Metaverse shock: executives leave, teams disband, tearing down the east wall to make up for the west wall

Hundreds of shares rose, Tencent ended, Meta and Microsoft split into two, and the Metaverse welcomes the second spring?

Early this morning, the tech world exploded. This time, it is still inseparable from the hottest topic recently, the Metaverse

The first is that Meta quietly throws out 24 prototypes of the headset, and focuses on predicting that Meta’s next-generation headset will make breakthroughs in four areas: retinal resolution, focal depth, optical distortion and HDR. 

Metaverse shock: executives leave, teams disband, tearing down the east wall to make up for the west wall

▲ Meta Reality Labs’ headset prototype

Immediately after the media broke the news, Tencent officially established the XR (extended reality) department , led by Li Shen, the global chief technology officer of Tencent Games. Combined with Luo Yonghao’s return to the technology circle, Skyworth will soon launch new VR products and other information, the Metaverse field seems to be welcoming the “second spring” recently . 

Under the effect of the accumulation of many news, today’s Metaverse concept stocks sector has risen rapidly, and the share prices of nearly 100 companies have risen. Among them, the share prices of Bauing and Alto Electronics have risen by more than 9%, close to the daily limit. 

Metaverse shock: executives leave, teams disband, tearing down the east wall to make up for the west wall

▲As of the close on June 21, the situation of the Metaverse concept stocks sector (Source: Sohu Securities)

Interestingly, the Metaverse market is now like “Schrödinger’s cat”. 

On the one hand, both the giants and start-ups of some tracks believe that the Metaverse Track has a huge blue ocean market , and they are madly spending money to poach people for this. On the other hand, the two tech giants who chanted the slogan “Metaverse” the most loudly, Microsoft and Meta have fallen into development difficulties one after another . 

On June 10, Microsoft announced the reorganization of a new MR (mixed reality) team . And just four days ago, Meta also announced plans to restructure the company’s artificial intelligence division . At the same time, news about the departure of executives from Microsoft and Meta came out frequently. Changes in departmental restructuring and executive departures have also cast a haze on the two tech giants’ plans for the Metaverse. 

New giants are constantly pouring in, while the long-established giants on the other side are “struggling” to survive. How should the giants take the road to the Metaverse? Faced with the changes in the Metaverse market, how did Microsoft, the leader of the Metaverse B-end track, and Meta, the leader of the C-end track, respond? Why did their executives choose to leave when the Metaverse was hot?

After investigation, we saw that during this turbulent period, Microsoft and Meta chose two different routes to cut into the Metaverse track

Microsoft chose a relatively conservative approach, disbanding the MR team focused on the Metaverse field, and assigning employees to different departments according to different categories of projects. The Metaverse business is still dominated by Windows systems. 

The radical Meta, which merged its former core AI team into a reality lab focused on the Metaverse, is bound to blaze a new path. 

01. Coincidence or necessity? Microsoft, Meta executives leave

On June 10, an internal email circulated among Microsoft employees. 

In the email, Scott Guthrie, head of Microsoft’s cloud and artificial intelligence group, announced the departure of Alex Kipman, principal of the HoloLens team, saying that “this is the right time for him to leave the company to pursue other opportunities. “. 

Alex Kipman can be described as the “soul man” in the Microsoft MR team.

Alex Kipman was born into a family of diplomats in Brazil and grew up as a “child of someone else”. Rumor has it that when Alex Kipman was seven or eight years old, he learned to program the Atari 2600. 

In 2001, Alex Kipman graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology and joined Microsoft. He has participated inMicrosoft’s Windows Vista project , Project Natal (that is, Kinect) product upgrade and many other core projects. 

It is reported that Don Mattrick, the then vice president of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business unit, hoped to add motion tracking, face recognition, voice control and other functions to the Kinect product to enhance the interactivity of the product. At that time, this task was handed over to Kipman, who held multiple patents, which also laid the foundation for Kipman to develop HoloLens later. 

On January 21, 2015, Kipman wore HoloLens to the stage of Microsoft’s launch event to introduce its latest achievements to the world. In the face of HoloLens, Kipman once said in an interview: “I don’t think a $3,500 headset is a consumer product. But it is a revolutionary product for the industry we are in.” 

