May 03 2023
No developer too small: how this leader is opening doors in VR
By Meta Careers
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Mario L., Head of VR content review operations, believes in the power of “speaking things into existence” — a practice that has empowered him to shape his own reality. When Mario read about Oculus for the first time in 2014, he immediately knew Meta was the place he wanted to build his career. “I thought, ‘VR is the future, and I want to be part of it,’” he shares.

Three years later, Mario joined Meta as a sales leader in the Global Business Group and boomeranged back in 2020. He made his way to Reality Labs where he’s now building a more collaborative, inclusive future in VR on the AR/VR content review operations team. “When I reflect on how I got here, I remember why I enjoy this space so much,” he says. “It’s more than the way VR lights up people’s eyes. It’s more than just games. This product connects people in new, inventive ways.”

Empowering developers to break through the noise

Mario’s career has come full circle in more ways than one. Before he joined Meta, he founded a small studio to ship mobile app games. “We struggled to break through on large platforms where there are already millions of games, so I experienced developer pain points firsthand,” he shares. Today, his team supports small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) through the development and publishing process. “While big titles have a managed relationship with Meta, we’re focused on helping SMBs be just as successful. I’ve been in their shoes, and I’m really proud of what we’re doing as a team.”

Mario and his team review store apps through App Lab, a platform that empowers developers to distribute apps directly to consumers. Using App Lab, developers can experiment and refine their title, and learn best practices from Mario’s team, such as monetizing their apps. “We make it as easy and reliable as possible for small studios to get their app into the VR ecosystem,” Mario says. “Building an app is hard, but submitting it for review shouldn’t be a barrier.”

Through empowering developers, Mario and his team have helped launch many well-loved titles, including Sense Arena, a tennis app. Sense Arena was so in demand that the studio launched the app in App Lab to get it into pro tennis players’ hands faster. “This space is so exciting because we get to see apps before they’re available within the Meta Quest Store,” Mario smiles. “Our team gets to be part of the process of people falling in love with VR.”

Scaling operations to build integrity and safety

Mario and his team are also responsible for reviewing apps that developers submit through the content review pipeline, checking for everything from app performance to guideline compliance before they go to the Meta Quest Store. “Our team employs a trusted, fair, standard and repeatable process built on safety and integrity,” he explains. “We do everything we can to inform developers about becoming more compliant, driving more trust and doing well for their business.”

“We serve as guardians for trust, integrity and safety, and we have responsibility in this space.”

Efficiency and speed are top priorities for Mario and his team. “It used to take weeks for us to complete the submission and review process for apps while developers waited,” he remembers. “But turnaround time is important to us, so we invested in internal tooling that helped expedite our SLAs. The entire process has been streamlined, so there are fewer hurdles between developers and their dreams.”

Internal tooling is just one way Mario and his team work with cross-functional partners to scale their operations within Meta. “We started by collaborating with engineering teams to build internal tools that our reviewers use,” he shares. “Now, there are product managers who are invested in building an entire roadmap based on our needs and developer success. It speaks to the impact we’re making in the developer ecosystem.”

Creating a more inclusive future

Mario and his team are focused on helping build a more inclusive future. “I take pride in being part of building the future of technology, especially when it comes to representation,” he shares. “There aren’t a lot of folks who look like me in this space — and I don’t wear this on my sleeve, but I hold it in my heart.”

“When I show up for my team, I’m hoping to open doors and diversify the type of talent we bring into this space. Those people will contribute to this platform and shape the future.”

Looking ahead, Mario is already inspired by the diversity of titles in VR technology. “Not everyone is a gamer. Many people are using VR for meditation, exercise and education — which I see as an opportunity to level the playing field,” he says. “I really believe in this computing platform. My son is three, and I hope his generation inherits a treasure trove of new technology. Using VR to teach kids how to build and learn isn’t in the future — it’s now!”

The developer ecosystem team is publishing hundreds of titles per quarter, which engages people in new ways and brings them closer together. “Being able to get these titles out is just as valuable as curation in the store. We’re empowering a cohort of developers who were previously underserved.”

For people who want to shape the future of VR, Mario encourages “bringing your energy, spirit and an open mind.” “We’re close to the beginning of the story, and we’re all in it together,” he says. “Understand that this is a new space, and show why you want to be here.”

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