Meta Invests in Metaverse Plans Amid Sweeping Layoffs

Meta, Audio Analytic, acquisitions, metaverse

In the middle of the first mass layoffs in its history, Meta is set to purchase Audio Analytic as part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse ambitions.

According to published reports Wednesday (Nov. 9), Meta will acquire the U.K.-based software company, which makes artificial intelligence-driven (AI) sound recognition software, for an undisclosed figure.

Founded in 2008, Audio Analytic offers AI that can recognize different sounds, such as breaking glass, smoke alarms and barking dogs. Following the purchase, Audio Analytic will become part of Meta’s audio research unit of its Reality Labs division, working on making realistic sounds and speech for a virtual world.

The news came the same day Meta said it would lay off 11,000 workers — 13% of the company’s workforce — with Zuckerberg acknowledging responsibility for the conditions — a misplaced bet on eCommerce investments —  leading to the move.

In a message to employees, Zuckerberg said he, like many people, had assumed that the spending patterns people developed during the pandemic would continue.

“Unfortunately, this did not play out the way I expected. Not only has online commerce returned to prior trends, but the macroeconomic downturn, increased competition, and ads signal loss have caused our revenue to be much lower than I’d expected. I got this wrong, and I take responsibility for that.”

Last week, PYMNTS reported that Meta’s shareholders were frustrated that Zuckerberg had done little to assuage their fears about the company’s money-losing metaverse efforts.

Zuckerberg doubled down on the project during the company’s earnings call in October, telling shareholders metaverse spending will not only continue but would also grow, even though Reality Labs was on track to lose $12 billion to $15 billion this year.

It caused the company’s stock to fall 24%, extending its year-long slump to more than 70% and leading to Zuckerberg being called “tone-deaf” by “disgusted” institutional investors.

“Despite having produced nothing more than some very pricy and feature-rich headsets and the Horizon Worlds virtual reality (VR) platform that included widely-derided low-quality graphics, Meta has little else to show for its investment and corporate re-branding from Facebook,” PYMNTS wrote last week.

For all PYMNTS EMEA and Cryptocurrency coverage, subscribe to the daily EMEA and Cryptocurrency Newsletters.