Will Zuckerberg’s Metaverse Bet Pay Off?

In 1990, a new tech start-up was spun out of Apple to invent the future.

General Magic, as it was called, was a veritable dream factory.

Over the course of its 12-year existence, its founders—former Apple engineers who had helped bring the original Macintosh computer to fruition—developed technologies and applications that wouldn’t be in common use for several more years. Chief among them was a precursor to the smartphone, but more than that, the General Magic team foresaw the age of mobile computing in totality, complete with social media, e-commerce and emojis.

Alas, no one bought its products, and General Magic was forced to close shop in 2002, a couple of years before anyone was friended on “TheFacebook” and five years before Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the world.

Modern history is full of inventions and technologies that failed not because they were inherently flawed but because they hit the market several years too early. Before the iPad, there was the Microsoft Tablet (released way back in 2001). Before Bitcoin, there was Bit Gold (conceived in 1998).

This week, autonomous vehicle start-up Argo AI announced it was shutting down after only five years, with financial backer Ford saying that commercialization of the technology is “further out than originally anticipated.”

The question now on many investors’ minds is: Will Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse project follow the same path as General Magic and Argo AI, or will it go in the direction of the iPhone?