Meta’s Actuality Labs misplaced $13.7 billion on VR and AR final yr • TechCrunch

Mentions of the “metaverse” have been comparatively few and much between in Meta’s quarterly earnings name this week — we counted a mere seven mentions in comparison with 23 for “AI” — however the firm’s funding into its imaginative and prescient of a VR-connected social future stays colossal.

Beginning in 2021, Meta started breaking out its Actuality Labs VR and AR division into its personal section for monetary reporting functions. That makes it attainable to see simply how a lot Meta is pouring into these areas, and the numbers are staggering.

Meta reported $13.7 billion in working losses for Actuality Labs for 2022, greater than the already jaw-dropping $10.2 billion it sunk into the division in 2021. Actuality Labs introduced in $2.16 billion final yr in income, a drop from $2.27 billion in 2021.

For scope, do not forget that Meta purchased Oculus — the pioneering VR {hardware} firm that fashioned a groundwork for its efforts — for $2 billion again in 2014. The corporate’s funding within the space has solely escalated, with the corporate choosing up a variety of main software program firms together with Beat Saber’s creator and now Inside, developer of the digital exercise app Supernatural.

Meta hasn’t disclosed its headcount numbers for Actuality Labs, however the firm reportedly had 17,000 employees in the division previous to layoffs late final yr. Staffing and {hardware} growth account for the lion’s share of the money it’s spent within the space.

Meta CFO Susan Li stated that the corporate expects its annual losses for Actuality Labs to be even larger in 2023. “…We’re going to proceed to speculate meaningfully on this space given the numerous long-term alternatives that we see,” Li stated, calling its AR, VR and metaverse software program efforts “a long-duration funding.”

Meta plans to launch a next-generation shopper headset later in 2023, like a revamped model of its Quest {hardware} that includes combined actuality. Apple, one of many solely consumer-focused firms poised to compete with Meta within the sector, is broadly anticipated to launch a brand new AR/VR headset quickly.

On this week’s earnings name, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg emphasised the truth that Actuality Labs encompasses AR, VR and metaverse-related software program (Horizon Worlds, and so on.) on the firm. “I believe the software program and social platform may be probably the most crucial a part of what we’re doing, however software program is only a lot much less capital intensive to construct than the {hardware},” Zuckerberg stated.

Meta might publicly de-emphasize its metaverse efforts to please skeptical buyers, however the firm seems able to the keep the course on VR and AR.

“… Not one of the alerts that I’ve seen to this point means that we should always shift the Actuality Labs technique long run,” Zuckerberg stated. “We’re always adjusting the specifics of how we execute this, so I believe that we’ll actually have a look at that as a part of the continuing effectivity work.”