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Meta Slashes Custom Chipmaker Workforce Amid Renewed AR/VR Metaverse Push

2 mins
Updated by Kyle Baird
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In Brief

  • Meta's Reality Labs division, responsible for custom silicon chips for AR/VR products, faces workforce cuts, potentially impacting the metaverse project.
  • Meta continues to innovate, developing products such as smart glasses and AR glasses, with a first version expected next year.
  • Despite challenges, Meta is making strides in the metaverse, developing AI assistants for WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook, and advancing avatar technology.
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Meta Platforms, the tech giant leading the charge toward the metaverse, is reportedly preparing for a significant workforce reduction within its Reality Labs division.

This unit, known as the Facebook Agile Silicon Team (FAST), is responsible for creating custom silicon chips for Meta’s augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) products.

Meta Makes Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

According to insider sources, the layoffs were announced via a post on Meta’s internal discussion forum, Workplace. The extent of the cuts remains uncertain, but their impact could be significant, potentially hindering CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitious metaverse project.

With roughly 600 employees, the FAST unit has been instrumental in developing custom chips that differentiate Meta’s devices from competitors in the AR/VR market.

The cuts could particularly affect the development of AR glasses, a product Zuckerberg believes,

“Will redefine our relationship with technology.”

However, despite these challenges, Meta continues to innovate. The most recent news is that the company is developing products such as smart glasses and AR glasses. A first version is expected to be completed next year.

Read more: 10 Metaverse Platforms To Watch Out for in 2023

Meta’s struggles with chip production have been ongoing. The company has turned to external providers like Qualcomm for its current market devices.

This workforce reduction follows a series of layoffs. Around 21,000 jobs have been slashed since November last year as Meta attempts to control costs amid slowing revenue growth and high inflation.

Meta on the list of major tech layoffs in the past 3 years. Source: Statista
Meta on the list of major tech layoffs in the past 3 years. Source: Statista

Metaverse Push Renewed

Despite these setbacks, Meta continues to make strides in the metaverse. For instance, CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently showcased advancements in photorealistic avatar development using Meta’s Quest 3 headset.

This technology tracks facial expressions and encodes real-time facial data, resulting in highly realistic avatars.

While the technology is not yet consumer-ready, it has already received praise. Podcaster Lex Fridman lauded the experience as “the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen.” Coder Jelle Prins added,

“Nine minutes into the Lex/Mark metaverse podcast, I completely forgot I was observing avatars.”

Despite the impending layoffs, Meta remains committed to its metaverse vision. Its ongoing development of AI assistants for WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook, coupled with advancements in avatar technology, indicate that the company is poised to continue making strides in the metaverse, even as it navigates workforce restructuring and market challenges.

Top crypto platforms in the US | February 2024
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