EDITORIAL: How Big Tech Layoffs, the Deepening Crypto Winter, and Global Chaos Will Impact the Metaverse

So (like many of you), have been following the news media these past seven days, and between the U.S. midterm elections, the jaw-dropping layoffs at both Meta and Twitter, and the collapse of major cryptocurrency exchange FTX, it’s been quite a week!

As I write this, I am listening to a Sept. 22nd, 2022 report written by Adam Fisher for clients of the investment firm Sequoia, titled Sam Bankman-Fried Has a Savior Complex—And Maybe You Should Too.

UPDATE 3:08 p.m.: Sequoia has just removed Adam’s report from its website but, as always, the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine has you covered! WARNING: I listened to all one-and-a-half hours of the audio version of this article, and I want that time back! The level of hubris and cringe in this article is off the charts!

Given what’s happened in the past 48 hours, this report has aged like milk—badly. I had bookmarked it yesterday, and when I went to revisit the page today, I noticed that it had been updated:

UPDATE: Nov 9, 2022: Since this article was published, a liquidity crunch has created solvency risk for FTX and its future is uncertain. Many have been affected by this unexpected turn of events. For Sequoia, our fiduciary responsibility is to our LPs. To that end, we shared this letter with them today regarding our investment in FTX. For FTX, we believe its fiduciary responsibility is first to its customers, and second to its shareholders. As such, FTX is exploring all opportunities to ensure its customers are able to recover their funds as quickly as possible.

Of course, the best front-row seat to the three-ring circus that is crypto is the r/Buttcoin cryptosnark community over at Reddit, and let me tell you, there has been no shortage of things to talk about. Many there predict that (much like the unraveling of the LUNA cryptocurrency “unraveling “stablecoin” on May 7th, 2022, which in turn led to the failures of cryptofirms like Celsius and Voyager) there will be a significant impact to the sudden FTX implosion (Sequoia announced that they have written down their investment in FTX to zero). Even in the crazy world of crypto, the speed with which Sam Bankman-Fried has fallen off his pedestal and destroyed his reputation and his companies (not to mention his investors’ money) is bonkers. But that’s not the only big news these past seven days.


First: The crypto crash is looking more and more like a sustained crypto nuclear winter. Blockchain is now tainted, perhaps irredeemably so, and blockchain-based metaverses are tainted by association. What this means is that the already-established, relatively stable platforms (Decentraland, Voxels, Somnium Space, and a handful of others) are going to have a very difficult time selling NFT-based land, avatar accessories, etc., as well as encouraging new users to come and set up shop. We’re rapidly reaching the point that the general, non-tech public will run the other way when crypto, blockchain, or NFTs are mentioned, given the unending litany of bad news.

People and companies who invested in these platforms at the height of the hype cycle may have to make some hard choices between holding on (perhaps forever) in hopes of seeing a profit, or being forced by circumstances to sell at a loss, because they desperately need to get out of the market. (Perhaps they worked at Meta or Twitter or some other company downsizing during this increasingly brutal recession?). In my opinion, this will keep prices for NFT properties at or near rock-bottom for the foreseeable future, and it will impact these metaverse firms and their future development plans.

But, as bad as that is, the news is even worse for those blockchain-based metaverse projects which have not yet launched. In my opinion, many of these projects are doomed to fail, taking their investors’ money along with it. Some were designed to be rugpulls from the very beginning, hoping to cash in on the ignorant, while others were just weirdly-hatched and poorly-executed but honest proposals (e.g. Cirque de Soleil’s Hanai World project, which I am told has now folded).


Second: Meta is wounded, having lost the public’s trust and investors’ confidence, and facing increasing blowback for its decision to heavily invest in the metaverse and virtual reality. Meta’s missteps are negatively affecting the general public’s impression of the “metaverse”.

Say the word “metaverse” to your average man (or woman) on the street and you probably would get one of the following two responses:

  1. The “metaverse” is Meta/Facebook’s Horizon Worlds and Horizon Workrooms only; or
  2. The “metaverse” consists of the blockchain/crypto/NFT-based platforms only, e.g. Decentraland, Voxels, Somnium Space, The Sandbox, etc.

I’ve already dealt with the blockchain-based metaverses above; now let’s turn to Meta. Mark Zuckerberg and his team at Meta have spent a fair deal of time and money to promote Meta’s visions of the “metaverse”. Mark doesn’t want you to spare a thought for the countless other metaverse platforms which have been in development for years, and in some cases like Second Life, decades. He wants you to focus on Meta. Meta, people! Pay no attention to those other people!!! (Yeah, I know; it’s going about as well as you can expect, given people’s lack of trust in Mark or his company.)

