Facebook plans to hire 10,000 people within five years in the European Union (EU) to work on the metaverse, the digital parallel world which is the Holy Grail of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and boss of the American social media giant .
“This investment is a vote of confidence in the strength of Europe’s tech industry and the potential of Europe’s tech talent,” announced, Monday, October 18, in a blog article the Briton Nick Clegg and the Spaniard Javier Olivan, two of the most senior managers of the group which today has more than 63,000 employees.
No precise details are given on the countries where the future jobs will be located, nor on the professions concerned. “The need for highly skilled engineers is one of Facebook’s most pressing priorities”they just point out.
The metaverse, contraction of “meta” and “universe” (metaverse in English), is a sort of digital understudy of the physical world, accessible via Internet. Thanks in particular to virtual and augmented reality, it should make it possible to multiply human interactions, by freeing them from physical constraints, through the Internet. It could, for example, offer the possibility of dancing in a nightclub with people located thousands of miles away, but also of buying or selling digital goods or services, many of which have yet to be invented.
“The feeling of really being there”
“The essential quality of the metaverse will be the presence – the feeling of really being there with people”, explained Mark Zuckerberg, in July, on his Facebook profile. It’s not just about creating “a great new experience”but also “an economic wave that could generate opportunity for people around the world”he also explained in a video interview at the Vivatech show in June.
Facebook’s announcement comes in a tense context for the Californian company, which needs to restore its image as it is regularly accused of ignoring the negative social impacts of its activities.
The latest salvo came in early October from whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, who accuses the American group of pushing teenagers to use its platforms ever more, at the risk of causing addiction.
In their message, Nick Clegg and Javier Olivan pay tribute to the role played by Europe in regulating against the excesses of the Internet. “European policymakers are leading the way in helping to embed European values such as freedom of expression, privacy, transparency and individual rights into the daily functioning of the internet. »
No company will own the metaverse
They repeat, moreover, that Facebook does not seek, with the metaverse, to build a new closed universe, like its social network. “No company will own or operate the metaverse”they say.
“Like the Internet, its main characteristic will be its openness and interoperability. Bringing it to life will require collaboration and cooperation between businesses, developers, creators and policy makers. »
Facebook is already one of the world leaders in virtual reality with its Oculus headset, from the company of the same name bought in 2014 for two billion dollars (1.7 billion euros). In September, Mark Zuckerberg’s company announced that it had appointed Andrew Bosworth, head of Facebook Reality Labs and, as such, one of its metaverse specialists, as group chief technology officer.
The American giant is not the only one betting on this virtual world. Epic Games, the company behind the game fortnite, announced that part of the billion dollars raised this year from institutional investors, including Sony, would be devoted to the “metaverse”. On Decentraland, an online platform considered one of the precursors of the metaverse, it is now possible to get a job as a croupier in a virtual casino.