Facebook is taking its next steps towards becoming a ‘metaverse company’ with a new plan to hire 10,000 new staff to work on its metaverse project. Also important, these new staff will all be based in Europe.
As explained by Facebook:
“Today, we’re announcing a plan to create 10,000 new high-skilled jobs within the European Union (EU) over the next five years. This investment is a vote of confidence in the strength of the European tech industry and the potential of European tech talent.”
The new hiring push will see Facebook significantly expand its operations in the EU, as it works to build its metaverse elements. Which are not entirely clear as yet, but Facebook sees the evolving metaverse concept as a key opportunity for it to connect its social, AR and VR tools on another level, and move with the next key stage of digital connection.
The metaverse, in a basic sense, is a virtual world, or worlds, where users will be able to interact with each other using digital depictions of themselves, or character avatars. The idea is that the metaverse will replicate real life in many ways, within a fluid, interactive digital space, where people will be able to socialize, play games, shop, work, etc. Basically, any interaction that you can conduct in real life you’ll theoretically be able to conduct in the metaverse as well, with the additional capacity to use digital elements to expand your communication in the space.
Which many businesses have been building towards for years, but the evolution of VR, and the expanded WFH shift, sparked by the pandemic, have now made it a much more realistic concept, and something that more people can and will be looking to utilize in the near future.
How exactly the metaverse, in itself, takes shape is not clear, but as noted, given Facebook’s investment in several key elements of the concept, it’s no surprise to see The Social Network looking to become a foundational element of the broader metaverse infrastructure.
Though as Facebook notes:
“No one company will own and operate the metaverse. Like the internet, its key feature will be its openness and interoperability. Bringing this to life will take collaboration and cooperation across companies, developers, creators and policymakers.”
That feels a little like a ‘yeah, but’ type statement, like Facebook is saying that no one company can own the metaverse, but it kind of still thinks it probably can, at least to a significant degree.
The decision to base these new staff in Europe, specifically, is of particular note given the company’s various ongoing challenges in the region.
Facebook is constantly working with European regulators, on various fronts, to ensure that it meets the region’s evolving standards on data privacy, consumer protection, antitrust and more. Earlier this year, various European-based groups launched the first stages of legal action against Facebook for past data leaks, which they’re now able to initiate as part of Europe’s GDPR rules, while Facebook’s also facing several antitrust probes in the region, as well as investigations into how it uses data to target ads, and how it protects (or doesn’t) younger users.
Given the scope of regulatory and legal challenges that Facebook’s facing, it makes sense for the company to increase its contribution to the EU economy, as a means to gain more leverage, and potential leniency, in such considerations.
That, of course, is the skeptical view – for its part, Facebook says that:
“European companies are at the cutting edge of several fields, whether it’s the German biotech helping to develop the first-ever MRNA vaccine or the coalition of European neo-banks leading the future of finance. Spain is seeing record levels of investment into startups solving everything from online grocery delivery to neuroelectronics, while Sweden is on its way to becoming the world’s first cashless society by 2023.”
Theoretically, both can be true, but it is interesting to see Facebook announce this type of investment into a specific region for a specialized tech project.
Either way, Facebook’s metaverse plans are moving forward, and while we won’t know for some time what specific form this element will take, it should help to secure Facebook’s future in the next stage.