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Mark Zuckerberg Wants Us to Spend Our Time, Money Trapped in His 'Metaverse' – Business Insider

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Silicon Valley loves to present the public with seemingly bold future visions enabled by new technologies that are just a few years away and will bring unimaginable benefits if only we can be patient and trust them. Last Thursday, in an act of desperation, Mark Zuckerberg pulled from that playbook to try to distract from critical reporting and growing calls for regulatory action against Facebook with the unveiling of the company’s new “north star”: the metaverse.
Zuckerberg presented himself as a modern-day hero trying to push society forward, while calling out Facebook’s critics by arguing that “for many people, I’m just not sure there will ever be a good time to focus on the future.” Instead, Facebook is making such a massive bet on its vision of the future it won’t even call itself Facebook anymore. As it switches to being “metaverse first,” the company is rebranding as Meta and investing billions to build the next stage of the internet.
But Zuckerberg’s 80-minute sales pitch couldn’t hide how the plan is, at its core, about making us spend more time (and money) in digital environments. The metaverse won’t be a social space, but a commercial one, and the pursuit of profit will compromise all the rosy promises being made while it’s still in the early concept phase.
After smartphones allowed the internet to move beyond the desk, proponents of the metaverse believe virtual and augmented reality will revolutionize how we use it once again. According to Zuckerberg, it will be “an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content — you are in it.” 
In physical space, layers of digital information such as virtual art installations or context about the key sites could be viewed through smartphones and maybe one day smart glasses, but the primary means of accessing the metaverse will be through virtual reality. People will be able to decorate their own home space and customize a personal avatar. From there, they’ll theoretically have access to innumerable virtual environments where they can play games and spend time with friends, or do work and remotely meet with colleagues. But, in truth, how it will all work is still pretty fuzzy.
Facebook’s visualizations tried to make the metaverse look fun and appealing. Zuckerberg is shown riding the waves on a surfboard, while another colleague floats in zero gravity in an outer space environment. Their avatars are depicted in third-person as though each person is actually doing and experiencing these things, but in reality, any user of virtual reality is alone, sitting in a chair somewhere with a large headset over their face and two small controllers in each hand. The animations are nothing more than concepts for something Facebook hopes to build, and, as consumers, we can’t let these hollow depictions cloud our perceptions of what the metaverse actually represents.
Zuckerberg isn’t simply pivoting to change the message that Facebook is harming societies the world over; he will eventually need to turn a profit. In recent years, threats to Facebook’s advertising business have been growing as Apple made it harder to track users, antitrust probes have targeted its advertising data, and more details have emerged about its collusion with Google. But over that same time, the notion of a Web3 that uses cryptocurrency to enable the commodification of digital goods, such as non-fungible tokens, has come into the mainstream, offering the prospect of massive new revenue streams for companies that can capitalize on it.
Venture capitalist Matthew Ball argues that even if the metaverse doesn’t live up to its boldest claims, “it is likely to produce trillions [of dollars] in value as a new computing platform or content medium.” The metaverse will provide media conglomerates a new way to mine intellectual property for virtual goods and experiences, similar to how Fortnite has brought together competing brands like Marvel and DC
Ball believes the metaverse will offer opportunities for new companies to emerge, as the early internet did, but he also acknowledges that “there are only a few likely leaders in the early Metaverse.” In short, the next stage of the internet being dreamed up by tech companies won’t address its concentrated nature — no matter how much it echoes the false promises of decentralization that have been made about the internet for decades.
