Facebook enters the metaverse, and Olympics near the finish line

Planet Business: Dating apps rake in the dosh, and jabs become a job requirement

Japan’s Miho Nonaka pictured after her speed qualification in sport climbing, one of the new Olympic sports introduced to broaden the appeal of the Games. Photograph: STR/Jiji Press/AFP

Japan’s Miho Nonaka pictured after her speed qualification in sport climbing, one of the new Olympic sports introduced to broaden the appeal of the Games. Photograph: STR/Jiji Press/AFP

 

Image of the week: Olympic relief

With Tokyo 2020 in the home straight and about to hand over the last of the medallist bouquets, organisers can finally think about exhaling. The Games has almost made it all the way to the closing ceremony and relief in Japan will closely resemble that felt here by Japanese sport climber Miho Nonaka as she sits back in her safety ropes after posting her speed qualification time in the women’s sport climbing combined event. (Japanese animation’s life-size robot Gundam Unicorn is hanging out in the background.) The television-friendly sport climbing, in which athletes must scramble up walls to touch a buzzer without slipping or falling, is one of the new Olympic sports – alongside skateboarding and surfing – that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) hopes will appeal to younger viewers in a way that the likes of eventing and fencing perhaps don’t quite.

In numbers: Love pays

15 million

Paying users of Match Group’s dating app brands, which include Tinder, Hinge and OkCupid, up from 13 million a year ago.

13%

Daily average swipe activity was up this much on the Tinder app in the second quarter compared to the same period in 2020, helping Match to adjusted quarterly earnings of $263 million (€221 million) before interest, tax and write-offs.

26%

Year-on-year direct revenue growth at Tinder, which now has 9.6 million paying users: Match chief executive Shar Dubey hailed the resilience of the company to the Covid crisis and declaring it “optimistic” about its momentum.

Getting to know: The metaverse

The first thing anyone needs to know about the metaverse is that Facebook is going big on it. Coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, the metaverse was given a profile boost last week when the first line of Facebook’s second-quarter earnings release saw chief executive Mark Zuckerberg segue from his usual bit about helping people “stay connected” to declaring himself excited to see its initiatives around “creators and community, commerce and building the next computing platform coming together to start to bring the vision of the metaverse to life”. To date, the concept of an interoperable online world that is part virtual and part physical seems to tickle the fancies of gamers most of all, but that doesn’t mean it won’t come for all of us in the end. Working from home? Once Big Tech realises its metaverse dreams, it won’t look or feel like it.

The list: Jabbed arms only

Household-name US companies have been taking turns to announce that only employees who have been vaccinated can return to the office, unless they haven’t done so due to pregnancy, health complications or their religious beliefs. Here are just some of them.

1. Google. Chief executive Sundar Pichai said the policy will be introduced in the US first and won’t apply internationally unless vaccines “are widely available in your area”. Oh, and everybody can stay home until October 18th.

2. Netflix. The streamer became the first major Hollywood company to confirm it wants all US cast and “Zone A” crew on its productions to be vaccinated. That should help with the insurance premiums.

3. Disney. On-site employees in its theme parks must be vaxxed up, confirmed Disney, which described vaccines as the “best tool” it has to protect its staff – better even than, say, giant animal costumes.

4. Washington Post. Proof of vaccination will soon be a “condition of employment”, according to the newspaper’s publisher. But, like Google, it has postponed its back-to-school date until mid-October.

5. Microsoft. Not just employees but also guests to its US facilities must be vaccinated from September. Note to conspiracists: Bill Gates is no longer on the Microsoft board.

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