Is Meta Platforms’ $70 billion bet on the metaverse shaping up as the biggest money pit ever in tech?
Perhaps. There are few precedents—if any—for a company spending as heavily as Facebook’s owner is to develop a new tech platform, an immersive world Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg envisages as “the next chapter” of the internet. And by Zuckerberg’s own telling, it could be another eight years or more—the “end of the decade”—before Meta starts to see a payoff. That begs the question of whether Meta will ever get enough of a return to justify the investment.
We decided to take a stab at comparing what Meta is spending on its big new bet to what other companies have invested on new platforms. It’s striking that in the past, companies like Apple and Google developed groundbreaking new technologies—such as the iPhone and Android mobile software—while spending a fraction of what Meta is investing. And for both Apple and Google, those investments were spectacular successes. Both companies continued to invest in their new technologies, but much of that investment came after launch, when the payoff was clearer.