Metaverse shock: executives leave, teams disband, tearing down the east wall to make up for the west wall

▲Alex Kipman

As for his departure, the foreign media The information once commented: “This is Microsoft’s biggest blow to AR hardware, platforms and software since 2010. This will affect (Microsoft) advancing any enterprise, military or consumer projects. s plan.”

Not only are executives leaving, but other members of Microsoft’s MR team are also jumping to other companies.According to The Wall Street Journal, nearly 100 people will leave Microsoft in 2021 alone.

Another tech giant that has recently been affected by employee departures is Meta. 

As the number one player in the consumer market, Meta’s core technical staff is also losing ground. On June 2, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg ( Sheryl Sandberg) stated on her social platform that she would resign as the Chief Operating Officer of Meta, but would remain a member of the Meta board of directors. 

Metaverse shock: executives leave, teams disband, tearing down the east wall to make up for the west wall

▲ Sheryl Sandberg (Sheryl Sandberg)

And just after she offered to leave, Meta’s head of artificial intelligence, Jerome Pesenti, CTO Mike Schroepfer, and high-level executives in charge of data centers and core infrastructure. Although David Mortenson (David Mortenson) has announced that he is leaving. 

According to statistics, from October 2021 to the present, nearly 20 core executives at Meta have left, including Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer, AR/VR Senior Vice President Mike Verdu (Mike Verdu) et al

The departure of these executives who have been rooted in Meta for many years and have worked in Meta for more than ten years is no less than a new personnel shock for Meta. 

Every large-scale personnel turmoil among the giants seems to be witnessing the end of an era. The departure of executives also revealed some of their feedback on the current state of the company’s business. 

After the concept of Metaverse became popular, more and more people are paying attention to this track. The number of entrepreneurs in the VR/AR field has gradually increased. The influx of large factories and the favor of the capital market have also allowed executives to have more Choose an opportunity. At the same time, for the giants, their competition for Metaverse talents has become more intense. 

02. For the giants troubled by money, the Metaverse business is slow to promote

It is difficult to say whether the departure of these executives is related to the adjustment of the company’s core direction, but Microsoft and Meta have indeed encountered many difficulties in the business development of the Metaverse. 

According to foreign media ITPro Today, Microsoft had previously won an estimated $22 billion US Army order, and now it has only received $40 million.

Douglas Bush, assistant undersecretary of the Army for Acquisition, has said they are doubting Microsoft’s ability to deliver AR headsets by May 2022. Previously, soldiers pointed out that Microsoft’s IVAS system (Integrated Visual Augmentation System) has low-light and thermal imaging performance issues. 

Now that the delivery time has come, how did Microsoft complete this big order? We may be able to find out from Microsoft’s earnings data for this quarter. 

If it is said that the setback of orders from Microsoft, a major AR customer, may affect the financial report data of its “Metaverse department”, then Meta’s realistic financial report has already affected its overall business progress. 

According to foreign media The Information, Meta decided not to release consumer-grade AR glasses code-named Project Nazare , but to release smart glasses code-named Artemis first. The AR software team previously working on Nazarre will focus on building software development kits. 

Not only that, in order to reduce expenses, Meta also plans to cancel the research and development of smart watches , and reposition its Portal smart home products to face enterprise users. 

The shelving of these R&D projects is part of a series of efforts to cut spending in Reality Labs’ hardware and AR/VR divisions. Back in May, Meta’s CTO and reality lab head, Andrew Bosworth, told employees to prepare for cuts or delays in certain projects. 

After Meta announced the transformation of the Metaverse, the financial problems became more prominent.Compared with the previous high of $956 billion in market value, Meta’s current market value is only $443.1 billion, falling below half of its market value. And the millions of R&D invested by Meta in the real laboratory project also forced it to tighten its “purse” and learn to put away its ambitions. 

Metaverse shock: executives leave, teams disband, tearing down the east wall to make up for the west wall

▲On June 21, the stock price change of Meta as of the closing position

It appears that if the tech giants are to gain a foothold in the Metaverse, they will have to think carefully about how to rationalize their funding. 

