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Facebook's metaverse is its best PR campaign ever – Quartz

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Frances Haugen had a robust public relations strategy—and it worked. The Facebook product manager-turned-whistleblower released volumes of internal company documents, first to The Wall Street Journal and then to a consortium of prestige media outlets. The rollout was timed, closely guarded, and executed gradually for maximum impact. Haugen started leaking anonymously before appearing on 60 Minutes in October, casting herself as a selfless corporate dissident in the process.
The Facebook leaks dominated the news from September until November, which is a testament to Haugen’s campaign: To anyone paying attention to Facebook recently, the revelations largely confirmed pre-existing suspicions and scandals. Haugen was able to show that the company gives priority treatment to high-profile accounts that break its rules, that Instagram is harmful to teen girls, that Facebook’s products make people angry, and that it has done little to stem violent content outside the US. In response, Facebook mounted an aggressive defense, which numerous former employees criticized publicly. Media scholar Siva Vaidhyanathan called the ordeal Facebook’s “most devastating PR catastrophe yet.”
Then Facebook stopped talking about Haugen—and started talking about the metaverse.
Depending on who you ask, the metaverse is either an overhyped fiction or the next iteration of the internet, one you can currently kind of experience through a virtual reality headset. For Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the metaverse is a shiny future straight from science fiction—so shiny that he decided to metamorphose Facebook into an entity called Meta Platforms Inc., a “metaverse company” with an Asimovian name. Having failed to change the subject, Facebook simply opted to change itself.
There’s no doubt that Zuckerberg is serious about building the metaverse. Meta can no longer rely on acquisitions to expand its business, and the renaming signals to investors that financial runway will be needed to build up Oculus, the VR platform Facebook bought for $2.3 billion in 2014. But the metaverse Zuckerberg is imagining is nothing like the one he has now. In a presentation to more than 3 billion users in October, Meta largely showed vaporware: software and experiences that do not yet exist.
The metaverse does have real promise. It could be used for training simulations, technical assistance, and immersive video chat. It could revolutionize education, gaming, and certainly porn. But will people spend all day in the metaverse? Can VR actually amplify real-life experiences? All of that remains philosophically and technologically unresolved.
To have a shared persistent virtual world that’s accessible wherever we go, we’ll need infinitely more computing power, infinitely better cloud capacity, and infinitely better broadband access. We’ll need cheap virtual-reality and augmented-reality hardware that can fit a supercomputer behind a thin layer of glass. (The Oculus Quest 2 sells for $299, and that’s on the cheaper end.) We’ll also need private corporations to commit to unprecedented levels of cooperation. The internet and web were largely built by the US government and research funded by it; the metaverse would be built by Meta, NVIDIA, Intel, and all of the other companies talking about it.
The yawning gap between the current metaverse and the one imagined by Meta doesn’t seem to be hurting the company. On Christmas, the Oculus app was the most downloaded on Apple and Google’s app marketplaces, suggesting the VR headset was a popular gift, particularly with other video-game consoles in short supply.
It seems that while Zuckerberg’s Meta pivot was technically premature, it was also immeasurably deft. By plunging Facebook into the metaverse conversation, he changed the company’s coverage entirely, in a way both tech and media could justify as consequential. After all, if the metaverse is going to be built, and Meta wants to build that metaverse in its image, to its liking, and for its financial benefit—that’s too big a story to ignore.
Frances Haugen captivated the tech press for months, but the contents of her leaks addressed questions within the bounds of contemporary debate: How do we keep people safe on Facebook’s apps? How do we control Facebook’s outsized influence in society? Ironically, the consequences of abuse, mismanagement, perversion, and sheer corporate dominance are potentially much more serious if Facebook builds the metaverse it’s imagining. Meta could be much more powerful than Facebook ever was.
Once the breathless coverage of Meta’s metaverse plans ends, the reality checks will begin. One collective metaverse is unlikely, but a drastic expansion of Facebook’s size, scope, and power should give everyone pause, and will perhaps change the conversation yet again.
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Metaverse Crypto Index Fund Launched by Matthew Ball, Multicoin, and Bitwise – Decrypt

