Is Meta’s new VR headset ready for business?
Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Is Meta’s new VR headset ready for business?

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Good morning! Meta is expected to unveil its high-end VR headset during Meta Connect next week. But unlike the Quest 2, it will be geared toward businesses.

And a quick programming note: We’ll be off on Sunday and Monday to commemorate Indigenous Peoples Day. We’ll be back on Tuesday!

Meta’s push for business VR

Meta is poised to unveil its next-generation VR headset, code-named Project Cambria, at its Meta Connect conference on Tuesday. Ahead of the unveiling, it’s worth revisiting Janko Roettgers’ reporting from earlier this year, when he got a brief demo of Cambria and talked to Mark Zuckerberg about his vision for the metaverse.

Meta has turned its focus away from gaming for Project Cambria. The company decided that building a super-powerful Quest gaming headset with high-end features would’ve made it unaffordable for consumers.

  • “It's just going to be a higher-price-point device,” Zuckerberg said. “From a market perspective, you can either position it as an innovation-oriented thing that enthusiasts [might] want, but that's probably going to be a bit too expensive for most consumers.”

Instead, expect a business focus: Meta is expected to position Cambria as a device that helps knowledge workers to be more productive and creative. Zuckerberg pitched VR as a better solution for virtual collaboration.

  • “You're not making eye contact, you have no spatial audio. Every meeting you're in kind of looks the same,” Zuckerberg said about Zoom calls. “It feels like it lacks reality, even if you're actually seeing someone's real face.”

But is Meta’s tech ready for prime time? While the headset might be at the cutting edge, a report from The Verge suggests that the company’s flagship metaverse app, Horizon Worlds, is still riddled with bugs.

  • An internal memo reportedly written by Meta’s VP of Metaverse, Vishal Shah, in mid September and seen by The Verge states that “the aggregate weight of paper cuts, stability issues, and bugs is making it too hard for our community to experience the magic of Horizon.”
  • A follow-up note suggested that the app hasn’t yet found its place in the world. “We are working on a product that has not found product market fit,” Shah wrote.

But Cambria will only be a first step. Zuckerberg made it clear that Meta is looking to invest in VR for work for years to come.

  • “It's the first device in that set,” he said, adding that he expected the device category to ramp up over time.
  • He also predicted that VR headsets will be a must-have for many companies in the future. “If we can make it so that our engineers are 2% more productive, I'd buy them all expensive headsets,” he said.

Zuckerberg is delivering the keynote speech for Meta’s Connect conference, which will be held online in its entirety, at 10 a.m. PT on Tuesday.

A longer version of this story first appeared in our Entertainment newsletter. Subscribe here.

CrowdStrike wants more

CrowdStrike has made a name for itself as one of the biggest players in cybersecurity of the past decade. But it’s not done yet.

CrowdStrike wants to expand its remit. Until this point it’s made endpoint security the core of its business; it now wants to grow into other areas, such as data observability and IT operations, co-founder and CEO George Kurtz told Protocol cybersecurity reporter Kyle Alspach.

  • The company has the credibility to back up its ambitions, experts told Kyle. CrowdStrike surpassed $2 billion in annual recurring revenue this summer, just 18 months after reaching $1 billion. That kind of growth is rare in cybersecurity.

Its big selling point is its cloud-native platform. It provides a single interface for all of its services and requires just one software agent to be installed on end-user devices.

  • This kind of all-in-one platform is especially popular as companies look to save costs.
  • “CrowdStrike’s DNA is that they’ve come as a cloud-native company with a focus on security from day one,” said Shaul Eyal, managing director at Cowen.

There are no guarantees that it’ll keep its edge in a fragmented market, especially as it faces competition like Microsoft’s Defender security product.

  • Despite Microsoft’s streak of security problems, its advantage is its ubiquity: The company has seen major success in bundling Defender into its widely used Office 365 productivity suite.

But so far, so good. CrowdStrike is quickly making headway outside of endpoint.

  • It’s particularly gaining traction in data observability — or tracking and assessing IT data — based on its early 2021 acquisition of Humio, now called Falcon LogScale.
  • This allows customers to do things that aren’t related to security, such as deploying software patches and other actions to improve IT hygiene.