Things have not been going especially well for Meta at the moment, with numerous new media reporting on its financial turmoil, as Mark Zuckerberg invests billions of dollars into research and development to build his vision of the metaverse. Venture capitalist Nathan Benaich recently tweeted (please note that Meta Reality Labs is the R&D arm of Meta working on VR/AR/MR/XR projects.):

In fact, things have been going so badly for Meta lately that many metaverse pundits (myself included) have begun to worry that it is tainting the general public’s perception of the “metaverse”, perhaps unfairly so. Tony Vitillo (a.k.a. SkarredGhost), an Italian man whose blog, The Ghost Howls, covers the VR/AR/MR/XR industry and the metaverse, wrote a recent editorial which I think needs to be read. He echoes what I and other metaverse pundits have noticed for quite some time now: the general public’s mood on the metaverse has soured quickly.

Tony Vitello points out something that many of us writing about the metaverse have noticed for quite some time now: the concept of the metaverse is developing a bad reputation

In an article titled Meta bad, metaverse bad, Tony writes:

After my usual Sunday tour of Twitter and LinkedIn feeds to gather news for my weekly newsletter, I feel the need of writing a rant about a trend I’m seeing online after the Meta Connect about Meta and its involvement in the “metaverse” field.

Many journalists of important tech magazines (TechCrunch, Business Insider, etc…) are all playing a common sport now: targeting Meta and Mark Zuckerberg. They are all writing posts about how Meta has failed, the metaverse has failed, the Meta Quest Pro failed, and also Zuck has failed. Everything is a huge failure. I admit that this news has caught me by surprise, because I have many projects in XR that are doing pretty well, and actually this has been one of the best moments to be in the ecosystem for me. I’m sorry that I hadn’t received the memo that everything failed: I’ll stop doing what I’m doing now and immediately go looking for a job to make fries at McDonald’s.

Look, I get it. Bad news draws eyeballs and clicks, and most people don’t like or trust Mark Zuckerberg or his Meta/Facebook empire. So the negative press pile-on in the wake of the Meta Connect 2022 event was not unexpected. Here’s an example of the recent coverage, by Paul Tassi of Forbes:

Meta shocked the financial world this Thursday by posting a 52% profit decline, its second straight quarterly decline, and a revenue decline of 4% year-over-year. This decimated their stock so badly with a 24.5% drop that it caused financial analyst Jim Cramer to break down crying and apologize on air for having faith in the company.

A main culprit of Meta’s decline is the thing it was named after, Mark Zuckerberg’s relentless pursuit of the metaverse through the company’s Reality Labs division, which has lost $9.4 billion this year so far, and there are warnings that bigger and broader losses are to come in 2023.

And, of course, the news yesterday that Meta was laying off over 11,000 employees has not helped matters in the slightest. It’s not yet known how these massive layoffs will affect Meta’s work in virtual reality, augmented reality, and the metaverse, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a few projects in that area are trimmed. Many in the financial community are attacking Mark Zuckerberg and his desire to repivot Meta to be a metaverse company, and the negative blowback will also impact other companies working in this space. I’ve written more about this on my blog in this August 2022 editorial, How the Crypto Crash—and Meta’s Missteps—Are Souring the General Public on the Metaverse, so rather than repeat myself, I will direct you there if you want to learn more of my thoughts on the matter. On to the next point!


Third: Elon Musk is killing Twitter, and its death throes, plus Meta’s continued struggles, will lead to many people radically rethinking their use of social media, and leaving Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Image source: r/EnoughMuskSPam subreddit on Reddit

If you haven’t got the memo yet, surveillance capitalism and algorithmically-driven echo chambers/walled gardens are about as popular as crypto nowadays. Despite daily reassurances from the Chief Twit himself, the MIT Technology Review reports that Twitter may have already lost one million users, many of whom have moved to Mastodon and other federated services, beyond the control of capricious billionaires. And, while not in dire straits like Twitter, Meta’s social media platforms are similarly bleeding users, as the younger generations abandon Facebook and Instagram for TikTok (which, of course, has its own user data privacy and surveillance capitalism issues, not to mention a parent company now marketing a standalone VR headset to compete with Meta, but that is an issue for a different editorial).

