These are the tech giants (besides Facebook) tinkering in the Metaverse

Mark Zuckerberg plans to turn Facebook from social network into a metaverse firm in just five years. But he's not the only one betting on this new universe.
3 January 2022

Besides Facebook, these are the tech giants that are in the Metaverse space. Source: AFP

  • Besides Facebook, there are literally dozens of companies within in and out of the US, working on creating either a single metaverse or different elements of the metaverse
  • Not to mention China’s biggest companies like Alibaba, Tencent, and Bytedance have been investing in spades to tap the potential of this emerging tech

The ‘Metaverse’, as Bloomberg Intelligence puts it, is a digital environment with such excellent economic prospects that it is expected to be valued at approximately US$800 billion by the middle of this decade. By 2030 that figure is expected to multiply to US$2.5 trillion. While the term was first coined in 1992, it wasn’t until this year that it grew in popularity when social media behemoth Facebook decided to plant its flag in the space.

It wasn’t too long after Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook announced interest in the virtual space, that he changed the name of his social network’s parent firm. The rebrand follows several months of intensifying discourse by Zuckerberg and the company on the metaverse – the idea of integrating real and digital worlds ever more seamlessly, using technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

In short, the change from Facebook to Meta basically made the company the standard-bearer of the metaverse universe. Following that, many companies kickstarted a series of initiatives to promote their own Metaverse plays. Let’s take a look at all the Big Tech and their ventures today into this hotly contested space.

Mesh for Microsoft Teams

Just last month, Microsoft unveiled its plans to enter the metaverse with Mesh for Microsoft Teams, which will roll out next year.  The technology giant itself defines it as an opportunity that “enables presence and shared experiences from anywhere, on any device, through mixed reality applications.”

To put it simply, Mesh is a platform for virtual meetings that can take place across HoloLens 2, other mixed reality headsets, computers, and smartphones. Microsoft also mentioned avatars, even of “holoportation” within the work environment as a way to improve the fluidity of decision-making and the acceleration of problem-solving.

Alibaba’s & Tencent numerous Metaverse ventures

Amidst all the hype surrounding Facebook and its Metaverse plans, technology companies in China ramped up their effort just as well — if not better. E-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding by September has filed to register several trademarks related to “metaverse”, joining fellow Chinese tech firms such as Tencent Holdings in exploring opportunities in a virtual world.

According to business registration tracking platform Qichacha, Alibaba had trademarked the Chinese terms for “Ali Metaverse”, “Taobao Metaverse” and “DingDing Metaverse”, among others. Meanwhile, Tencent, owner of multipurpose super app WeChat and operator of the world’s largest video gaming business filed to register nearly 100 metaverse-related trademarks.

It includes “QQ Metaverse”, “QQ Music Metaverse” and “Kings Metaverse” – corresponding to the names of the company’s messaging app, music-streaming platform, and marquee mobile game Honour Of Kings.

Before Facebook, Epic Games understood the Metaverse hype

If there is one company that saw the potential in the Metaverse space long before Facebook did, it is Epic Games. Its founder Tim Sweeney has been incredibly vocal about wanting to build a version of the metaverse for years. The company has already laid a lot of groundwork in its gaming platform, Fortnite.

Given how Sweeney has been setting his eyes on a metaverse for years, Epic Games as a whole has been acquiring a number of assets and making strategic moves with the goal of making Sweeney’s vision a reality sooner rather than later. In fact earlier this year, Sony and other tech companies contributed a collective US$1 billion to Epic Games, to effectively build the next evolution of the internet.