For Zuckerberg, who hosted Ball for a live conversation on Facebook the day after his metaverse announcement, the metaverse will “remove the physical constraints” on commerce, opening a whole new realm of consumption and a new business model for the company. Its Oculus VR headsets will be necessary to access it, and once inside, people will be pushed to buy digital goods on a much greater scale than they have in the past.
Put it this way: We already need enough money to buy everything we require to survive and enjoy ourselves in the physical world, but now major corporations — along with emerging crypto companies — expect us to pay for a whole second existence in the digital realm. And those virtual goods, while they’ll take some work to model and animate, require no manufacturing and can be replicated virtually at zero cost — ensuring an incredibly high profit margin at scale. But while the commercial aspect of the metaverse is important to understand, we must also consider what it will mean in the physical world.
Google pioneered the model of the tech campus that takes after the university campus, providing meals, fitness opportunities, and a whole suite of other amenities so employees can remain focused on work, maximize productivity, and stay late at the office. In the past decade, the on-demand economy has been built around extending that beyond the workplace, so people can stay home and use Amazon or various gig services to have everything they need delivered.
Back in 2015, journalist Lauren Smiley was already calling this the “shut-in economy,” and during the pandemic we saw just how valuable it is to tech companies if we’re all at home and interfacing with the world almost exclusively through our devices and digital services. The tech giants saw their revenues and profits soar, proving that the more we can be forced to live digitally, the more lucrative it will be for the companies who control its dominant platforms. It isn’t hard to see that the metaverse is the next stage of turning us all into shut-ins.
At a moment when people are craving physical connection after being deprived of it through the pandemic, people like Zuckerberg want us to deepen our reliance on digital communication by further retreating from physical space and socializing in virtual worlds created and controlled by companies like Facebook — or Meta. Even though he wants us to believe the metaverse will be a welcoming social space, there’s more than enough reason to be skeptical.
Remember that Zuckerberg also promised Facebook would connect the world and that connection was an inherent good. He positions the metaverse as an extension of that project. Yet its very announcement is designed to get us to ignore from the accumulating evidence that Facebook has not had the positive social outcomes that were promised. It became a source of right-wing radicalization, disrupted democratic processes around the world, and made young people feel terrible about themselves. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. 
How would Meta address hate speech where Facebook has failed, or stifle the formation of far-right groups that threaten democracy? How would it ensure positive social interactions when its incentives would shift from selling the most ads to maximizing virtual good sales? These are important questions that Zuckerberg wants people to forget as he presents an idealized future virtual environment that may never materialize in the way he imagines.
We can’t allow Facebook’s pivot to distract from the harm it’s causing today, but we also can’t ignore the techno-capitalist future that Mark Zuckerberg wants to subject us to. In his keynote, he explained that the metaverse will take years to build and the company is open to developing a regulatory framework to head off criticism. But to do so would be to accept that Zuckerberg’s vision of the future is our collective vision. To me, herding people into virtual environments to serve the bottom lines of major corporations doesn’t sound like a great future.
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Lamina1 Presents Inaugural “Open Metaverse Conference” Connecting the Worlds of Blockchain and the Metaverse for a Next-Gen Internet – Business Wire

