Phil Lieben, former CEO of Evernote, says Metaverse doesn’t work

Meta CEO and Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook

Phil Lieben, former president of Evernote and current CEO of US video conferencing company Mmhmm, doesn’t think much of Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse.

He told the insider he’s tried Horizon Workrooms, the Meta VR meeting software, and rolled it out “for just a few minutes.”

It is a “non-creative” and “outdated” idea that has no successful future.

When tech founder Phil Libin wore Oculus VR glasses to try out Meta’s first Metaverse product, he didn’t have high expectations. “I had a feeling it was going to be bad, but at the same time I was hoping for a pleasant surprise,” Libin said in an interview with Insider.

The CEO of “Mmhmm”, an American video and web conferencing company, recently tested the Meta product “Horizon Workrooms” with his employees. With Horizon Workrooms, people can use virtual reality headsets for virtual business meetings in what’s called the metaverse. In this virtual room, all team members are sitting at a table – regardless of whether they are in the next room or on the other side of the world. At least that’s the idea behind it.

No more cups of coffee on video calls

But Lieben said his gut feeling was correct. “I only took it for a few minutes,” he said.

He believes that using virtual reality for meetings is less attractive than well-known technologies like Zoom, where people can still do real things, like have a cup of coffee. “I can’t do that with a huge piece of plastic on my face without pouring hot coffee over me,” Libin said.

Horizon Metaverse offices.

Horizon Metaverse offices.
Facebook

The word “metaverse” originated from the realm of science fiction and refers to a futuristic version of the internet that can be accessed via immersive technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality headsets. It was notably pushed back by Mark Zuckerberg, who renamed Facebook to Meta in October.

But in the last quarter of 2021, Meta had to deal with a bitter defeat, the company announced on February 2 of this year. Meta is said to have lost about ten billion US dollars through its VR business. In addition, the number of daily active users on Facebook decreased slightly for the first time in its history. Meta stock has fallen about 26 percent at times in the trading period after the close on February 3. The company’s value fell by about $240 billion – the largest single-day loss in the company’s history.

This isn’t the first time Liben has criticized the Metaverse. In a podcast interview in January, he compared the media hype surrounding the virtual universe to the communist propaganda he had heard growing up in the former Soviet Union. Still not convinced. Seeing the Meta for the metaverse – “a connected 3D VR world in which we move many hours a day – to play and work” – would be a terrifying prospect, he said.

Phil Liebin scored in Silicon Valley in 2017.

Phil Liebin scored in Silicon Valley in 2017.
Image Alliance / dpa | Andrei Sokolov

“The idea is old,” Libin told Insider. “And uncreative. It has been tried over and over again over the past four decades, and it has never worked.” But he doesn’t think big technologies work that way. “I think great technology, although primitive at first, is also great out of the box,” he said. Over time, the unusual technology becomes “more sophisticated, more mature, more sophisticated.”

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As an example, he cited early video game consoles and his first purchase from Amazon in the mid-1990s. “It was my first e-commerce transaction. I went to Amazon which was still very simple. A text site where you can only buy books. Everything was so simple. But I bought two books, and I remember thinking at the time, ‘That’s cool’ .”

As for Horizon Workrooms, Lieben said, “It can’t get better because it started badly. It can get more difficult, but it’s still bad even then.”

Lara Hansen translated this text from English. You can find the original here.

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