,” he added. “Proof of ownership will be important, especially if you want to take some of these items with you across different services.”
  • Not coincidentally, Meta is one of the founding members of the new Metaverse Standards Forum, an industry group that’s pledging to work toward platform interoperability for the metaverse. Not on the list of members right now: Apple, Niantic or Roblox, though Niantic told Protocol it’s “looking at it.”

Zuckerberg is envisioning a digital commerce empire. If Facebook the product became one of the world’s most effective and lucrative advertising machines, then the metaverse of Zuckerberg’s dreams will be the largest and most dynamic shopping mall ever made.

  • “We hope to basically get to around a billion people in the metaverse doing hundreds of dollars of commerce, each buying digital goods, digital content, different things to express themselves,” Zuckerberg told CNBC’s Jim Cramer yesterday.
  • “So whether that’s clothing for their avatar or different digital goods for their virtual home or things to decorate their virtual conference room, utilities to be able to be more productive in virtual and augmented reality and across the metaverse overall,” he said.
  • Zuckerberg clearly sees Meta’s advantages right now — owning the most popular VR platform, investing in early AR hardware and operating social networks used by billions of people — as the reason the company needs to move fast lest it cede any ground to rivals.
  • “We are at this point, you know, a company that can afford to make some big long-term research investments, and this is a big focus,” Zuckerberg said.

This isn’t anything we haven’t heard from the Meta CEO over the past nine months, since rebranding the company as Meta. But it does help contextualize many of this week’s announcements. The New York Times reported yesterday that since the metaverse shift, Zuckerberg has been notably less interested in what preoccupied him largely in the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. election, like election integrity, Facebook’s reputational issues and data privacy scandals.

Instead, the company and its most influential decision-maker are now laser-focused on the metaverse. It’s how Zuckerberg imagines Meta will build the next multibillion-user platform, how the company will make most of its money when or if Facebook and even Instagram’s user bases mostly move on to greener pastures and how it will avoid the pitfalls of building its business on platforms, like mobile, that it does not control.

Every day, millions of us press the “order” button on our favorite coffee mobile application. When we arrive at the coffee shop, we expect that our chosen brew will be on the counter a few minutes later. It’s a personalized, seamless experience that we have all come to expect. What we don’t know is what’s happening behind the scenes. The mobile application is sourcing data from a database that stores information about each customer and what their favorite coffee drinks are. It is also leveraging event-streaming data in real time to ensure the ingredients for your personal coffee are in supply at your local store.

Applications like this power our daily lives, and if they can’t access massive amounts of data stored in a database as well as streaming data “in motion” instantaneously, you, and millions of customers, won’t have the in-the-moment experiences we all expect.

Keep Reading Show less
Jennifer Goforth Gregory
Jennifer Goforth Gregory has worked in the B2B technology industry for over 20 years. As a freelance writer she writes for top technology brands, including IBM, HPE, Adobe, AT&T, Verizon, Epson, Oracle, Intel and Square. She specializes in a wide range of technology, such as AI, IoT, cloud, cybersecurity, and CX. Jennifer also wrote a bestselling book The Freelance Content Marketing Writer to help other writers launch a high earning freelance business.

How the internet got privatized and how the government could fix it

Author Ben Tarnoff discusses municipal broadband, Web3 and why closing the “digital divide” isn’t enough.

The Biden administration’s Internet for All initiative, which kicked off in May, will roll out grant programs to expand and improve broadband infrastructure, teach digital skills and improve internet access for “everyone in America by the end of the decade.”

Decisions about who is eligible for these grants will be made based on the Federal Communications Commission’s broken, outdated and incorrect broadband maps — maps the FCC plans to update only after funding has been allocated. Inaccurate broadband maps are just one of many barriers to getting everyone in the country successfully online. Internet service providers that use government funds to connect rural and low-income areas have historically provided those regions with slow speeds and poor service, forcing community residents to find reliable internet outside of their homes.

Keep Reading Show less
Aditi Mukund
Aditi Mukund is Protocol’s Data Analyst. Prior to joining Protocol, she was an analyst at The Daily Beast and NPR where she wrangled data into actionable insights for editorial, audience, commerce, subscription, and product teams. She holds a B.S in Cognitive Science, Human Computer Interaction from The University of California, San Diego.

How I decided to exit my startup’s original business

Bluevine got its start in factoring invoices for small businesses. CEO Eyal Lifshitz explains why it dropped that business in favor of “end-to-end banking.”

"[I]t was a realization that we can't be successful at both at the same time: You've got to choose."

Photo: Bluevine

Click banner image for more How I decided series

Bluevine got its start in fintech by offering a modern version of invoice factoring, the centuries-old practice where businesses sell off their accounts receivable for up-front cash. It’s raised $240 million in venture capital and about $700 million in total financing since its founding in 2013 by serving small businesses. But along the way, it realized it was better to focus on the checking accounts and lines of credit it provided customers than its original product. It now manages some $500 million in checking-account deposits.

Keep Reading Show less
Ryan Deffenbaugh
Ryan Deffenbaugh is a reporter at Protocol focused on fintech. Before joining Protocol, he reported on New York's technology industry for Crain's New York Business. He is based in New York and can be reached at rdeffenbaugh@protocol.com.

The Roe decision could change how advertisers use location data

Over the years, the digital ad industry has been resistant to restricting use of location data. But that may be changing.

Over the years, the digital ad industry has been resistant to restrictions on the use of location data. But that may be changing.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, the likelihood for location data to be used against people suddenly shifted from a mostly hypothetical scenario to a realistic threat. Although location data has a variety of purposes — from helping municipalities assess how people move around cities to giving reliable driving directions — it’s the voracious appetite of digital advertisers for location information that has fueled the creation and growth of a sector selling data showing who visited specific points on the map, when, what places they came from and where they went afterwards.

Over the years, the digital ad industry has been resistant to restrictions on the use of location data. But that may be changing. The overturning of Roe not only puts the wide availability of location data for advertising in the spotlight, it could serve as a turning point compelling the digital ad industry to take action to limit data associated with sensitive places before the government does.

Keep Reading Show less
Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye is an award-winning multimedia reporter digging deep and telling print, digital and audio stories. She covers AI and data for Protocol. Her reporting on AI and tech ethics issues has been published in OneZero, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, CityLab, Ad Age and Digiday and heard on NPR. Kate is the creator of RedTailMedia.org and is the author of "Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media," a book about how the 2008 presidential campaigns used digital media and data.

Latest Stories