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Featuring a keynote from co-founder and futurist Neal Stephenson, the first-of-its-kind event aims to empower creators and coders to build the Open Metaverse together
LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Lamina1, a Layer 1 blockchain optimized for the Open Metaverse, today announced its role as founding sponsor of the Open Metaverse Conference, a first-of-its-kind industry event bringing together the worlds of the Metaverse and Web3 to build a more open and immersive Internet. The two-day conference will take place from February 8-9, 2023 in Los Angeles, California, and will gather experts and builders spanning Metaverse experiences, Web3, and entertainment.

Co-founded by Neal Stephenson, renowned futurist and science fiction author who originally coined the term “Metaverse,” and cryptocurrency pioneer Peter Vessenes, founder of the first VC-backed Bitcoin company, Lamina1 will provide the infrastructure to empower rapid expansion of the Open Metaverse. As the founding sponsor of the Open Metaverse Conference, Lamina1 will provide a forum for critical conversations around identity, privacy and interoperability, while exploring how audience engagement, creative storytelling, and the technicalities of blockchain can work hand-in-hand to make the vision of the Open Metaverse a reality.
The Open Metaverse Conference will feature keynotes from renowned technologists and storytellers who are pioneering visions for the next era of the Internet. Attendees will hear from Lamina1 co-founders Neal Stephenson and Peter Vessenes, as well as Philip Rosedale, founder of virtual world Second Life (Linden Lab) and co-founder of virtual platform High Fidelity, John Gaeta, Oscar-winning VFX pioneer (The Matrix) and CCO of character persona company Inworld AI, Cathy Hackl, Metaverse and Web3 strategist and founder of design consultancy Journey, and other industry crossover leaders to be announced. Keynote sessions will be complemented by diverse speakers and side events spanning games, art, entertainment, and commerce. To connect these key areas of culture with the technology that enables them, the Open Metaverse Conference will also facilitate technological deep dives for attendees from leaders in Web3, immersive computing, and technology standards groups. Presenting partners include the Metaverse Standards Forum, the Open Metaverse Interoperability Group, and the Open Metaverse Alliance for Web3 (OMA3), all organizations fostering interoperability.
“We are at a moment in time when developers, creatives, and producers can finally design the seamless and persistent experiences we’ve dreamed about,” said Jamil Moledina, Vice President of Games Partnerships and Media at Lamina1. “The Open Metaverse Conference will serve as the big tent for everyone who’s thinking about creating never-before-possible experiences that allow creators and consumers to enter unique virtual worlds on a level playing field.”
“OMA3 is pleased to collaborate with Lamina1 and the Open Metaverse Conference in promoting interoperability,” said Robby Yung, CEO of Animoca Brands. “OMA3 looks forward to developing talk tracks to encourage the creation of a more open and immersive internet.”
The conference will encourage interdisciplinary dialogue through debates, pitch sessions, roundtable discussions, and networking opportunities to help drive new ideas and connections.
“We felt a real sense of urgency to facilitate discussion with our colleagues and creators across the spectrum,” said Rebecca Barkin, President of Lamina1. “We know that the Open Metaverse will be built collaboratively and with a set of shared values, and we’re happy to provide this forum to address the needs of the community and to solve big problems together.”
For more information on the Open Metaverse Conference, visit www.openmetaverseconf.com.
About Open Metaverse Conference 
The Open Metaverse Conference (OMC) is an industry-first event presented by Lamina1 focused on bringing together the Metaverse and blockchain technology. The conference gathers key stakeholders spanning developers, creatives, producers, product owners, and executives to ask and address big questions around the development of a truly Open Metaverse that leverages open-source, collaborative principles and blockchain decentralization.
About Lamina1 
Lamina1 is a Layer1 blockchain optimized for the Open Metaverse. The brainchild of legendary futurist Neal Stephenson (who first conceptualized the term “Metaverse” in his 1992 best-selling novel Snow Crash) and Peter Vessenes, a foundational leader in the crypto space from the early days of Bitcoin – Lamina1 is on a mission to deliver the blockchain technology, interoperating tools, and decentralized services that will establish it as the preferred destination for creators building a more immersive Internet. It is the first provably carbon-negative blockchain in the world.
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kc.maas@wachsman.com
K.C. Maas
Wachsman
kc.maas@wachsman.com

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Facebook Founder, Zuckerberg Drops Out Of 10 Richest Men After Losing Half Of Fortunes – SaharaReporters.com

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According to Forbes, the Facebook founder has lost more than half his fortune—a staggering $76.8 billion—since September 2021, dropping him from No. 3 on The Forbes 400 list of the U.S.’ wealthiest people to No. 11. Worth $57.7 billion on this year’s list.
 
