Recruit Zhang Yiming and ByteDance to step into the Metaverse

ByteDance is hiring on a massive scale for its VR business Pico.

Server-side development engineer, ergonomics expert, visual perception algorithm engineer, software tester, battery expert… Open the official website of ByteDance recruitment, “Chinese Entrepreneur” found that as of March 15, Pico has up to 291 recruitment positions , distributed in Beijing, Shanghai, Qingdao and other regions.

In August 2021, ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming spent $1.5 billion to acquire Pico, a VR all-in-one maker, and completed internal integration within a few months. At a time when rumors of layoffs by major Internet companies continue, Pico has become one of the few businesses within ByteDance that is still expanding its recruitment.

“Pico is now a rare pastry, with more resources, more HC (Head Count, recruitment places), and more money.” An internal ByteDance employee told “Chinese Entrepreneur”. Liang Rubo, the new CEO of ByteDance, also attaches great importance to the Pico business.

Regarding the transfer of the company’s management, according to LatePost, following Ren Lifeng, the head of Watermelon Video, Song Binghua, the head of Douyin Variety Show, and Wu Zuomin, the director of Douyin Entertainment, will be transferred to Pico.

“Chinese Entrepreneur” learned that around the Spring Festival in 2022, ByteDance also organized an in-app purchase of Pico, and the half-price discount for in-app purchases attracted many employees to participate. ByteDance has set a target for Pico’s annual sales: over one million units.

Enthusiasm from within is also carried to the outside. From the outside, after the start of 2022, the pace of ByteDance’s VR layout has also accelerated significantly.

On March 1, at the 2022MWC (World Mobile Communications Conference), Qualcomm announced its cooperation with ByteDance. The two parties will cooperate in the development of hardware devices, software platforms and developer tools. It is reported that this cooperation is mainly aimed at the development of XR (Extended Reality) technology, and the goal is to develop the global XR ecosystem.

It is worth noting that the giants are also in action. On the same day, Apple’s patent for “face joint and head-mounted XR display” was authorized; Qualcomm has also reached cooperation with a number of XR software and hardware manufacturers, such as Zuckerberg’s Meta Quest 2 and other VR headsets. Using Qualcomm XR dedicated chip.Qualcomm President and CEO Cristiano Amon (Cristiano Amon) believes that “this (VR) is an opportunity that may be as huge as the mobile phone market.”

Zuckerberg led the way, and Pico backed it up. Behind the huge capital investment, ByteDance urgently needs to launch various big moves such as recruitment, management, and external cooperation, and increase investment in hardware, games, social networking, and multimedia content and other aspects closely related to the Metaverse, in order to establish a complete The ecology of , travels the way for the Metaverse.

Group pet Pico

In August 2021, when Zhang Yiming spent $1.5 billion to acquire Pico, a VR all-in-one machine manufacturer, it was hard not to recall the scene in 2014. That year, Facebook spent $2 billion to acquire VR equipment developer Oculus, launched a new VR social platform Horizon, and announced in October 2016 that it would invest $500 million to support the Oculus content ecosystem.

In October 2021, Zuckerberg changed Facebook’s name to Meta (taken from the Metaverse Metaverse), showing the outside world his determination to enter the Metaverse. Before that, Zuckerberg had said he would transform Facebook into a Metaverse company within the next five years. Meta’s standalone VR headset, the Oculus Quest 2, launched in 2020 and has sold more than 10 million units.

In contrast, Pico is the hope Zhang Yiming sees in China. Founded in April 2015, Pico has developed products including Pico Neo 3VR all-in-one, Pico VR glasses and Tracking Kit tracking kits.

At the same time, Pico, like ByteDance, is also a very globalized company with a team of more than 300 people, with branches in Tokyo, San Francisco, Barcelona, ​​Gyeonggi-do, an office in Hong Kong, and offline sales channels. Covering seven regions and more than forty domestic cities.

In addition, Pico’s hardware production capacity and level are also envied by the outside world, and it has almost become one of the few companies left in the last wave of VR to survive the cold winter of capital.