Can you bet on elections?

The government’s futures regulator is usually focused on crypto. But it’s recently become interested in election bets, which could have big implications for the fintech industry.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is deciding whether New York-based startup Kalshi can let people bet on which party will control the House and Senate after the midterms, my colleague Ryan Deffenbaugh reports.

First: What is Kalshi? It’s currently registered with the CFTC as a designated contract market and describes itself as an events-focused market.

  • It lets users trade contracts on topics like the size of the Fed’s next rate hike and the high temperature in Chicago.
  • Now Kalshi also wants to include events contracts on the outcome of the midterms.

The CFTC wouldn’t usually approve such a proposal because it would be considered gaming. But it has strong backing from tech leaders who believe it serves a greater purpose.

  • Kalshi’s proposal brought in support from tons of big names, including a former economic adviser to the Obama administration, and Facebook and Asana co-founder Dustin Moskovitz. Those people think of Kalshi’s contract as less of a gaming proposal and more of a way for investors to hedge against election risks.
  • Even so, the CFTC may be hesitant to approve this sort of thing. It’s already turned down a similar contract by Nadex. And it fined Polymarket, which offers blockchain-based event contracts trading.

The futures regulator has set Oct. 28 as a date by which it hopes to decide whether to approve the proposal, and given its history, it’s not looking likely. Ryan pointed to one hint at the outcome: Polymarket is offering an events contract on whether it’ll be approved. So far, the majority answer is no.

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People are talking

Peloton’s Barry McCarthy said the company needs to conduct layoffs to “save Peloton”:

  • “Our goal is to control our own destiny and assure the future viability of the business.”
  • He also said in a memo to staff there’s “no ticking clock on our performance” after The Wall Street Journal reported that Peloton has six months to prove itself.

Making moves

Nelson Petracek is Board’s new CTO. Petracek previously worked in a similar role at TIBCO Software.

Faraday executive chair Susan Swenson stepped down, along with two other board members. Board members have been accused of running the company into the ground for their own benefit, and those criticisms escalated into death threats.

Lulu Cheng Meservey joined Activision Blizzard as EVP of corporate affairs and chief communications officer. She previously served in a similar role at Substack.

John Curtius left Tiger Global to start his own VC firm. Curtius was behind some of the firm’s biggest deals.

In other news

The Binance blockchain was hacked. Crypto worth about $100 million was stolen, and the hack targeted the BSC Token Hub.

Toyota may be facing a data leak of almost 300,000 pieces of customer information. Affected customers are those using T-Connect.

The conviction of Uber's former chief security officer seems likely to change some minds in the debate over proposed cyber incident reporting regulations.

AMD is feeling the hurt of the PC dark ages: It missed quarterly revenue expectations by more than $1 billion.

ByteDance saw operating losses more than triple last year as it continued heavy spending to drive growth.

Delta and MIT announced a partnership to test how to mitigate persistent contrails, the innocuous-looking clouds behind planes that have an outsize impact on the environment.

Amazon is hiring 150,000 holiday workers for its warehouses. It hopes to attract seasonal hires by bumping up hourly pay to $19 and offering sign-on bonuses of up to $3,000.

Remote work policies aren’t set in stone yet, according to a new survey by Fiverr. Still, most employees said they’d only go back to the office if they got a raise.

The edit button is coming to U.S. Twitter Blue subscribers. It was already introduced in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

The Twitter v. Musk trial was delayed until Oct. 28 so that the acquisition can be completed. But if the deal’s not done by 5 p.m. that day, it’s game on.

It’s Mario movie time

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: The trailer for The Super Mario Bros. movie dropped yesterday. It’ll feature all the big Mario characters including Luigi, Bowser, and Toad. The movie — which looks really cute, actually! — will be out April 7.

A MESSAGE FROM CAPITAL ONE SOFTWARE

The flexibility of the cloud helps companies like Capital One unlock access to their data with performance that can scale instantly. But this flexibility and scale can also create a unique challenge for organizations and users who are not proficient in cloud optimization.

Learn more

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you Tuesday.

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