How will this affect the metaverse? Well, for starters, it’s going to be a lot harder for metaverse-building companies to get attention using traditional social media during this time of turmoil and upheaval, which is their primary form of advertising. For example, Mastodon is notoriously resistant to influencer culture and corporate shilling, even going so far as to ban entire instances/servers to avoid being tainted by the filthy lucre of capitalism. (For example, the overly-protective but proactive moderator of the well-established scholar.social Mastodon instance/server just banned the new journa.host instance, because of problems the latter has had in setting up their server, which means that journalists who set up accounts on journa.host are barred from seeing what is going on over at the scholar.social server. These people, many of whom were burned by older forms of social media, are not playing around!)

Another example of the impact: I have unfollowed all the people I used to follow on Twitter, deleted almost all of my tweets, and deactivated my account, in direct reaction to the callous, heartless way that Elon Musk handled his layoffs, gutting half the Twitter staff (I wrote about it in an update at the end of my previous blogpost). This means that I deliberately cut off one venue by which I leaned about news and events taking place in the VR/AR/MR/XR and the metaverse. However, I am still a member of almost 100 different Discord servers, including the 715-member RyanSchultz.com Discord, and my connections there keep me just as well-informed, without having to take part in Facebook or Twitter! I am also quite active on Reddit, although lately most of that time has been spent lollygagging in r/Buttcoin! 😜


Finally, we are entering a severe global recession, with both mass layoffs (see above) and staffing shortages, combined with skyrocketing inflation, which means that we are going to continue to see chaos, disorder, and upheaval all around the world. The war in Ukraine is still upending global supply chains, and China’s continuing strict COVID lockdowns are still impacting product manufacturing. Oh, and did I mention that we need to act now to put the brakes on global climate change before many parts of the world become inhospitable and even uninhabitable? If you’re not depressed, then you haven’t been paying attention!*

Fasten your seatbelts, kids; I have a feeling it’s going to be a bumpy ride, and not just one bumpy night! While chaos can be liberating for some people, it is anxiety-inducing for many others (including myself). We are also still operating under an ongoing pandemic that is absolutely NOT over (for example, my best friend’s 92-year-old mother passed away from COVID-19 in hospital a couple of weeks ago). I am, still, barely leaving my apartment, and my university still has an indoor facemask mandate in place. (Good thing my passionate hobby is virtual reality and the metaverse! Avatars can’t catch the virus. 😉 )

In summary, this global chaos (plus all the other points I made above) will impact the people and companies building the metaverse, as well as the people using it! There will be new challenges, but also new opportunities. Expect the unexpected!


* If you are struggling with your mental health, at the start of the pandemic I pulled together a list of helpful resources, which you can find here. It’s a little out-of-date, but most of the links should still work. Remember, help is out there if you need it!

UPDATED! Cracked Tooth; No Blog

I have not been to the dentist in over two years, of course, because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. So when I started to develop a very painful toothache over the course of last week, I finally made an appointment and went to the dentists’ office yesterday.

It turns out that I have a cracked tooth under one of my dental fillings—no doubt due to all the teeth grinding I have been doing over the past couple of stressful years of pandemic living.

Because I cannot chew anything, I am living on a diet of various flavours of Boost and extra-strength painkillers, until my next dentist appointment tomorrow morning (with probably a few more visits to follow). I am NOT a happy camper, people.

So, unfortunately, the RyanSchultz.com blog (and the Metaverse Newscast show) will remain on hold for the foreseeable future, at least until I get my dental issues fixed. With the addition of a cracked tooth to the workload I was already trying to juggle, something has to give. Sorry, folks.

UPDATE April 21st, 2022: I had my cracked tooth fixed yesterday, but it’s going to take a few days to see if it’s completely better once it heals. I still might need a root canal (hopefully not!), and either way, the dentist wants to put a crown on top of it eventually. I still have partial dental coverage through my full-time paying job as an academic librarian, so I’m going to go with whatever the dentist recommends. Better to do it now than after I retire!

And I go back Friday for more dental work. Once all the work is completed, I will be fitted for a mouth guard, to protect against any further damage from my tooth-grinding!

Blog is still on hold for the time being. There’s no shortage of news to report on, and stories to write about, but I just don’t have time right now. Sorry!

UPDATE April 22nd, 2022: I’ve had four separate appointments with the dentist this week, to work on four different teeth. The good news is that I can chew food again without pain, but I still have a dull ache in my jaw tonight, where he patched up my cracked tooth.

I’m exhausted, completely worn out. Like I said, I’ll be back when I have time to post.

Pandemic Diary, February 20th, 2022: Everybody’s Getting COVID-19 (Even the Queen!)

