Billions of dollars and just three years later, the Internet’s Next Big Thing joins the tech graveyard

For about 12 months there, it was impossible for work trend newsletter writers to avoid the Metaverse. It was everywhere. Meetings in the Metaverse. Real estate in the Metaverse. Comedy clubs in the Metaverse. Snoop Dog in the Metaverse.

And then, just as fast as tech capital had chased the concept Metaverse into relevance, it was gone ― killed by the newer, trendier thing: ChatGPT.

“The Metaverse, the once-buzzy technology that promised to allow users to hang out awkwardly in a disorientating video-game-like world, has died after being abandoned by the business world. It was three years old,” declared PR firm owner Ed Zitron in Business Insider recently. Facebook has reportedly stopped pitching people on the Metaverse concept entirely, having lost somewhere in the ballpark of $13 billion on the project last year.

“​​Zuckerberg misled everyone, burned tens of billions of dollars, convinced an industry of followers to submit to his quixotic obsession, and then killed it the second that another idea started to interest Wall Street,” Zitron wrote.

Some are dancing on the grave of Zuck’s awkward avatar. “I’ll take all the bad things the rise of generative AI can throw at me so long as I can pull something positive out of it. And in this case it’s the potential end of having to never refer to Zuckerberg’s goddam metaverse ever again,” wrote PC World’s Dave James. “Praise be to our new AI overlords. Take my job, I don’t care anymore.”

If it reveals anything, it’s that the tech and work productivity worlds are getting desperate for a true technological breakthrough. Crypto, NFTs, the Metaverse and even AI tools have all been heralded at one point or another as the technology to carry the workforce across the threshold to new, previously untold triumphs in productivity and profitability ― promises that have largely failed to materialize.

The lesson, should anyone be interested in learning one, might well be that no one thing will upend the work world, no matter how many times it promises to do so ― that there are no silver bullets to kickstart a new economic paradigm.

Content written by Kieran Delamont for Worklife, a partnership between Ahria Consulting and London Inc. To view this content in newsletter form, click here.