The news has just come in that Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta is slashing 11,000 jobs, which is 13% of the company and more than one in eight staff. The tech giant has taken this step after a catastrophic downfall in revenue, which has left the company behind Facebook overstaffed and “inefficient”, the chief executive said in a note to staff.
But amid this mass layoff, the news is also in that Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has acquired Cambridge-based startup Audio Analytic, which builds AI-driven sound recognition software. The acquisition amount has not been disclosed. As per the reports, the company will join Meta’s Reality Labs division, which handles the development of AR and VR tech.
Metaverse, the future of internet!
Founded in 2008 by Chris Mitchell in Cambridge in the UK, Audio Analytic, aims to augment consumer tech with high-end sound recognition and also has offices in San Jose, California. It has trained AI to recognise a wide range of sounds, including dogs barking, smoke alarms, a baby’s cry, and windows breaking. The company’s website and its tech can provide machines with the most robust, accurate, and company sense of hearing on the planet.
Audio Analytic’s ai3 software helps chip makers, device makers, and AI service providers build connected products that recognise and react to commonplace sounds.
Prior to the acquisition, Audio Analytic raised $25 million from investors. The Meta deal hands high-profile exits to backers such as National Grid Partners, the strategic arm of UK/US energy grid operator National Grid, IQ Partners and Cambridge Innovation Capital, the Cambridge university venture fund.
Why this acquisition?
The acquisition of Audio Analytic is a part of Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to make Metaverse the future of the internet. The startup will fall under the division’s audio research department, which focuses on making virtual sounds and speech realistic. The company will join Meta’s Reality Labs Research arm, an R&D unit, which helms the company’s push to forge a metaverse made up of virtual reality worlds, holograms, and augmented reality that brings metaverse capability out into the world.
This is a step taken by Meta to take the VR product range into higher-end markets. Reality Labs Research has 12 R&D units globally and has a slate of connected hardware and augmented reality programs, designed with the enterprise market in mind.
Recently, Zuckerberg took a massive hit when the company revealed profits 50% lower in the September quarter, which promoted a $78 billion write-down on Meta shares in the following. It is splurging too much on the Metaverse concept, which that third-quarter sales revenue plunged by 4%.
This is not the first time that Meta is tapping into European startups to help it create and dominate the metaverse space. The company acquired Berlin-based Lofelt this summer, and Scape Technologies in 2020.