Zhou Hongwei, the founder of Pico, was a Goertek executive and worked for Goertek for 10 years, mainly responsible for the hardware R&D team in Qingdao. At present, Goertek is both a shareholder of Pico and a supplier of Pico. The optics and hardware of all Pico products are provided by Goertek. What’s more worth mentioning is that Goertek is also the main foundry of Meta’s Oculus Quest series.

In the 2021 semi-annual report previously released by Goertek, it also specifically listed the VR sector in the financial report. Goertek explained, “Compared with the same period last year, the main reason is that the company’s VR virtual reality and other products have increased in sales revenue. , profitability improved.”

In May 2021, Pico released a new generation of VR all-in-one machine, Pico Neo 3, with sales exceeding 10 million yuan within 24 hours. It is understood that Pico has now included 349 authorized patents, covering image, acoustics, optics, hardware and structural design, underlying optimization of operating systems, spatial positioning and motion tracking and other core VR technology fields.

“Pico is indeed the hope of the current domestic VR field, but in terms of device experience, Pico’s products are still far behind Oculus in terms of hardware, systems, algorithms, ecology, etc. In addition, the current sales of terminal devices are actually largely It is influenced and driven by the IP content ecology, and the content ecology of ByteDance is still under construction.” A game industry practitioner who has experienced many VR all-in-one machines told “Chinese Entrepreneur”.

As we all know, in the field of intelligent hardware, the active voice of important components such as chips and the closeness of cooperation with suppliers affect the quality of hardware. The latest partnership with Qualcomm means that Pico is expected to improve the experience of its hardware devices.

According to a report by the market research agency IDC, in 2021, Pico’s domestic market share will exceed 50%, ranking first. Followed by Dapeng VR, iQiyi VR and HTC VIVE. But globally, Oculus has a 70% market share.

Build a content ecosystem

The acquisition of Pico is only the first step in ByteDance’s layout of the Metaverse. In addition to hardware, users need rich scenes and content to purchase VR and other devices. This is also an important reason why ByteDance transferred Ren Lifeng, head of watermelon video, Song Binghua, head of Douyin variety show, and Wu Zuomin, director of Douyin entertainment, to Pico.

Although ByteDance has not yet established an obvious advantage in video content production, its determination to build a content ecosystem that matches Pico can be seen from the adjustment of the management.

Talking about the importance of content ecology to Metaverse manufacturers, an Internet investor analyzed to “Chinese Entrepreneur”: “Looking at the main players in the current Metaverse arena, they can be roughly divided into two categories: the first category, the three Internet Companies, Meta (acquiring Oculus), Tencent (acquiring Black Shark), and ByteDance (acquiring Pico); in the second category, three console companies: Nintendo (Switch), Sony (PS), and Microsoft (Xbox + Activision Blizzard). The basic routine of the first three Internet companies is to form an operational capability integrating software, hardware and content through acquisitions to compete with game console companies.”

On January 18, 2022, Microsoft shocked the entire gaming industry by acquiring the gaming company Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. In the minutes of the acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft CEO Nadella mentioned the Metaverse many times, such as “Games are the most dynamic and exciting category of entertainment on all platforms today, and will also play a role in the development of the Metaverse platform. key role”.

At present, Microsoft has launched the HoloLens series of enterprise-level MR headsets on hardware, providing MR solutions for the industry and allowing enterprises to customize. The consumer-grade AR headset HoloLens 3 is expected to come out in the next 2-3 years.

If you look back at Zuckerberg’s road to the Metaverse, it may have more reference for ByteDance.

In December 2021, Zuckerberg released a virtual reality app called Horizon World, a social platform with Metaverse significance for users to create content and interact in it. Before that, in August 2021, Zuckerberg also launched Horizon Workrooms, a remote office software that allows users to enter virtual workspaces through Oculus VR devices.

At the same time, Zuckerberg also paid great attention to the construction of the content ecology. In November 2019, Meta-owned Oculus acquired Beat Games, the developer of the VR music game Beat Saber. In February 2020, Meta acquired Sanzaru Games, a virtual reality game developer. In the game industry, the importance of “Rhythm Lightsaber” to the current VR equipment is equivalent to that of “Ninja Cut Fruit” to the iPhone at that time.