Meta chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg has lost his spot in the list as one of the 10 richest people in America.
According to Forbes, the Facebook founder has lost more than half his fortune—a staggering $76.8 billion—since September 2021, dropping him from No. 3 on The Forbes 400 list of the U.S.’ wealthiest people to No. 11. Worth $57.7 billion on this year’s list.
Zuck trails Walmart heir Jim Walton, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and other tech moguls such as ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. No one in America has lost as much money over the past year as Zuckerberg.
He has the cratering stock price of Meta (formerly Facebook) to thank for his exit from the top 10. Shares have plunged 57% since last year’s Forbes 400, which used stock prices from September 3, 2021. Tech stocks are generally in a slump with the market downturn, but Meta’s fall outpaces both the Nasdaq (-9.8%) and the S&P 500 (-13.5%), as well as Microsoft’s 14% decline, Google-parent Alphabet‘s 25% drop and Amazon’s 27% dive.
Investors are spooked by a privacy policy update from Apple last year that made it harder for tech companies to track users across apps, impacting Meta’s ad sales. Meta reported its first-ever quarterly revenue decline in July–a 1% drop, to $28.8 billion.
“Facebook makes most of its money from advertising, and now it just doesn’t have that data anymore,” says Mark Zgutowicz, an analyst at research and investment banking firm Benchmark.
“All those data signals went away, which basically means that advertisers are having trouble telling whether a campaign was successful or not.”
Compounding the problem for Meta, TikTok is luring away advertisers, along with lucrative Gen Z and millennial users. In February, Meta announced its first-ever quarterly loss of daily active users. A recent internal report showed that Meta’s TikTok clone, Instagram Reels, is struggling to compete, according to Wall Street Journal report.
Under normal circumstances, a slight dip in revenue might be manageable, but Meta is also investing heavily in virtual reality and the metaverse, which is dragging down operating profit. In 2021, the company’s metaverse division, Meta Reality Labs, lost $10 billion. While the metaverse is all Zuckerberg wants to talk about, investors are less enthusiastic so far. “It’s a long tail investment and, for now, it’s kind of a cash suck,” Zgutowicz says.
Zuckerberg first became a billionaire in 2008, just four years after founding Facebook. At 23, he was the youngest self-made billionaire at the time, debuting at No. 321 on The Forbes 400, worth $1.5 billion. By 2011, Zuckerberg’s net worth had increased nearly 12 fold to $17.5 billion.
This year isn’t the first time Zuckerberg’s net worth has taken a dive. After Facebook’s famously disappointing IPO in 2012, Zuckerberg fell from No. 14 to No. 36 on The Forbes 400. But it didn’t last long. The following year, Zuckerberg bounced back and, up until now, his fortune has continued to climb. Despite the litany of controversies and scandals plaguing the company, Facebook’s ad machine had reliably churned out enough money to impress investors, sending Zuckerberg’s net worth soaring to $134.5 billion last year, his highest net worth ever.
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Disney CEO Bob Chapek plotting a metaverse for Disney+ that will recreate their parks online – Daily Mail

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By Alex Oliveira For Dailymail.Com
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Disney is plotting a metaverse that would let people experience the most magical place on earth without ever setting foot in the theme park.
CEO Bob Chapek said the media giant’s metaverse would exist on its streaming platform, Disney+, and allow ‘the 90 percent of people that will never ever be able to get to a Disney park,’ to experience it in virtual reality.
‘We call it next-gen storytelling’ Chapek said in an interview with Deadline, noting that he didn’t like use the phrase metaverse ‘because it has a lot of hair on it.’
But regardless of whatever Chapek prefers to call the planned platform, many have responded by calling the move out of touch with Disney’s fanbase, and argued that if the parks stopped hiking prices more people would be able to visit.  
The move comes as Chapek – who took the helm at Disney in 2020 – struggles to make a name for himself in the shadow of his innovative predecessor, Bob Iger, and keep afloat amid controversies ranging from the park’s rising prices, to Disney’s stance on Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill. 
Just last week, Chapek broke a months-long silence on an apology he issued in an attempt to quell Disney staff who were outraged by his failure to speak out against the controversial bill last spring, saying he chose to remain mum on the matter because he didn’t want to get Disney caught in a ‘political subterfuge.’ 
Disney CEO Bob Chapek said the media giant’s metaverse would exist on its streaming platform, Disney+, and allow people to experience park rides in virtual reality
Disney’s metaverse move comes as Chapek – who took the helm at Disney in 2020 – struggles to make a name for himself in the shadow of his innovative predecessor, Bob Iger
Chapek characterized the Disney metaverse as a way to experience the theme parks for the multitudes of people who are unable to actually make the trip in person.
‘We wish every person would have the opportunity to come to our parks, but we realize that’s not a reality for some people,’ he told Deadline, ‘we have before us an opportunity to turn what was a movie-service platform to an experiential platform and give them the ability to ride Haunted Mansion from a virtual standpoint.’
He said metaverse users would have an experience beyond what regular parkgoers have, and be able to step out of the ride-cars to explore sets and interact with characters. 
‘Maybe we’ll give them the opportunity what every single person in the park wants to do, and unfortunately too many of them do it, just to get off the attraction. See how it works, see how those ghost dancers move,’ he said. 

