As other US tech moguls suffered losses this year, Mark Zuckerberg is no exception. However, his loss is exceptionally huge, making him drop fourteen places on the list of the world’s wealthiest billionaires. 


Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta (Facebook), an international technology conglomerate, has seen his wealth increase and drop in the past. However, losing $71 billion this year puts him at his lowest ebb since his tech journey started in 2004 as a Havard student. He presently sits at the 20th position according to Bloomberg Billionaire Index after being as high as the third two years ago.

Just two years after his wealth peaked as a tech mogul, Mark has imbibed some changes to his social networking company. In a presentation at Facebook’s annual Connect conference in 2021, he announced that his company would be rebranded as Meta—the move that preceded a shift in concentration for the company.

The metaverse is a virtual space that exists alongside the real world. It can be used for anything, from socializing with friends to shopping for new clothes. In other words, it’s a network where people from all over the world can interact in their personal spaces using augmented and virtual reality.

While Mark believed in his metaverse dream, it’s been a rocky affair for his business since the transition occurred. The first sign was the severe decline in Facebook users. As The Washington Post reported on the second day of  February this year, for the first time in its 18-year history, Facebook saw daily user declines, dropping by around 500,000 in the final three months of 2021. Accordingly, this decline caused the company’s stock price to plummet, and Zuckerberg lost $31 billion, considered one of the most significant one-day losses in wealth.

Bloomberg billionaire index

Unfazed by the disappointments that assailed the metaverse, Mark reiterated his unshaken belief in it.

In an interview on The Joe Rogan Experience in August, Mark said his desire is for healthier and better internet use. “My goal for these next set of platforms, they are going to be more immersive, and hopefully they’ll be more useful—but I don’t necessarily want people to spend more time with computers,” he told Rogan. “I just want the time people spend with screens to be better, ” he said.

The Meta Woes

It is worthy of notice that Mark’s metaverse has not gained the legitimacy it sought to gain from the outset. For instance, Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and the wealthiest person on Earth, derided the idea of the metaverse in an interview with The Babylon Bee, a satirical publication.  “I don’t see someone strapping a frigging screen to their face all day and never wanting to leave. That seems — no way,” he said, dismissing the relevance of the metaverse. 

In fact, Mark has been trying to beat his perceived greatest competitor, TikTok, a Chinese social platform that hosts entertaining reels. To retain Meta’s dominance, he has tried to add features similar to that of TikTok to Instagram, one of the social media platforms under Meta. However, influencers criticized his actions, particularly Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian. Notably, TikTok emerged as the most visited website of 2021, a signal for its large use and decline in others like Facebook and Instagram.

Mark Zuckerberg has “truly lost his way,” according to Bill George, a senior fellow at Harvard Business School, and is driving his firm Meta toward ruin. He made these comments in an interview with CNBC, where he discussed his latest book, True North: Leading Authentically in Today’s Workplace, Emerging Leader Edition. George believes Mark does not accept his mistakes but blames his failures on others, such as the user decline on TikTok and Apple’s privacy changes.

Apple updated the iPhone with a feature that prevents companies from tracking you between apps. Most users chose not to be tracked, which has a significant negative financial impact on Facebook. 

As a company that relies on databases for advertising, the Apple privacy changes that provided users the option to bar the collection of advertising data were a thorn in Meta’s flesh. Compared to, for example, Android app users, iPhone consumers represent a much more valuable market for Facebook’s advertising. When using an iPhone to access the internet, users spend more money on the goods and services that mobile advertisements recommend. In fact, following the privacy changes, Mark said they would cost him $10 billion.

Worse still, Meta’s metaverse, the shift believed to have affected Meta wholly, has not been in the news for good reasons. In May 2022, a researcher claimed she was raped in the metaverse. 

According to SumOfUs, a nonprofit advocacy group, the researcher was raped by a user in the metaverse who kept telling her to turn around so he could do it from behind. In contrast, others watched and passed a bottle of vodka. In fact, four others were reported to have been harassed sexually in the metaverse. Accordingly, a report by SumOfUs describes the metaverse as another cesspool of toxic content.

From Meta stock going down to a surge in the unpopularity of the metaverse, Meta’s woes become a thorny path for Mark to thread. As of last week, Meta shares plunged 14%, their lowest since the Covid-19 pandemic. Still, Mark does not appear to want to throw the towel on his metaverse dream after spending over $10 billion with no significant returns. 

To make matters worse, Meta is grappling with antitrust investigations on its Virtual Reality division by the US Federal Trade Commission. According to a report by  Bloomberg, since last year, third-party VR developers have been meeting with the FTC and attorneys general from North Carolina, Tennessee, and New York as they seek clarity on Meta’s business practices. This is one of many investigations into the company’s stronghold over a growing but still niche market segment.

Nevertheless, Mark appears to be aware of the losses his project will incur in the coming years. According to Bloomberg, in May this year, he told shareholders that the project would lose money over the coming years (three to five). However, his belief might not be as strong as his current and former employees, as they told Insider that only the metaverse is of interest to Zuckerberg, who lacks a clear plan for the project that he believes will shape the internet’s future.

Aremu Adams Adebisi graduated from college with a B.Sc in Economics. He’s pursuing his MBA while covering trending topics in trading, investment, and cryptocurrency. He’s fascinated by the surges of...

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