Can Zuckerberg, who changed his company’s surname to “Yuan”, become the next Jobs?

At the Connect conference in the early morning of October 29, Facebook founder and CEO Zuckerberg announced in his keynote speech that the company has officially changed its name to “Meta”, which is the word “Meta” in MetaVerse. The reason for the name change is simple: it reflects the company’s strategic direction for the comprehensive transformation of Meta Universe.

The name change of Internet technology companies is nothing new, and Google is one of Zuckerberg’s predecessors in this regard. In 2015, Google announced the change of its name to Alphabet, spinning off search and other businesses other than Android, and becoming a subsidiary company alongside Google. After the name change, Google not only streamlined the already bloated organizational structure, but also clarified the responsibilities of each of its business lines.

Fundamentally speaking, the operation of Xiaozha’s rename of the company is similar to that of Google: social media Facebook has since been reduced to a position equal to that of WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus and other subsidiaries, and the parent company Meta has become the overall business manager. company.

However, this time the name change came more thorough. After announcing the name change, Facebook not only replaced the headquarters park with a new logo, but also changed the U.S. stock trading code from “FB” to “MVRS”-which can be regarded as the abbreviation of MetaVerse, or it can be interpreted as VR will become The core of the company’s future business.

At least from the name, Zuckerberg is sincere about being a metaverse.

Change the surname to “Yuan”, is it a little closer to Yuan Universe?

Since Roblox, a multiplayer online game creation platform, was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in March this year, “Meta Universe” has become a topic that cannot be avoided in the technology industry this year. Simply put, this concept is one level higher than the “cyberspace” that described the Internet in the early years. It is a perceptible and interactive 3D Internet virtual environment formed on the basis of abstract information.

If there is no concept of the above text, you can recall the scenes described in the Hollywood movies “Number One Player” and “Out of Control Player” in the past two years. The earlier “The Matrix” series can also be regarded as a “blackened” version of Metaverse.

In fact, the meta-universe vision displayed by Facebook is somewhat similar to the movie. In the keynote speech, the scene behind Xiao Zha switched from the daily living room to the virtual villa and space capsule. Like dealing with real people, he communicated and interacted with the avatars of other users connected to the “Future Internet” and transformed the virtual world. Everything in is projected into reality.

Most of the scenes are games, but unlike traditional games, the player’s experience is no longer about projecting themselves onto a fixed screen, but about participating in person. In addition, remote meetings, learning, and fitness are all due to the existence of the virtual world, eliminating geographical restrictions.

However, in order to achieve the same effect as in the display, it is inseparable from the support of real-time interaction, high-speed transmission and other technologies. At the same time, it also needs rich content ecological support. But at the moment, real-time interaction and high-speed transmission technologies still need breakthroughs, and ecological content is also in a conceptual state. Even Facebook’s previously launched remote meeting application Horizon Workrooms was regarded by Xiaozha as an exploratory application in the early days of the meta universe.

Perhaps you have also discovered that changing the surname to “Yuan” does not mean that the universe will become a reality in a short period of time. Judging from the status quo, the meta universe is still a distant phantom.

What is the picture for changing the surname to “Yuan”?

Although the goal is far away, it does not mean that the rebranded Facebook is unprofitable under the concept of “meta universe”.

At the 2021 DEMO CHINA Innovation China Summit held in September this year, Yuan Wenda, the founder and managing partner of Red Dot Ventures China Fund, believes that “the rise of the concept of meta universe originated from changes in technology and demand. From PC to Internet, and then When it comes to smartphones, every new era in the past 20 years has been a revolution in human-computer interaction.”

The reason why Facebook is so radical under the concept of meta-universe is also inseparable from a revolution in human-computer interaction-VR.

Since Facebook acquired Oculus VR in 2014, it has always regarded virtual reality as the company’s key research and development direction. And this year, the 7-year investment seems to really see hope.

According to incomplete statistics from Entrepreneurship, there have been 58 AR/VR-related financing events worldwide since 2021, with a total fundraising scale of approximately RMB 14.4 billion. During the same period in 2020, there were 49 related investment and financing events, but the total fundraising scale was only one-third of the current amount, about 4.9 billion yuan.

The main reason for the new round of investment boom is the Oculus Quest 2 released by Facebook last year. This head-mounted VR all-in-one machine solves the problems of early VR equipment such as computing power and display effect, and at the same time reduces the threshold of VR entry equipment to less than 300 US dollars (about 1917 yuan) for the first time.

The increase in experience and the decrease in prices have led to an explosion of equipment sales. Facebook disclosed in the third quarter of last year that Oculus Quest 2’s shipments during the same period reached five times that of the previous generation. The company also predicts that global shipments of new equipment in 2021 will exceed 10 million units. In the eyes of industry insiders, the number of shipments may double.

