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Former Google CEO sounds skeptical that Facebook will build the metaverse

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt sounded skeptical on Tuesday that Meta, formerly known as Facebook, will succeed at building the metaverse.

“I look forward to excellent innovation in the metaverse,” Schmidt told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Tuesday. “I’ve been waiting for about thirty years … As to whether Facebook will build that, I don’t know.”

Schmidt reacted to the news that Meta would shift its focus to build the metaverse, a virtual world where you can socialize, work and play. Google, Microsoft and Apple are all working on technology that can help build the metaverse as well. But the vision could take a decade or more to come to fruition.

Schmidt said he will continue to call the company Facebook, just as others call Alphabet “Google,” which he said is “how it really works.” The promise of the metaverse, he added, is powerful but could pose problems when people forgo real life for the virtual world.

The rise of the metaverse does pose questions for regulators already fighting to regulate social media, the internet and misinformation. Facebook is currently facing increased scrutiny from Congress and the media after former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked documents that ignited a series of Wall Street Journal stories that revealed the company is aware of many problems but chooses to ignore or not resolve them.

“We’re going to have to figure it out,” he said about regulating the metaverse. “I don’t think we know. I don’t think regulators today have the right formulation or even how to discuss this.”

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