Let’s hope Mark Zuckerberg (Meta) is more James Halliday (Gregarious) than Nolan Sorrento (IOI)

Alan Smithson
5 min readOct 29, 2021


Nolan Sorrento (left), Mark Zuckerberg (middle), James Halliday (right)

Today Facebook officially changed its name and ticker symbol from Facebook (FB) to Meta (MVRS) Meta.com. Mark Zuckerberg was centre stage through the entire announcement and he had the excited look of a kid who has just discovered space. I truly believe that Facebook, despite any amount of negative press or pressures, has been a net positive for the world.

Facebook (FB) announces its new name, Meta (MVRS)

Think about how many times a day you, personally use one of their incredible products (Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus) without any cost to you (except giving up your data to advertisers without your knowledge, but more on that later). Meta (formerly Facebook), has truly revolutionized human communications for billions of people around the world by allowing us to share photos, stories, memories, chats, VR games and allowed millions of content creators, small businesses and brands to thrive while providing consumers with relevant products and services. And all it ever cost us was our time and attention.

Meta has made massive bets on VR buying Oculus for over $3b and committing to investing $10b per year to develop the entire spectrum of hardware and software tools that will be required for a persistent, virtual world where we play, learn, dream and build together. This investment will spur on other large companies to stand up and take note and hyper-accelerate investments and acquisitions across the entire Metaverse spectrum. Challenges across 3D models, avatars, worlds, environments, spatial audio, computer vision, AI and so much more need to be solved before the vision of a real Metaverse is achieved as highlighted by my personal highlight, Mark’s interview with their Chief Scientist, Michael Abrash.

Meta’s Chief Scientist, Michael Abrash sharing technical challenges in the Metaverse.

As Mark was giving his keynote, I was on a panel with an elite group of global executives at PTTOW! and they asked a simple poll that speaks volumes. “Where do you stand on a Metaverse strategy?”…

I share this poll because at the very moment Facebook was announcing its plans to become Meta, executives around the world were already convinced that this is the next big thing.

“43% of global executives are saying the Metaverse is a Big part of their 2022 strategy” — PTTOW Survey Oct 28, 2021.

In a recent article I published ‘A brand guide to the Metaverse’ I outline how brands are already building for this new reality.

So if the world is ready for the Metaverse, and billions of investments and M&A are about to transact, and we are all about to live inside virtual worlds for work and play, I guess its time to address the elephant in the room, our privacy, security, autonomy and democracy.

For anyone who has watched the Steven Spielberg hit movie, Ready Player One, or for the much fewer who have read the book of the same name by Ernest Cline, you will know of the two main corporations;

Gregarious Simulation Systems, whose loveable, geeky and altruistic founder James Halliday appears in the Oasis (Metaverse) as a wise elder who built the platform to become a place where everyone could live, work and play together, free from pesky advertising and spam and with the utmost thought and consideration for the humans behind the avatars in the simulation. He hides three keys and whoever finds all three first, wins control of the entire Oasis (think the Internet).

“The first person to find the egg I have hidden in the Oasis, will inherit my stock in Gregarious Games ($500b) and total control of the Oasis itself” — James Halliday

James Halliday IRL (left) and Anarack, The All Knowing (right)

Innovative Online Industries on the other hand is lead by a power hungry, money-driven and frankly unlikeable CEO, Nolan Sorrento whose sole mission is to find the keys hidden in the Oasis, take over the platform and sell more ads, the most obvious, easiest and profitable path.

“We estimate that we can sell up to 80% of an individuals visual field before inducing seizures” — Nolan Sorrento, CEO IOI (Ready Player One)

Nolan Sorrento (left), CEO IOI and his Oasis Avatar (right)

Over the past few months, there has been damning whistleblower testimonies, senate hearings, media tear downs and an overall negative view of Facebook and some even saw today’s announcement as a distraction away from these very serious allegations and indictments.

Today’s keynote not only addressed these directly, but also did so right up front in the first few seconds.

“With all the scrutiny and public debate, some of you might be wondering why we’re doing this right now. The answer is that I believe we are put on this Earth to create…We live for what we are building…As long as I am running this company, I will do my best to celebrate this spirit (of creation) and absolutely go for it. — Mark Zuckerberg

Mark himself clearly acknowledges that he is not perfect, Facebook is not perfect, but by listening and working together, we can build next phase of the internet (Metaverse) responsibly…and I can’t help but to believe him.

What comes next is really up to the new team at Meta and I cannot wait to see the incredible technological advancements they invent and bring to the world because I believe Mark Zuckerberg to be more of a James Halliday kind of business leader than a Nolan Sorrento, but we will have to see how this plays out to be sure.

About Me:

My purpose in life is to inspire and educate people to think and act in a socially, economically and environmentally responsible way.

I make creator tools: Emulator , MetaVRse, and Your Director AI (Stealth)

I am a TEDx Speaker, Podcast Host and was featured on Dragons’ Den. I was a DJ for more than 20 years performing for millions of people winning DJ Mag’s Innovative Product of the Year in 2011.



Alan Smithson

Alan’s purpose in life is to inspire and educate future leaders to think and act in a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable way.