Hu Lin, executive director of Augmented World Expo Asia Pacific, said at the RTE 2021 real-time Internet conference a few days ago that Facebook has verified the feasibility of the market in terms of VR equipment, and this year’s shipments are likely to exceed 20 million units.

The investment community has similar views. According to Chen Canran, vice president of investment at Extreme Capital, the growth curve of Oculus Quest has many similarities with the early iPhone, and Facebook’s shipment expectations have surpassed the market performance of iPhone 3G. He believes that the shape of this product has truly reached the breaking point of consumer-grade products.

However, the changes in interactive technology and the surge in equipment shipments can only be regarded as favorable times and places at best. “Whether the meta universe can really break out depends on whether users can get a new experience and whether their needs can really be met.” Yuan Wenda believes.

For the renamed Meta, the critical point for profiting from VR has not yet arrived, and the company still needs more investment.

Earlier when he released the third-quarter financial report, Zuckerberg revealed at the financial report meeting that the VR R&D department alone may reduce the company’s annual operating profit by 10 billion US dollars, and the company will recruit 10,000 R&D dollars in Europe next year. The engineer of the universe.

In addition, the company will separately disclose the financial data of the VR/AR R&D department Facebook Reality Labs and the advertising business department from the fourth quarter. Similar to Google’s name change that year, this move allows the company to rest assured that it will continue to invest in VR technology and avoid affecting core business data.

Investing in VR = exploring space?

From 2015 to 2016, the VR field experienced a boom, and the starting point also came from Oculus. At that time, the company had not been acquired by Facebook, and launched a consumer-grade product called Rift, which was introduced to the market as an interactive peripheral for desktop computers. But at that time, the performance of mainstream PCs could not drive related equipment and content, and the imperfect display technology also made users experience dizziness, fatigue and other bad experiences. VR’s tuyere period was only one year, and it disappeared and fell into a trough.

“In the last round of craze, the industry did not realize that the technology at that time could not satisfy the imagination of VR.” Jingwei China Investment Manager Yu Xiaoyi once told VentureBang that a large number of underlying module and consumer product manufacturers had financing difficulties at that time. Shocked the expectations of investors.

However, these problems are gradually being resolved. Compared with the last craze, 3D modeling, spatial perception and cutting-edge display technology have been greatly improved, and the experience of VR devices has therefore entered an acceptable range.

Judging from Zuckerberg’s display at the Connect conference, most applications are still games. To some extent, this also exposed the lack of diversity in the VR content ecology.

According to industry insiders, the most abundant VR content is currently the game sales platform Steam. There are 8,000 exclusive VR games on the platform, and as many as 25,000 games that support VR. In the VR hardware of the linked platform, 50% of the devices are Oculus Quest-which means that most of Facebook’s device shipments are made for the Steam platform.

Outside of the game scene, it is still difficult to make breakthroughs in the application of VR. Some insiders have observed that Facebook’s return on investment in VR content construction is seriously unbalanced: “It invested 750 million US dollars, but the revenue was less than 1 US dollar.”

But from another perspective, the advancement of VR technology, just like space exploration, is no longer limited to benefiting the industry. In the narrow sense of the VR industry, the development of technology is bringing spillover effects.

“Many technologies today have evolved from VR technology, such as virtual production, preview, and real-time scene reconstruction.” Yuan Dong, Director of Developer Relations of HTC Vive Asia Pacific, said that related technologies have been widely used in the film and television industry today. Take the American sci-fi drama “The Mandalorian”, which was broadcast in 2019, as an example, 50% of the images were realized through virtual shooting.

In addition, medical care may also benefit from VR technology, and Hu Lin comes from this industry. After in-depth exploration of technologies related to remote medical diagnosis, he realized that VR may be the ultimate form of this industry.

The new crown epidemic has accelerated the integration of telemedicine and VR technology. For example, in June of this year, XRHealth, a US VR/AR telemedicine provider, announced that it had received US$9 million in financing. This company combines VR headsets with immersive technology, allowing patients to consult at home, and achieved a 1,000% increase in March last year alone. After the US epidemic has been brought under control, the company’s business data has only slightly declined.

Domestic Internet giants have also begun to bet on VR. The most recent case is Bytedance’s acquisition of Pico, a domestic VR equipment company, for 9 billion yuan.

“Now not only big factories have entered the game, the entire industry has also injected new resources and developed. After VR technology matures, it can be connected to many industries, and its commercial application value is very high.” Hu Lin said. From this perspective, Zuckerberg’s ambitions in the direction of the meta-universe may be far more than VR itself.

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