Elon Musk celebrates the metaverse's decline as corporate hype and virtual-land prices deflate

Elon Musk
Elon Musk.Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
  • Elon Musk tweeted that "nature is healing" on reports that Disney has cut its metaverse division.

  • Meta Platforms and Microsoft have also signaled less bullishness on the metaverse recently.

  • Meanwhile, prices for virtual land are down nearly 90% from a year ago.

Elon Musk seems at peace with cuts to Disney's metaverse division.

On Tuesday, he tweeted that "nature is healing," in response to a Wall Street Journal article that first reported on the closure of the company's next-generation storytelling and consumer-experiences unit.

Musk has previously dismissed the metaverse, characterizing it as more of a "marketing buzzword," rather than realistic concept. While others saw it as a major disruptor in the future, he mostly poked fun at the idea of wearing headsets to interact throughout the day.

"Sure, you can put a TV on your nose," he quipped in a 2021 interview.

The Tesla CEO's latest tweet comes amid flagging enthusiasm, as slow user growth and slumping in-world real estate have led to disappointing revenue for the companies investing in the technology.

Alongside Disney, Microsoft also closed its own metaverse project last month, while Meta Platforms de-emphasized its focus on becoming the leading virtual reality creator.

Despite Facebook changing its name to Meta in 2021 to show its seriousness about making metaverse technology its core concern, consumer enthusiasm has receded as a result of glitchy software, boring worlds and expensive headsets that are necessary to take part in the experience.

The company's metaverse platform, Horizon Worlds, has had trouble retaining users for more than a month.

Hype around the metaverse exploded in late 2021. Then last year's bear market that hit stocks and risk assets more broadly also dragged down cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens and other digital assets like virtual real estate in the metaverse.

In fact, prices for virtual land on metaverse platform Decentraland have plunged nearly 90%, according to WeMeta data cited by the WSJ. However, the firm has also said that all of its new land has sold out over the past six months.

To be sure, metaverse initiatives aren't the only things that companies are cutting. Tech firms in particular have been slashing headcounts across the board lately.

For its part, Disney's cuts to the roughly 50-member metaverse unit are part of a greater restructuring that is estimated to dismiss 7,000 employees within the coming two months and save $5.5 billion.

The team was responsible for constructing interactive stories through new virtual formats, as well as potentially applying the technology to Disney's theme-parks and other consumer experiences.

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