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Tencent reshuffles metaverse department amid rumors of disbandment

Chinese technology giant Tencent has confirmed that it will carry out a “personnel reshuffle” in its metaverse unit to strategize a new course in the future. The disclosure was in response to a report from local news media 36kr that claimed Tencent was disbanding the entire unit.

All the departments in Tencent’s virtual worlds unit received a notice from upper-level executives to seek employment in other departments within the company or other firms within two months, according to 36kr’s report. A total of 300 individuals will be affected by the “personnel reshuffle” decision as China’s largest company by market capitalization seeks new ideas.

Tencent’s push into the metaverse began in 2022 with the creation of the XR unit, but the cracks had begun showing by the start of the year following the suspension of one business arm. Things went from bad to worse after Shen Li, the brain behind the company’s entire metaverse push, left the department. Shen Li had previously worked for NExT Studios, Ubisoft (NASDAQ: UBSFF), and Epic Games.

A company insider claimed that the employee reshuffling was designed to bring in individuals with considerable experience in hardware development. It is widely reported that Tencent has been mulling over the development of virtual reality hardware for its foray into the metaverse after losing out in a bid to buy hardware firm Pico.

Other attempts to acquire hardware manufacturing firms like Black Shark and Yingchuang fell through, prompting the company to consider looking inwards.

Big Tech firms jostle for metaverse’s top spot

Big Tech firms began pivoting toward metaverse in 2021 during the surge of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), with Facebook (NASDAQ: META) taking the lead. The social media firm changed its name to Meta, signaling a keen interest in developing its metaverse version for customers.

Less than one year later, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) joined the train by announcing a large-scale metaverse project, followed by Chinese tech giants Alibaba (NASDAQ: BABAF) and Bytedance. However, the pursuit of the top spot has suffered some tragedies occasioned by the prolonged bear market and other unfavorable macroeconomic conditions.

Meta recorded a loss of over $13 billion, while Microsoft was forced to lay off 100 employees of its metaverse team. Despite the declining stock, experts believe that fortunes could turn around in 2023 as the “crypto winter” begins to thaw.

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