Microsoft’s recent announcement that it would buy the game studio Mojang and its popular title Minecraft for $2.5 billion has been met with resistance by some in the technology industry who fear Microsoft will monopolize new technologies like virtual reality, voice recognition software, and artificial intelligence.
“The Metaverse is a virtual reality world that will be created by the internet.” Microsoft’s recent defections are a sign of the competition for talent. Read more in detail here: what is metaverse.
As the battle for workers with skills to build the metaverse heats up, Microsoft Corp.’s MSFT 0.05 percent augmented-reality team has lost around 100 people in the last year, many of them to Meta Platforms Inc., FB -0.20 percent, according to former employees of the software company and online job profiles.
Former Microsoft workers claim that competitors have been picking up personnel with expertise building Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented-reality devices, sometimes offering to treble their salary. According to them, the Microsoft augmented-reality division employs roughly 1,500 workers.
More than 70 former HoloLens team members have departed Microsoft in the last year, according to LinkedIn profiles. According to LinkedIn profiles, more than 40 people joined Meta, previously known as Facebook, which is making a significant push towards alternate-reality technology.
Among the departing employees are several of the team’s long-serving leaders. Over the summer, Charlie Han, who was in charge of collecting consumer feedback for HoloLens, departed to join Meta. Josh Miller, who formerly worked on the display team, was recently promoted to display director at Meta. Requests for comment from Mr. Han and Mr. Miller were not returned.
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Microsoft, according to a spokeswoman, has been at the forefront of metaverse technology innovation for years and “will continue to advance state-of-the-art hardware that is more immersive, inexpensive, and available in numerous form factors.”
Microsoft refused to comment on the HoloLens team, but said that staff turnover is a common problem for many companies, and that it does all it can to retain people and recruit new ones as required.
Meta has been tight-lipped about its hiring processes.
It’s nothing unusual for top tech corporations to steal from one other and from smaller businesses. As a large firm like Meta strives to develop fast, what stands out today is the magnitude and pace, according to Matt Stern, chief operating officer of Mira Labs Inc., a startup that helps companies adopt augmented reality for their workplaces.
“It’s pushed up market pricing,” he remarked. “Competition is challenging for tiny businesses.”
When Facebook changed its name, it said that it would refocus the corporation on the metaverse.
Photo courtesy of The Wall Street Journal’s Constanza Hevia H.
Facebook changed its name to Meta in October and said that it will reorient the firm around the metaverse. It predicted that expenditure on the new unit for the initiative will eat into its overall operating profit in 2021 by roughly $10 billion. Over the next five years, the business wants to recruit 10,000 people in Europe to help build out its metaverse products, according to the company.
Microsoft isn’t the only corporation dealing with Meta’s burgeoning talent pool. According to former Microsoft workers who have transferred to Meta and LinkedIn profiles of former Apple employees, Apple Inc. AAPL 0.10 percent is also losing personnel to Meta. Apple’s measures to curb departures were previously revealed by Bloomberg. Apple has been silent about the matter.
The metaverse is a mostly imagined virtual universe in which proponents believe people will work, study, and shop. Microsoft, Meta, and Apple are investing billions of dollars in the development of augmented- and virtual-reality technology and software that might constitute the foundation of this new digital universe.
Users are entirely immersed in a virtual environment—for example, a videogame—while wearing a headset that blocks out the outside world. According to research company International Data Corp, Meta’s Oculus will have a 75 percent share of the headset market in 2021. According to IDC, 9.4 million VR headsets were shipped last year, with that figure expected to climb to 13.6 million by the end of this year.
Digital material, such as 3-D graphics or visual instructions, is superimposed over a user’s perspective of the actual world in augmented reality. Some in the IT sector believe it will someday be a larger market than VR, but it will be more difficult to build. Last year, only around 325,000 augmented reality headsets were sold. According to IDC, that figure might rise to 1.35 million devices this year.
Engineers with expertise in AR and VR are seeing their profiles and pay surge as most tech giants aim to produce their own smart glasses, which are regular-size spectacles with some AR features. The phrase “metaverse” has become more popular in job descriptions. According to Indeed, the percentage of job advertisements that cited the metaverse in December was more than ten times more than a year ago.
“‘Until someone else releases an AR product, Microsoft still has a significant lead in the AR sector.’
— IDC research manager Jitesh Ubrani
Microsoft was a pioneer in the field of augmented reality. HoloLens was initially launched over five years ago and has since grown into one of the most sophisticated headsets on the market. While it has mostly concentrated on corporate apps, it is also working on a lighter, more inexpensive version for consumers, though it will be years before it is available, according to former Microsoft workers.
According to former Microsoft workers, Meta is also working on augmented reality glasses, which has prompted its recruiting spree. It made an early foray into the market in September with a pair of smart glasses developed in collaboration with EssilorLuxottica SA, the creator of Ray-Ban sunglasses. For the time being, they just have basic features like capturing images and recording short movies.
According to observers, Microsoft personnel are especially appealing candidates for headhunting since the company has been ahead of the competition in the field of augmented reality.
“Microsoft still maintains a significant lead in the AR industry until someone else delivers another AR product,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager at IDC.
The first-generation HoloLens was introduced by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in 2015. Rather than marketing its headgear as a game and entertainment platform for consumers, Microsoft has concentrated on selling it as a corporate productivity tool.
Microsoft has spent billions of dollars developing the technology, but the $3,500 HoloLens headgear have sold poorly in comparison to other consumer devices.
According to IDC, Microsoft has delivered between 200,000 and 250,000 HoloLens systems since its introduction. According to sources familiar with Microsoft’s thinking, several top executives contemplated cutting funds for the HoloLens development before the team received a major military contract.
Microsoft was awarded a contract by the United States Army in March to research methods to utilize augmented reality glasses to assist troops see through smoke and traverse battlefields. According to Microsoft, the deal may be worth more than $20 billion over the next ten years.
According to former workers, the corporation hasn’t recruited enough engineers to manage the added work since then. This caused several employees to doubt Microsoft’s commitment to developing the technology, leading some to accept offers from rivals, according to them.
Unexpected technological issues arose in the army project. According to the former staffers, integrating high-quality night-vision capabilities into the HoloLens proved problematic. They believe that the departures will make it more difficult to resolve these issues in the future.
Microsoft said that it has a strong team working on the project and that it is making progress.
The Metaverse’s Construction
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Aaron Tilley can be reached at [email protected]
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The “Facebook is not a monopoly” is a statement that has been made by Mark Zuckerberg in the past. Microsoft has also been struggling with talent to build the metaverse. Reference: facebook is not a monopoly.
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