Meta-formerly-Facebook just laid off another 10,000 workers.
But as Insider points out, CEO Mark Zuckerburg’s latest announcement-slash-apology letter to his loyal Metamates, posted to Facebook on Tuesday, was missing one $15 billion-plus phrase: the metaverse.
The case of the missing metaverse wouldn’t be such a big deal if Zuckerberg hadn’t literally rebranded the entire company to follow his metaverse vision as Facebook’s extremely expensive “new North Star.”
To add insult to injury, though Zuck only made two off-handed mentions of the metaverse, he talked about investor-friendly artificial intelligence at great length — going as far as to say that AI is currently the company’s biggest focus.
“Our single largest investment is in advancing AI and building it into every one of our products,” the swashzuckling CEO wrote in his Facebook message. “We have the infrastructure to do this at unprecedented scale and I think the experiences it enables will be amazing.”
“Our leading work building the metaverse and shaping the next generation of computing platforms,” he continued, “also remains central to defining the future of social connection.”
Emphasis on “also.”
Baby Needs a Pacifier
In fact, Zuckerberg only referred to the metaverse after talking about AI. After all, it’s a savvy move, considering that uttering the phrase “AI” around investors is the Silicon Valley equivalent of shouting “squirrel!” at a dog park.
“We do leading work across a wide range of advanced technologies and then distill that into inspiring products that improve people’s lives,” the CEO wrote in his rambling post. “We do this with AI to help you creatively express yourself and discover new content, with the metaverse to deliver a realistic sense of presence.”
To that point, it’s not really surprising to see Zucko lean this hard into AI amid this new round of mass layoffs. His widely-mocked metaverse has come to be regarded as his number one pet project, and whether it actually pans out or ultimately remains dead in the water, it’s still years away from realization.
Or, perhaps, Zuckerberg is seeing the writing on the wall. Investors haven’t been happy, and they’ve made that clear.
The CEO is clearly finding AI to be a helpful pacifier for investor duress, and besides, Facebook still has plenty of cash to burn, despite the continuous layoffs.
Let’s just hope that Meta’s CEO doesn’t get too dizzy from all of these pivots.
READ MORE: Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse ambitions are shrinking [Insider]