The emphasis on content ecology is gradually becoming Meta’s obvious advantage.

During the Q4 2021 earnings call, Mike Verdu, head of Meta content, revealed that since the Oculus Quest platform was released in 2019, the Quest content platform has surpassed $1 billion in revenue, and more than 120 games have been created on the platform. more than $1 million in revenue.

Of course, Pico is not the only Metaverse layout of ByteDance. As early as April 2021, ByteDance invested 100 million yuan in Code Qiankun, a game developer known as the “Chinese version of Roblox”, whose representative work is “Restart the World”.

Although the game business of ByteDance started in 2018, it has significantly accelerated the layout of the game business in the past two years. Through acquisition + self-organization, ByteDance has quickly built its own game team, and its momentum in content development cannot be underestimated; By means of Douyin topic words and other means, ByteDance has released a variety of games.

Regarding its determination to build a software and hardware ecosystem, ByteDance once stated that the acquisition of Pico will support its long-term investment in the VR field, and absorb the advantages of Pico’s software, hardware, talents and expertise, and gradually deepen its presence in the Metaverse field. long-term investment. In terms of funding, ByteDance has raised $1 billion for Metaverse development, seeking its own Metaverse platform amid the escalating competition among internet giants.

Future market prospects

The popularity of the Metaverse is attracting more and more manufacturers to join this battlefield.

At the beginning of 2022, according to 36Kr report, Tencent plans to acquire Black Shark Technology, a gaming mobile phone company. After the acquisition, Black Shark will be merged into the business group led by Tencent Chief Operating Officer Ren Yuxin. It is reported that after the completion of the acquisition, Black Shark Technology will carry out business transformation, and the business focus will shift from gaming mobile phones to VR devices as a whole.

From the point of view of profit in the financial report, Tencent is already the largest game company in the world. Whether it can cooperate with Black Shark to make enough hardware explosions is very important for Tencent’s layout in the Metaverse. After all, Ma Huateng, founder of Tencent, also had high expectations for the world of the Metaverse.

At the end of 2020, Ma Huateng wrote in Tencent’s annual special issue “Three Views”: “Now, an exciting opportunity is coming, the mobile Internet has developed for ten years, and the next wave of upgrades is about to be ushered in, which we call it. ‘Full-real Internet’… The door to the virtual world and the real world has been opened, and whether it is from virtual to real, or from real to virtual, we are all committed to helping users achieve a more real experience.” He also emphasized that the real Internet It is Tencent’s “next battle that must be won”.

However, this is not the first wave of VR. As early as around 2014, there was a wave of boom in the domestic Internet, but with the subsequent cold winter, the smoke of gunpowder dissipated.

“Before 2020, the software and hardware of VR/AR are not mature enough. For example, the dizziness brought to users by the hardware is the biggest problem, which greatly affects the game experience. In addition, the platform is very limited, only Steam, Oculus PC and VIVE are three. Dominance, and there are even very few playable applications.” The above-mentioned game industry practitioner told “Chinese Entrepreneur”.

Today, VR is making a comeback with the help of the Metaverse, because after 2020, Pico, Side Quest, APP Lab and Oculus Quest have successively launched platforms, and developers have vigorously expanded their application projects, of which Steam has more than 6,000 VR applications.

IDC data shows that global VR device shipments are accelerating, and it is expected that global VR headset shipments will maintain a compound annual growth rate of 41% from 2021 to 2025. Shipments are expected to increase from 6.7 million in 2020 to 8.5 million in 2021, and 28.6 million in 2025.

In addition, HSBC predicts that from 2021 to 2030, the structure of VR/AR applications will undergo a huge reversal, from game-dominated to social-dominated. HSBC predicts that the VR market will reach US$45 billion in 2030, social networking VR applications will reach US$30.2 billion, accounting for 70% of the total VR demand, and gaming applications will reach US$9 billion.

In the context of the dying Internet economy, the Metaverse has become the future that the big Internet companies are chasing. Before the grand picture rolls out, ByteDance first needs an admission ticket.

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