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There's a wide array of crypto builders working to bring the metaverse to life, whether it's via platforms, tools, assets, or infrastructure. Now one of the leading voices around the metaverse has launched an index fund focused on crypto assets tied to the next-generation internet.
Today, writer and venture capitalist Matthew Ball announced a partnership with Multicoin Capital and Bitwise Asset Management to launch the Ball Multicoin Bitwise Metaverse Index. Bitwise has also made an associated fund available to qualified purchasers.
"We developed the Ball Multicoin Bitwise Metaverse Index Fund because, prior to today, there was no easy, expert, and methodologically diversified way for investors to have broad-based exposure to bona fide metaverse-focused crypto assets," Ball told Decrypt.
"To this end, the Index doesn't exist to time Event A or Market Conditions B. It exists so that investors can participate in what we believe is a multi-trillion dollar transformation, which will unfold over the coming decade," he continued. "If blockchain is relevant to the future of the metaverse, and our approach is sound, we believe the opportunity is significant—today, tomorrow, next month, and so forth."
The index will feature up to 40 crypto assets chosen by the partners, but a list of included assets was not provided to Decrypt by the time of publication. Bitwise's associated fund is available to qualified purchasers with a $100,000 minimum investment.
Ball described the Ball Multicoin Bitwise Metaverse Index as a "rules-driven index that combines the best of institutional indexing approaches with special adaptations to the crypto and metaverse spaces. That includes various risk screens, such as analyzing liquidity, developer activity, tech and regulatory risk, and "relevancy to the metaverse," said Ball.
"The ultimate goal is to curate the crypto assets that will be outsized contributors to the creation and success of an open metaverse," he added.
The metaverse refers to a future version of the internet that many believe will be built on blockchain technology. It's expected to be a more immersive and interactive experience that people navigate via 3D avatars and use for work, play, shopping, and socializing. It may also use NFT assets for user-owned items like avatars, apparel, and virtual land.
Ethereum-based games like Decentraland and The Sandbox are seen as early examples of the metaverse.
Facebook also showcased its own vision for the space and even rebranded its parent company to Meta last fall. However, it's not entirely clear whether Facebook's plan is for an open platform that is interoperable with others.
Ball is a leading writer on the metaverse whose work has been published in The New York Times, The Economist, and Bloomberg. His book, "The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything," is due out from W.W. Norton in July.
He's also a managing partner at EpyllionCo, which has invested in crypto startups such as Dapper Labs and Mirror, as well as a venture partner at Makers Fund. Ball is also behind the Roundhill Ball Metaverse ETF, which focuses on metaverse-centric stocks and trades on the New York Stock Exchange.
"Our objective was the creation of a diversified, balanced, and expertly-designed crypto Metaverse Index," explained Multicoin Capital co-founder and managing partner, Kyle Samani.
"This required a similarly capable team," he continued. "Matthew Ball is the definitive thought-leader in metaverse strategy and investing. We specialize in crypto assets and are one of the preeminent crypto investment firms. And Bitwise Asset Management is the proven leader in crypto indexes and index funds."

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Meta's losses show the metaverse's costly risk – Insider Intelligence

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Facebook parent Meta launches startup accelerator with India’s IT ministry in metaverse push – TechCrunch

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Meta Platforms is looking at India’s burgeoning startup ecosystem as it bolsters its bet on the metaverse. The social juggernaut has partnered with the Indian IT Ministry’s startup hub to launch an accelerator in the country to broaden innovation in emerging technologies, including augmented reality and virtual reality, officials said Tuesday.
MeitY Startup Hub and Meta’s effort, called XR Startup Program, will work with 40 early-stage startups and help them in research and development and developing workable products and services. Each startup will also receive a grant of over $25,000, the American giant said.
The program, supported by Meta’s $50 million XR Programs and Research Fund, will initially hand pick 80 startups to attend a bootcamp. It will also help startups with finding customers, inking relationships and raising funds, Meta said.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, said the program is especially aimed at helping encourage technology innovation in smaller cities and towns.
The XR Startup Program is the latest of Meta’s growing participation in the South Asian market’s upskilling efforts. The firm, whose Facebook and WhatsApp services identify India as their largest market by users, partnered with Central Board of Secondary Education, a government body that oversees education in private and public schools in the country, to launch a certified curriculum on digital safety and online well-being, and augmented reality for students and educators in the country.
The program — to be implemented by four Indian institutions, including IIT Delhi — will also host a “grand challenge” for innovation in categories including education, healthcare, entertainment, agritech, climate action, sustainability and tourism, the American giant said.
“India will play a pivotal role in defining future technologies. Decisions and investments made here in India now shape global discussions on how technology can deliver more economic opportunity and better outcomes for people. It is critical that we help to create an ecosystem that will enable India’s tech startups and innovators to build the foundations of the metaverse,” said Joel Kaplan, VP of Global Policy at Meta, in a statement.
Meta’s interest with working with startups in India is also not newly found. The company has backed three startups in the country, including social commerce platform Meesho and online education group Unacademy.
3 views: Is the metaverse for work or play?

“India’s rapid tech adoption combined with a vast pool of tech talent puts the country in a vantage position for shaping the future of the internet,” said Ajit Mohan, VP and MD of Facebook India, in a statement.
“For this future to be equitable, it will require active participation from all stakeholders, including developers, businesses, creators, policymakers, and entrepreneurs. We are excited to collaborate with MeitY Startup Hub and hope that the XR Startup Program will act as a catalyst to unlock the use of immersive technology across sectors like education, healthcare, agritech and tourism, not only in India but across the globe.”

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