What metaverse? Meta says its single largest investment is now in ‘advancing AI’

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Roughly a year-and-a-half after Facebook renamed itself “Meta” and said it would go all-in on building a future version of the internet dubbed the metaverse, the tech giant now says its top investment priority will be advancing artificial intelligence.

In a letter to staff Tuesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced plans to lay off another 10,000 employees in the coming months, and doubled down on his new focus of “efficiency” for the company. The pivot to efficiency, first announced last month in Meta’s quarterly earnings call, comes after years of investing heavily in growth, including in areas with unproven potential like virtual reality.

Now, Zuckerberg says the company will focus mostly on cutting costs and streamlining projects. Building the metaverse “remains central to defining the future of social connection,” Zuckerberg wrote, but that isn’t where Meta will be putting most of its capital.

“Our single largest investment is in advancing AI and building it into every one of our products,” Zuckerberg said Tuesday. He nodded to how AI tools can help users of its apps express themselves and “discover new content,” but also said that new AI tools can be used to increase efficiencies internally by helping “engineers write better code faster.”

The comments come after what the CEO described as a “humbling wake-up call” last year, as the “world economy changed, competitive pressures grew, and our growth slowed considerably.”