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Meta — the company formally known as Facebook — has bet big on VR spaces being the next big thing. Unfortunately, it’s having a hard time convincing its own employees to be equally enthused, with few spending much time in Horizon Worlds, according to leaked internal memos seen by The Verge (opens in new tab).
“For many of us, we don’t spend that much time in Horizon and our dogfooding dashboards show this pretty clearly,” wrote Meta’s VP of Metaverse, Vishal Shah, in a memo to the team on September 15. “Dogfooding” means using your own products or services to ensure quality.
“Why don’t we love the product we’ve built so much that we use it all the time?” Shah continued. “The simple truth is, if we don’t love it, how can we expect our users to love it?”
Answering his own question in another memo from September, Shah wrote that “the aggregate weight of papercuts, stability issues, and bugs is making it too hard for our community to experience the magic of Horizon.”
The plea for people to spend more time in VR clearly fell on deaf ears, as another memo dated September 30 promises to “hold managers accountable” for making their teams use Horizon at least once a week.
“Everyone in this organization should make it their mission to fall in love with Horizon Worlds,” he wrote. “You can’t do that without using it. Get in there. Organize times to do it with your colleagues or friends, in both internal builds but also the public build so you can interact with our community.”
Highlighting ways that the experience currently falls short, Shah wrote that “our onboarding experience is confusing and frustrating for users,” and that employees should be keen to “introduce new users to top-notch worlds that will ensure their first visit is a success.”
On one hand, it’s not surprising that the person whose job it is to make the metaverse the future is evangelical in pushing for more people to use it internally and showing a little frustration that others aren’t as enthusiastic.
But it does speak to a wider problem with betting the house on the Metaverse as the next big moneyspinner after Facebook.
If the company really was on to the next big thing in computing, then it shouldn’t have to “hold managers accountable” for usage — it would be natural.
Before I went freelance, my former employers made the move to Slack. Nobody had to pressure me or others to stop sending emails — they just fizzled out as we naturally embraced the new software, which was easy, intuitive and actually quite fun. It doesn’t sound like the same is true for the metaverse at this point.
Will it ever be? I’m a touch skeptical. I bought a Meta Quest 2 and absolutely love it for how quick and easy it is to launch fun VR experiences. Despite that, it took me well over a year to get through the brilliant Half-Life: Alyx because of the hassle of making sure everything was charged, clearing a space and putting on the headset for an extended session.
And that was for something fun! For meetings… well, can’t we just book a room? I’d need a pretty compelling reason to don a VR headset for work and, bluntly, it doesn’t sound like the company has much other than vague promises that it might be the future if only employees would try a bit harder to love it.