A tech founder born in the Soviet Union has compared metaverse hype to the communist propaganda he experienced as a child

By January 12, 2022Metaverse
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Mark Zuckerberg in the metaverse
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is a leading proponent of the metaverse.
  • Evernote founder Phil Libin discussed the metaverse on a podcast hosted by tech journalist Eric Newcomer.
  • Libin, who was born in the Soviet Union, compared metaverse hype with the communist propaganda he experienced as a child.
  • He described the metaverse as "spectacularly stupid," among other things.

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A tech founder has compared today's hype around the metaverse with Soviet propaganda he experienced as a child.

Phil Libin, founder of note-taking app Evernote and CEO of video conferencing company Mmhmm, made the comments in a podcast hosted by tech journalist Eric Newcomer, published Tuesday.

Libin expressed deep skepticism of tech companies touting the metaverse and drew a comparison with his childhood experience growing up in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, Russia.

Libin said: "I went to first grade in the Soviet Union, I was subjected to a lot of Soviet propaganda, and I was told as a little kid repeatedly: 'Communism doesn't exist yet. We haven't built communism yet. We're building towards communism. What you see around you, this horrible, horrible place, isn't communism. We're building towards it, and it might be great when it gets here.'"

Libin continued: "You know you can smell a bad idea before it's fully built. So I don't wanna hear 'oh yeah the metaverse doesn't exist yet. All this stupid, useless, crappy stuff that exists right now – that's not the metaverse.' The metaverse is coming – it's coming."

The word metaverse is borrowed from science-fiction and refers to a future version of the internet which is accessed through immersive technologies such as virtual-reality and augmented-reality headsets. It has been pushed in particular by Mark Zuckerberg, who rebranded Facebook as Meta in October last year.

"It is a gloss that uncreative people and companies put over fundamentally a lack of good ideas," Libin said.

"There's a part of me that hates it and a part of me that fears it, but since I think it's so spectacularly stupid there's actually not that much to fear," he added.

Libin said he thinks VR headsets will be a major inhibiting factor for the metaverse.

"VR is the thing that guarantees none of this will ever take off because no one wants to spend any amount of time with a plastic thing strapped to their face," he said.

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