But many responded to the news by saying if Disney would just stop raising its prices, more of those 90 percent of people who cannot visit the parks would be able to.
‘Damn Disney. Just say it direct like that,’ wrote tech critic Juan Carlos Bagnell on Twitter, ‘90% of the HUMAN POPULATION is too poor to visit our parks, but hopefully some are less-poor-enough to own VR goggles and ride our rides in a metaverse clone…’
Commenters on the Deadline interview were equally unimpressed, with one saying ‘The reason 90% of people may not be able to experience the parks is because you keep hiking the cost of GOING to the parks beyond what most people can actually afford, Bob.’
‘Costs are up at the parks. Moral appears to be down. Iger had imagination and could adapt,’ said another.

Disney park prices have skyrocketed since Chapek was fully given charge at Disney in 2022. At California parks, ticket prices jumped 6 percent to $164 for single-park passes, while the price of getting into more than one park over the course of a day rose 9 percent to $319.
At the Florida parks the price to get into the park after 2pm rose to $169, while before 2pm fans were asked to fork over $194. Those prices could also rise based on an increased demand on any day.
‘If you’re the kind of person that budgets or saves for vacations, Disney Parks aren’t for you any longer,’ wrote a fed-up customer on Reddit, ‘That’s a Premium Physical Experience, and there’s plenty of national and international wealthy families to afford going indefinitely.’
And in August, as inflation scorched the US economy, Chapek warned those prices could continue to rise.
‘It’s all up to the consumer,’ he said, according to The New York Post, ‘If consumer demand keeps up, we’ll act accordingly.’
Disney’s metaverse would allow people to experience park rides like the Haunted Mansion without ever setting foot in Disney World
Chapek noted the virtual reality experience could go beyond simply sitting in the car and experiencing the ride the way park-goers do, but would allow people to step off of the tracks and explore the ride sets up close
Chapek has hardly been the happiest CEO on Earth since he took the reins at Disney.
After beginning his tenure in February, 2020, he was thrust immediately into the chaos of navigating Disney through the perils of the pandemic, which saw the media company’s primary revenue streams – theme park revenue and movie theater tickets – vanish like a pair of glass slippers at midnight.
To help steady the ship, Iger – much to Chapek’s ire, reportedly – was kept on in a leadership position through 2021.
But as soon as Chapek was given full control in 2022 his price hikes had customers raising eyebrows about whether he was up to the same scratch as the visionary Iger.
Those doubts were doubled-down on by Disney staff after Chapek decided to remain quiet on Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill, a law which barred schools from discussing sexuality or gender with children between kindergarten and third grade.
Many Disney employees viewed the law as homophobic and an affront to the inclusive values of Disney, and publicly voiced their outrage that Chapek did not speak out against it.
Chapek said the metaverse would also work in conjunction with real-world visits to Disney theme parks
Disney is plotting a metaverse that would let people experience the most magical place on earth without ever setting foot in the theme park
He later apologized to staff, publicly decried the bill, and announced Disney had paused all its political donations within Florida.
Last week, Chapek addressed that apology for the first time since he issued it, saying he had struggled to balance the needs and beliefs of every one of his employees and customers.
‘What we try to do is be everything to everybody,’ Chapek told The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview, ‘That tends to be very difficult because we’re The Walt Disney Company.’
‘We certainly don’t want to get caught up in any political subterfuge, but at the same time we also realize that we want to represent a brighter tomorrow for families of all types, regardless of how they define themselves,’ he said.

Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group

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