Under the hot concept of "metaverse", the competition for talents has intensified.
According to the "Wall Street Journal" local time on January 10, Microsoft's AR (augmented reality) team lost more than 100 employees, of which more than 40 people switched to Meta Platforms.
Competitors have been vying for people with experience developing Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality headset, sometimes offering double salaries, according to former Microsoft employees. Microsoft's AR team has about 1,500 employees.
Microsoft HoloLens team members flow to Meta
In the past year, the LinkedIn profiles of more than 70 former HoloLens team members showed they were leaving Microsoft, and more than 40 of them joined Meta, according to The Wall Street Journal. Some of the team's longtime leaders were among the departing employees. For example, Charlie Han, who was in charge of gathering customer feedback for HoloLens, left last summer to join Meta. Josh Miller, who works on the display team, has been Meta's display director in recent months.
The future of Microsoft's HoloLens has become more turbulent as rivals benefit from a year-long brain drain.
A Microsoft spokesperson said the company has been at the forefront of innovation in Metaverse technology for years and "will continue to develop state-of-the-art hardware that is more immersive, less expensive, and available in a variety of form factors."
Microsoft didn't disclose the details of the HoloLens team but said employee turnover is a constant challenge for many teams, and Microsoft is doing everything it can to retain employees and recruit new ones when needed.
Microsoft launched the HoloLens augmented reality headset in 2015. According to analyst estimates, Microsoft has shipped 200,000 to 250,000 units. Yet there has been only one hardware upgrade since 2015, and the software portion of the platform has few new features. For now, Microsoft remains a leader in augmented reality development, with more than 250,000 HoloLens headsets sold to businesses for $3,500 each.
Due to its high price and lack of immersive experience, Microsoft shifted the focus of HoloLens to the enterprise market. Previously, the U.S. military announced that it had signed a contract with Microsoft. The contract stated that Microsoft would customize a HoloLens-based military headset for the U.S. military’s IVAS headset project, and the contract value would be as high as $21.88 billion.
Microsoft is working on a lighter, less expensive version for consumers, but it's still years away from the market, according to former Microsoft employees. Former employees also revealed that Microsoft did not hire enough engineers to deal with the pressure the IVAS project was putting on company resources. That has made some employees question Microsoft's commitment to developing the technology, making them more likely to accept offers from rivals, including Meta.
Meta, Microsoft metaverse positioning is different
Unlike Microsoft, Meta focuses on the consumer market.
Previously, Meta announced plans to spend at least $10 billion in its VR/AR division Facebook Reality Labs this year. Thanks to aggressive investments, Meta is hiring key AR team members from other companies including Microsoft and Apple.
"We are at the beginning of the next chapter of the Internet, and this is the next chapter of our company." Zuckerberg, the founder of Meta, once said, "We hope that within the next ten years, the Metaverse will cover 1 billion people and carry data A $100 billion digital business and supporting the work of millions of creators and developers.”
Zuckerberg once stated: "The next platform and medium will be a more immersive and embodied Internet, where you will be in the experience, not just as a spectator, we call it the metaverse. "
In addition, he once said in an interview, "Virtual reality will be an important part of the metaverse and a part of our focus. It will be accessible on all of our different computing platforms, such as VR, AR, PC mobile devices. and game consoles."
Since the acquisition of Oculus in 2014, Meta has mainly focused on hardware and applications, and its business direction follows the attributes of social entertainment.
Compared to the metaverse of Meta, Microsoft has put more emphasis on the digital office. In Microsoft's view, the essence of the metaverse is to build a digital world that is permanently and stably connected to the real world. The metaverse will allow elements such as people, objects, and fields in the physical world to share experiences with the digital world.
During Ignite 2021, Microsoft's annual technology conference, Microsoft released two important features around the Metaverse: Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces provides a new perspective to help managers gain insight into how people move and interact in spaces such as retail stores and factory floors and how they manage health and safety in a hybrid work environment; Mesh for Microsoft Teams incorporates the mixed reality capabilities of Microsoft Mesh, allowing people in different locations to join collaboration through the productivity tool Teams, hold meetings, send messages, work on shared documents, and more, a shared holographic experience.