The Blog

If You Blink You Might Miss the Tech Titans

Not the first time in earnings history – un-ironic melding of fiction and Wall Street analyst narrative building. 

Now Facebook did have the fastest quarterly revenue growth year over year in five years. Those are good numbers, they’re actually relative to the other tech Titans not a blowout, only surpassing analyst expectations by 5% vs. Google at 10% and Apple at 11%

Who is to blame for this? Apple, of course. Asking us to opt out of Facebook trackers. Did you opt out? Enough to cause facebook to issue a warning of Tailwinds to growth on the call. 

What does this mean? Has Facebook, the growth company reached the limits of growth. 

No worries, says founding CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in the coming years, you won’t think of Facebook as a social media company, you’ll see them as a metaverse company. 

And this is where I get terrified. What is the metaverse? 

Well there is the current shared vision of Epic Games and Roblox and crypt bros and a VC named Matthew Ball in which we and our friends and our digital cosmetics and special outfits and dance moves go from place to place and have different experiences all while remaining connected to each other socially in the real world. Everything is interoperable. There is so much infrastructure to build. So much of our daily lives that will then be ripe for monetization. 

But we have to go back to the origins, to Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson’s 1992 ! dystopian sci fi novel where he describes a digital three dimensional world that people escape to because life on earth pretty much sucks. Based in LA, the city is no longer part of the US since the feds ceded power to private companies & entrepreneurs. People live in dark cold temp storage containers or gated communities, run by entrepreneurs.  Private vehicles reign as mercenary armies compete for national defense contracts. Freelancers compete for intelligence contracts in a decentralized CIA.

At least those living in storage containers get respect and good real estate in the 3d digital world, the metaverse.

Facebook, along with a few crypto bros and game builders are now all talking about building a metaverse and it’s all discussed without any sense of irony, on the actual earnings call a Wall Street analyst who I hope has not read Snow Crash asks, “How much will the metaverse cost to build?” and Mark  answers, “Billions, it will be billions to build.”

Snowcrash, let it be known, is the novel that inspired young Reid Hoffman before he built LinkedIn, and lit up the imaginations of retired Tech Titans Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google. 

If you want to see why the bright future of technology turned dark, oligopolistic, and anti-democratic, then check out Snowcrash. Fun fact: Stephenson works for Bezos’s space company now. A big circle of narrative and self-fulfilling prophesies.