Here's what 14 top executives are saying about the 'metaverse'
- Tech leaders are increasingly using the vague term "metaverse" in earnings calls with investors.
- Many are following the lead of Meta, who announced it would be focusing on building the metaverse.
- Executives had different expectations for what the "metaverse" will be when questioned in earnings calls.
The "metaverse" has become a hot topic for executives, analysts, and investors alike, being mentioned in the earnings calls of more than 15 companies in the past few months alone.
As the tech world grapples with what the metaverse will actually look like, several executives have started weaving mentions of it into discussion with investors. However, their remarks indicate they are still fairly unsure of what specifically the metaverse is and how it functions.
While Facebook's recent rebranding to Meta helped increase awareness of the metaverse and propelled it to a topic of global conversation, even CEO Mark Zuckerberg only has a vague notion of the definition of the metaverse.
"The best way to understand the metaverse is to experience it yourself, but it's a little tough because it doesn't fully exist yet," Zuckerberg said at a conference last month.
Some companies are divided on whether it represents a real virtual space or if it's just a concept, while others are unsure if a metaverse will ever actually exist and are weary of the nebulous technology.
Analysts at Morgan Stanley said the metaverse could represent an $8 trillion opportunity, but it would be a challenge to get people interested in using it. Augmented reality and artificial intelligence experts also told Insider that a metaverse could drastically amplify society's political polarization.
Still, companies are willing to make large investments in the metaverse, even if they don't fully understand it yet. The space is expected to be worth $82 billion by 2025, according to The Information, and companies plan to expand their goods and services into the experimental virtual space.
Here's what some company executives are saying about the metaverse, and what they intend to do with it.
The real-time video platform just announced a network product that would "accelerate any kind of data, not just video or audio, and for any application, whether it's gaming, e-commerce, collaboration, or metaverse," according to CEO Tony Zhao.
"Recently, we have seen an accelerating trend of real-time engagement in extended reality environment, creating the infrastructure of metaverse," Zhao said in a November call with investors. "Our plan is to further enhance our capabilities in these areas and become an instrumental infrastructure provider for metaverse."
"Metaverse is a concept, it's not a product," Bilibili CEO Rui Chen said in a call with investors on Wednesday, suggesting elements of the metaverse have existed for a long time, but companies are only now jumping onboard.
"I think that if someone hears the concept of metaverse and decided to get into this business, probably would be a little bit too late," Chen said. "When we talk about metaverse, we think this is not something that can be done by a singular company. You need to have massive content production capability to produce another world."
Bumble plans to build new engagement and community relationships for users "through the communities they build, the virtual goods and experiences they acquire or through new ways of owning their identity as they navigate the metaverse," CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd said in an earnings call in November.
"Built on blockchain technology, we believe [Bumble BFF] will enable a level of participation and empowerment that will make our mission come to life," Herd said. "In the near term, this means new engagement, participation and creator models."
Coinbase COO Emilie Choi said in a November earnings call that the company had been spending "a lot of time" developing the metaverse alongside blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, and NFTs, which are being used by "tens of millions of Americans."
"We think there's just an abundance of innovation in this space, and we want to keep doubling down on those opportunities," Choi said in the call.
Dolby laboratories said it sees potential of the metaverse to integrate with its technology, particularly when it comes to auditory features.
"I think the metaverse can take many forms, but ultimately, it is an audiovisual experience," CEO Kevin Yeman said in an earnings call on Tuesday, noting he hopes to integrate it with their Dolby.io technology. "I think some of our developers, they even define themselves as virtual environments and maybe, by extension, the metaverse."
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg announced the company was changing its name to Meta in a push to focus its attention on the metaverse. Zuckerberg previously said Meta's first venture into the metaverse would be focused on building a virtual reality workspace, where employees could interact in virtual meetings.
"You can think about the metaverse as an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content — you are in it," Zuckerberg told The Verge.
Match Group CEO Sharmistha Dubey said in an earnings call in November she imagines using metaverse features for the company's dating apps, like "a piano bar where people's digital selves are gathering around, but they're actually playing their pianos at home and jamming with others."
"It is metaverse experiences coming to life in a way that is transformative to how people meet and get to know each other on a dating or social discovery platform and is much more akin to how people interact in the real world," Dubey said.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella touted the company's new Azure service in its earnings call in July to help decentralize computing, with companies like Campbell Soup, L'Oréal, and SAP migrating to its service.
"As the digital and physical worlds converge, we are leading in a new layer of the infrastructure stack, the 'enterprise metaverse," Nadella said.
The Chinese tech entertainment company said the company is "technologically ready" for a move into the metaverse space.
"The metaverse is indeed the new buzzword everywhere today. But then, on the other hand, I think nobody has actually had firsthand experience in what it is," Margaret Shi, NetEase head of investor relations, said on a November earnings call.
Roblox has been frequently cited as an example of a potential metaverse model. Roblox CEO David Baszucki said in an earnings call in June that the company is driven to "really participating in inventing and shepherding in the metaverse in an innovative way."
"When we think about the metaverse and what Roblox is, we do think of it as a utility," Baszucki said.
The company aims to connect more than 1 billion people in the metaverse, according to Chief Product Officer Manuel Bronstein. The metaverse will also house experiences from ad agencies, according to Chief Business Officer Craig Donato.
The video game software company recently acquired Weta Digital, which it said will help with entry into the metaverse space, especially with a creator-focused approach. In an effort to populate the metaverse, the company has started building thousands of digital assets, such as virtual collectibles.
"That's going to really help us extract and help build the metaverse around the notion the world's a better place with more creators in it," CEO John Riccitiello said on an earnings call in November. "This really puts under our platform something that is, at least from an artist perspective, truly magic and they're the largest tappable audience we have in our universe."
The cloud communications provider said it's focusing on cloud-based technology to increase user engagement in preparation for something bigger, hinting at use in a metaverse context.
Vonage Holdings CEO Rory Read said on an earnings call in November that the company expects to see a more fleshed out version of the metaverse in the next five to ten years.
"We believe this is only going to accelerate as this 360-degree kind of engagement in the metaverse expands and explodes," Read said.
The Walt Disney Company
CEO Bob Chapek said he is confident in Disney's ability to capitalize on the metaverse with its broad properties, citing the company's history with adopting technologies, like synchronized audio and computer animation.
"Suffice it to say, our efforts to date are merely a prologue to a time when we'll be able to connect the physical and digital worlds even more closely, allowing for storytelling without boundaries in our own Disney metaverse," Chapek said in a November call, suggesting the company creates its own metaverse.
Warner Music Group
Warner Music Group discussed the potential for content creation and distribution for their music on large-scale metaverse platforms, like Roblox and Fortnite, in its earnings call in November.
"When you begin to look at the global reach, the number of people that spend meaningful amounts of time in these new worlds, I think it provides a universe of opportunity," CEO Stephen Cooper said.