Today is officially day 707 since I first began working from home for my university on March 16th, 2020, and the number of days that I have been back on campus since then is still in the single digits. (I will finally be returning to campus full-time on February 28th, 2022, when all the University of Manitoba Libraries will reopen. The university has a mask mandate and a vaccine mandate, going so far as to deregister those students who have not uploaded proof of vaccination to a special website. They are not messing around!)

Here in my home province of Manitoba, our government has started to lift the public health restrictions that have been in place, despite the still-alarmingly high number of hospitalizations and ICU admissions of COVID-19 patients. A Feb. 11th provincial government news release stated:

New public health orders will come into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 15 that will move all of Manitoba to the Yellow (Caution) level under the Pandemic Response System. Capacity limits will be eliminated in venues such as restaurants, licensed premises, entertainment venues, indoor and outdoor sporting events and casinos, as well as gatherings at private residences. Capacity limits will be removed for outdoor public gatherings but will be limited to 50 people indoors unless proof of vaccination is required. Young people ages 12 to 17 participating in indoor sports and recreation will no longer be required to provide proof of vaccination or recent testing. There are no changes to retail and personal services.

As of Feb. 15, close contacts of a person who tests positive for COVID-19 will no longer be required to self-isolate. Public health continues to recommend self-isolation for people who live in a household with others who have symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19 but it will no longer be required.

Many people (myself included) are questioning why the Manitoba government is moving so quickly, and seemingly against the advice of scientists, doctors, and public health experts, in lifting these restrictions. Premier Heather Stefanson has announced that Manitoba will, as of March 15, 2022 remove all mask requirements and all other COVID-19 restrictions, a decision that is also proving to be divisive. Some people are fully in support, while others feel it is still to risky.

As for me, I have essentially barricaded myself in my apartment since the start of the Omicron wave of the pandemic, only venturing out to visit my mother and stepfather (who also rarely leave their life-lease condo), and to pick up the groceries I order online via Walmart, picking a timeslot to avoid contact with other people as much as possible (Sunday mornings between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m.). I have also been wearing an N95 facemask every time I step out of my apartment, and practicing elaborate social distancing as much as possible.

Yes, I am so sick and tired of all this after seven hundred and seven days. Yes, I want this to be over as badly as the next person (although just declaring yourself “over COVID” ain’t going to make it happen!). But I honestly don’t believe that the pandemic is finished with us just yet, not when so much of the world’s population (especially in the poorer, Third World countries) hasn’t been vaccinated yet. There’s still too much chance of the coronavirus mutating again like it did with Omicron, and causing us to shut down all over again.

But I still want to evade the SARS-CoV-2 virus as long as possible, especially at a time when so many other people are getting sick, and Manitoba’s healthcare system is stretched to the limit! Because of my underlying health conditions (obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension, and asthma), even though I am triple-vaccinated, I still worry that I would have a severe case of COVID-19 if I were to become infected.

Today, my mother telephoned me to tell me the news that I have been expecting but dreading: two people among my family in Alberta have developed COVID-19. Fortunately, although both are sick, they are not seriously ill, and are thankfully not experiencing any breathing difficulties. (In both cases, it has been like a very bad case of the flu, with muscle aches and pains. One has a sore throat.)

I know that eventually I will catch COVID-19. My goal in 2022 is to avoid getting COVID-19 as long as I possibly can, so that when I do get it, every single possible healthcare support is readily available to me, including a good supply of anti-viral medications like Paxlovid, just in case I do land up in a worst-case scenario. It is extremely unlikely that I will be in that situation, but I still so worry.

And if that means that I will still be face masking and social distancing long after other people stop (and getting most of my socialization needs met via social VR and virtual worlds!), then that is a price I am willing to pay for my own peace of mind.

Photo by Tai’s Captures on Unsplash

Postscript: My friend John Facetimed me this afternoon and told me that CBC news has announced that Queen Elizabeth II has tested positive for COVID-19. I have seen pictures of the Queen looking so frail recently, so I am concerned:

She reminds me so much of my own beloved grandmother, who coincidentally was also named Elizabeth (she passed away well before the pandemic started). I would not call myself a monarchist by any stretch, but the Queen is still Canada’s head of state, and I wish her a speedy recovery.

Everybody’s getting COVID-19, it seems. It’s just a matter of when, and how bad.

Stay safe and stay healthy!

