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Facebook's new metaverse group adds Instagram, gaming execs

The reorganization within Facebook Reality Labs looks to add hundreds of new jobs and focus on the social glue between VR, AR and the rest of Facebook

Facebook Horizon, a social universe that's in private beta, could be at the center of where Facebook's Metaverse group builds its focus.

Facebook is betting big on metaverses, and a new organization within Facebook Reality Labs will focus on the hot territory. The new group will aim to be the "connective tissue" between the company's VR, AR and telepresence products like Facebook Portal, Andrew Bosworth, VP of VR and AR products at Facebook, said Monday.

"The metaverse is already here as a collection of digital worlds each with its own physics to determine what's possible within them. The defining quality of the metaverse will be presence -- the feeling of really being there with people -- and FRL has been focused on building products that deliver presence across digital spaces," Bosworth said in a statement.

While Facebook's definition of a metaverse, according to Bosworth, sounds wide-ranging, it also sounds like a cross-platform group focused on blending traditional Facebook, gaming, and VR/AR into one cohesive world. The emphasis looks to be multi-device, and certainly VR-optional. Facebook's still-not-public social metaverse, Horizon, looks to be the backbone of a lot of the metaverse group's future growth.

The new group will be headed by Instagram's Head of Product Vishal Shah. Vivek Sharma of Facebook Gaming will lead the Cloud Infrastructure team, and Jason Rubin (formerly of Oculus, recently at Facebook Gaming) will be head of content for the new group.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussed the idea of building a connecting metaverse for work and entertainment via the company's upcoming social platform, Horizon, during a conversation I had with with him earlier this year. He re-emphasized his interest in metaverses more recently in a conversation with Casey Newton via The Verge.