Metaverse ‘is going to happen,’ but Meta’s attempts ‘will misfire’: Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin

Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, said the existing corporate attempts to deliberately create a metaverse were leading nowhere. In particular, he said efforts being made by Meta to this end would “misfire.”

Buterin was sharing his views on how the metaverse might look like in his Twitter on July 31. He said corporate projects underway did not look promising, and singled out Meta, formerly known as Facebook, for criticism.

“We don’t really know the definition of ‘the metaverse’ yet, it’s far too early to know what people actually want,” Buterin said in his tweet. “So anything Facebook creates now will misfire.”

While acknowledging that the metaverse would happen as a somewhat inevitable step in today’s technological progress, Buterin said it seemed unlikely that existing projects would successfully build one. 

“The ‘metaverse’ is going to happen,” Buterin continued. “But I don’t think any of the existing corporate attempts to intentionally create the metaverse are going anywhere.”

How the metaverse should be formed has been a subject of tension and debate. Critics unhappy about large and centralised corporations dominating the internet believe that the blockchain technology will make decentralised governance models possible in Web3.

Recently, large tech companies including Microsoft, Meta and Sony have announced their plan to form a forum to set standards for the metaverse, further fueling such concern. 

Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has long stated that he “believes the Metaverse is the next chapter of the internet” and that “Meta is currently seen as a social media company, but in our DNA, we are a company that builds technology to connect people. The Metaverse is the next frontier.”

At the end of July, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against Meta’s acquisition of the US-based Within, a VR app developer. This came amid a growing sentiment of caution about Meta’s monopoly in the metaverse market. 

Meta posted a 1 per cent year-on-year decline in revenue to US$28.822 billion for April to June this year, the first decline in revenue since the company went public in 2012. Its net profit for the period also fell 36 per cent year-on-year to US$6.687 billion. 

Zuckerberg commented at the time that he had been “too optimistic” and admitted that he was concerned about the company’s plans.