Pandemic Diary, January 26th, 2022: Why I Am So Goddamned Angry

My father (God rest his soul; he died when I was just 21) had a temper. There were times when I was on the receiving end of that anger, and they were terrifying. I swore that I would never become him, but then I fell into a different, but perhaps predictable, trap: both suppressing my anger (which led to my lifelong, chronic, clinical depression, a dragon I still battle today), and projecting my anger onto other people (becoming a compulsive people pleaser, particularly to bosses and other authority figures). Neither tactic helped me.

It wasn’t until I had a textbook-classic case of hit-the-wall burnout, circa 1997-1999, when I had to come face to face with the fact that how I was dealing (or more accurately, not dealing) with what was making me angry was undermining my life and, essentially, killing me. That painful realization was the start of a long journey of healing, which is still unfinished.

I would get into my subcompact car and drive around Winnipeg’s Perimeter Highway, screaming myself hoarse in rage, with all the windows rolled up. I had inherited a brown corduroy recliner of my father’s after his death, and I would kneel in front of it and beat the seat cushion with my fists in rage, until they bled. And I did a LOT of therapy, talking things through with the psychiatrists who prescribed different kinds of antidepressants to help me heal from my debilitating waves of depression, my suppressed anger. I also talked with other counsellors and wise people through the years. It all helped.

And, for the most part, it worked. Today, when something happens that make me angry, I can usually respond by actually feeling and being aware of my anger, within a reasonable time frame (minutes and hours, not left to fester for weeks, months, or even years). I can feel appropriately angry, identify what (or whom) made me angry, try to parse the situation intelligently, and get some sort of handle on it. This is all progress, good progress.

But the fact remains that today, I am angry. Let me tell you why I am so goddamned angry. I’m going to create a list.

  • I am angry that, despite having had the foresight to see that a pandemic was coming (to the point that I began blogging about it, exactly two years ago!), and despite preparing logistically for such an eventuality for years (even stocking up on canned beans and rice and N95 masks!), that I was as mentally and emotionally unprepared as anybody else when the pandemic did strike. No amount of prepping can prepare you for the actual moment when the shit hits the fan.
  • I am angry that so many people refused to listen to me between January and March of 2020, when I was telling anybody and everybody who would listen that we needed to prepare, collectively and individually, for a pandemic. I confused and upset people when I took a blog which heretofore had been about social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse, and starting posting item after item after item about the pandemic. I wore myself out, and I honestly don’t know how many people were actually helped or convinced by that frenzy of posting.
  • I am angry—no, make that incandescent with rage—at all the people who chose to listen to the misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories regarding the pandemic and vaccination, attacking the very scientists and healthcare workers to which they should have been paying attention. I am furious that, at a time when we could have all pulled together for the public good, during a public health crisis, we as a society instead chose to descend into divisive, argumentative factions, and that diviseness only seems to be getting worse instead of better. Who the fuck thinks it is okay to assault hospital workers, or send people like Dr. Fauci death threats?!??
  • I am furious at the collective failure of all levels of government—national, provincial and state, municipal—to provide humane, science-based responses which could have prevented so much needless suffering, sickness, and death. I am angry at all the politicians during this current Omicron wave of the coronavirus pandemic who threw up their hands, and walked away from the people who looked to them for leadership, and instead gave empty sound bites. (Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, I am looking at you. The next provincial election cannot come fast enough to toss your entire sorry government out on its asses.)
  • I am angry at how negatively my depression and anxiety have impacted my life, my career, and my beloved work on this blog and the Metaverse Newscast. I could have done so much better; I could have done so much more. The pandemic has just been beating the absolute motherfucking shit out of me lately, and I hate, hate, HATE that. Hate what two years of unrelenting stress and anxiety has done to me, hate what I have become as I barricade myself yet again in my apartment, practising elaborate social distancing when I do venture out, picking up my fucking groceries between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. on a Sunday from the pick-up at my local Walmart, standing well clear of the car while it was loaded up. I fucking hate it and I want to scream in frustration and rage, just as I had to scream out my anger at my father, only this time I don’t have a convenient target for that anger.

I am lying here, typing all this into my iPad, on the verge of angry tears which won’t come, which won’t break through. I am so angry of being scared and so angry of being tired, and frankly so angry and fed up with being angry. And yet, the situation calls for still more patience, more forbearance, and more forgiveness, than I can seem to find within myself. I’m not sure how much more I can stretch, today.

I am angry at every twist and turn and disappointment and heartbreak of this pandemic, and angry at all the collective suffering, pain, and chaos it has caused.

I am just plain angry.

I’m angry

And maybe that’s all I can do today, is just be angry. And perhaps use that anger as a fuel, to somehow, someway, propel me into tomorrow. To a day when I’m not so angry.