‘Meta didn’t crack the entire metaverse; Want to help others build compelling use cases »

Meta, which renewed its identity from Facebook last October, will continue to build access to the project metaverse through devices enabling a more immersive version of the internetAjit Mohan, Vice President and Managing Director, India, Meta said: The Indian Express in an interview. He also spoke about the future of internet advertising in the Metaverse and the company’s plans for the upcoming Indian Premier League broadcasting rights auction. Edited excerpts:

How do the cost-benefit ratios work out, given that political ads represent a small fraction of your revenue and the heat they bring from claims of platform bias?

I don’t really have an opinion on that. This is generally one of the calls we made some time ago. In the context of the role we can play – just as businesses connect with consumers, we’ve found that our platforms are being used to advance causes. We saw that one of the roles we played in the pandemic was to draw attention to the public health agenda. The code of the platform is that you can build communities and get a message across, so I can imagine the utility from a campaign perspective as well. If you look at political advertising as a percentage of total (revenue), both in India and globally, it becomes quite clear that the driving force for us is not the revenue.

Companies around the world have ramped up their investments in the metaverse. How will the future of internet advertising change in Web 3.0 and the metaverse?

In a very short time, from the moment we articulated the metaverse idea and the change of identity to Meta, there was tremendous excitement from business and industrial leaders across the spectrum, and I have seen this enthusiasm in India as well. Leaders instinctively gain the power of a more immersive internet and what it means to go from 2D to 3D (two-dimensional to three-dimensional), not only from a consumer perspective – with use cases such as fitness and games – but also from a business perspective, if they can interact with those users in a more immersive way. We’ve been pretty open in saying that we don’t know all the answers right now. Since the acquisition of Oculus in 2014, the company has been investing in AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) for some time. We have no illusions that we are building the metavers. We know that we will contribute to what will become the metaverse and that different companies will create different spaces. It has to be interoperable, much more than mobile internet used to be. At the same time, we have no illusions that we’re getting it right, whether it’s technology or how interoperability will work, or even what the different revenue streams will be. What we do know is that there will be a lot of work on the access side on devices that enable a more immersive version of the web.

Governments and regulators around the world are debating policy formulation for non-perishable cryptocurrencies and tokens, and the metaverse? How important is it that these policies are defined as early as possible?

In the latest version of the Internet, many of these laws and policies had to be created after the fact. We’ve seen this explosive growth and innovation that has had a huge impact on the global economy and on people’s ability to connect seamlessly. But we also found that there were a lot of bad actors who could do a lot of harm. Even in some of our own work – we’ve gone through a lot of fundamental product work and policy changes over the past few years because we’ve recognized that. We have the opportunity to learn from this as we think about designing the various building blocks that will make up the Metaverse over the next 5-10 years. For example, we’ve built privacy as a core design principle into every feature of the product and that will translate quite well. We need to proactively work with stakeholders, including regulators around the world, to ensure that we build these frameworks in a way that enables innovation but absorbs the lessons of the past 20 years.

Is Facebook involved in these discussions regarding policy making in India on these aspects?

Given the nature of the business, so are we. If you look at how deep we look into building Web 3.0 and the Metaverse, a fundamentally different technology, we’re naturally going to be talking to anyone who wants to hear our perspective. We found that stakeholders, including governments, are open to closed-loop discussions, where they are open to objective discussions of different points of view. This will continue to be the case in Web 3.0 as well.

Would Meta, as a major media company, be interested in buying the broadcasting rights for IPL?

First, I don’t think we’re a media company. I think we’re working with other media companies, and I hope they’ve seen the value of leveraging our platforms. We do not consider ourselves a media company. I don’t think we’re going to build specific use cases. We think more in the sense that we can create frameworks and help with fundamental tools on both the software and hardware sides that allow other developers to build compelling use cases for the metaverse. Meta’s role is essentially around building toolkits, enabling other partners and developers, and so in this context, we don’t plan to bid for the IPL rights that will open in the coming weeks. It’s the context of the role we see ourselves in, of building the metaverse, and not because we think the IPL isn’t a fantasy property. I saw the power of IPL in building Hotstar.

As for Apple’s privacy changes, there is a $10 billion impact globally that Meta said is seeing as a result of the new policy. Can you provide qualitative or quantitative information for India on the impact observed by Meta?

There are no numbers to share. What we’ve publicly announced over the past few weeks and what’s to come, we’ve clearly been working to make sure some of the web conversion understatements that resulted from Apple’s changes have been resolved. It will continue. The only other thing to point out is that Apple or iOS is only a very small part of the total number of devices in India.

When it comes to the metaverse, are there any products that you think will change the shape of Web 3.0? Have you invested in any of them?

It’s really an open canvas. I think the timing of this is very important. When the latest version of the internet came out, we as a country were in a very different stage. Few people were logged in and the developer ecosystem was very early. This confidence that has now been imposed by the enormous entrepreneurial energy that has been unleashed in recent years, aided by international capital.

As a country, we now have the opportunity to shape the global metaverse. I don’t think it’s about picking just a few categories now. As a country, chances are we couldn’t be better placed to create value for ourselves and for the world.

Some companies have started to create use cases. Are they pioneers in this uncharted territory of the metavers or do they jump before looking?

I have no insight into a particular company or use case. We try to articulate our vision of what we are trying to build, the activating program on the hardware or software side, and emphasize whether we should build it patiently and deliberately in the long run.

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