03. How to get to the Metaverse? Giants dismantle and reopen

Faced with the departure of a large number of executives and the obstruction of business advancement, both Microsoft and Meta chose to restructure their businesses at the same time, but in different ways. 

The first is Microsoft. From the internal emails, we can see that Microsoft’s original MR team mainly provides AR and VR products and solutions. Among them, the core business of Microsoft’s MR team mainly includes HoloLens , the IVAS (Integrated Visual Augmentation System) project in cooperation with the military , and the Microsoft Mesh XR cloud service

At this time, the Microsoft MR team business has no obvious direction, but with the departure of Alex Kipman, the main leader of the HoloLens team, the Microsoft MR team reorganization plan seems to reveal a corner of the Microsoft Metaverse plan. 

According to the document, the MR hardware team will join the Windows and Devices Group with the HoloLens and IVAS projects, led by Panos Panay, the head of Microsoft’s Surface computer division. Jeff Teper, corporate vice president of Teams collaboration products and other areas, will be responsible for taking over the MR software team and the Microsoft Mesh XR cloud service project. 

Metaverse shock: executives leave, teams disband, tearing down the east wall to make up for the west wall

▲The two major departments that will be joined after the Microsoft MR team is dismantled

At this point, Microsoft’s MR team was completely disbanded, the core person in charge left, and the team fell apart.

Judging from the latest restructuring plan, Microsoft’s Metaverse plan may still focus on the Windows operating system, and develop different hardware products to match it, and then cut into the hardware track in the Metaverse field. On the software side, Microsoft will focus on collaborative office software. At the same time, Microsoft’s resource investment in the Metaverse may decline. 

The “All in Metaverse” Meta chose a different path, and it chose to break up the AI ​​team. According to Meta’s disclosure on its official website on June 2, they plan to reorganize the AI ​​R&D team to supplement the “force” of the reality laboratory department that is mainly attacking the Metaverse. 

This change is mainly divided into two parts:

First, Meta’s AI responsibility organization will be merged into the social impact team; AI’s product team will be merged into the product engineering team.

Secondly, AI4AR team, AI research team FAIR (Facebook AI Research) will join the new pillar of Reality Labs Research.

Metaverse shock: executives leave, teams disband, tearing down the east wall to make up for the west wall

▲Organization adjustment information released by Meta official website

Meanwhile, Meta’s VP of AI, Jerome Pesenti, will leave in mid-June after helping the AI ​​team better integrate into various business lines. 

Meta calls this adjustment ” a new decentralized organizational structure for Meta AI”, which closely integrates AI technology, products and applications, and also goes deep into its Metaverse field. product development. 

The Reality Labs Research division, which specializes in the Metaverse, has once again consolidated its position in this restructuring . 

It is also a technology giant, a head player in the subdivision track, and the first person to seize the headset market in the VR/AR field. Microsoft and Meta seem to have chosen different paths at this time. 

Microsoft disbanded the XR team that focused on the Metaverse and dispersed it to various business lines, which means that Microsoft’s focus on the Metaverse has decreased. In the face of the Metaverse, Microsoft chose to take advantage of its existing cloud services and operating systems, and chose the opportunity to cut into the new business of the Metaverse.Meta chose to dismantle its AI team, strengthen the existing Metaverse team, and once again increase Meta’s concentration in the Metaverse field, trying to blaze a new path. 

04. Meta goes a different path

In the face of difficulties in business advancement and the collective departure of executives, both Microsoft and Meta encountered turbulent times on the road to explore the Metaverse, and the two giant companies also gave different solutions. 

On the road to the Metaverse, Meta has shown firm determination and imperative spirit, dismantling its AI team and integrating it into the Metaverse team, and shelving the development of some smart wearable devices. Microsoft, on the other hand, chose to integrate the MR team into its existing business by dismantling the MR team, still taking the existing business as its core direction. 

In this retreat, Meta, the top Metaverse player in the consumer market, and Microsoft, the most important Metaverse player in the enterprise market, have gone on completely different paths. Who made the better choice, perhaps only time will tell us the answer. 

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:
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