Tencent, which runs the Wechat social media platform and is China’s largest company by market capitalization, said it is executing a “personnel reshuffle” in its extended reality (XR) unit that handles metaverse initiatives, but denied the team working in the unit was being disbanded, as reported by local media. 

Fast facts

  • The 36kr news site that covers China’s technology industries said in a report on Thursday that Tencent’s XR unit – which has over 300 staff – was being partially disbanded, citing unnamed sources.
  • The 36kr reports said members of the unit had been told they had two months to find other positions within Tencent or in other companies. 
  • A Tencent spokesperson told Forkast on Friday that a staff reshuffle is taking place following changes to its development plan for the XR business. The spokesperson declined to give further details on the reshuffle.
  • A person familiar with the developments who declined to be named did inform Forkast that the staff involved in the reshuffle will be given two months to find opportunities inside or outside the company.
  • XR is a catch-all term for technologies including augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), and other technologies used in metaverse development. Tencent launched its XR unit in June 2022, with tech giants such as Alibaba and Bytedance also betting on metaverse technologies.
  • Microsoft, which announced its industrial metaverse project in October 2022, has now laid off all the roughly 100 employees in the team, according to The Information news site in a Feb. 9 report. The metaverse division of Meta, which owns Facebook, posted a loss of $13.7 billion in 2022.
  • (Updates throughout to clarify comments from Tencent.)

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