WhatsApp Business to Drive Sales Faster Than Metaverse, Says Meta CEO

Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees Thursday that WhatsApp and Messenger will fuel the company’s next growth, as he seeks to ease concerns about Meta’s finances after its first mass layoffs.

Zuckerberg, speaking to direct questions at a company-wide meeting a week after Meta said it would lay off 11,000 workers, described the messaging apps as “very early monetization” compared to its Facebook and Instagram advertising, according to comments heard. By Reuters.

“We talk a lot about long-term opportunities as a metaverse, but the reality is that business messaging is probably going to be the biggest pillar of our business as we work to monetize WhatsApp and Messenger,” he said.

Meta enables other buyers to talk and trade with sellers through chat apps, including a new feature announced Thursday in Brazil.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday’s internal briefing.

Zuckerberg’s comments there signaled a shift in tone and emphasis after he focused more on augmented reality hardware and software investments since he announced a long-term desire to build a more focused transition last year.

Investors questioned the wisdom of that decision as Meta’s advertising business has struggled this year, in addition to reducing its stock price.

In his remarks to employees, Zuckerberg played down how much money the company is spending on Reality Labs, the unit responsible for its troubled investments.

People were Meta’s biggest expense, followed by big spending, most of which went to infrastructure to support its social media operations, he said. About 20 percent of Meta’s budget went to Reality Labs.

Within Reality Labs, the division has been spending more than half its budget on augmented reality (AR), with smart glasses products continuing to appear “over the next few years” and “really good” AR glasses a decade later, Zuckerberg said.

“This is in some ways a very challenging job … but I also think it’s part of a job that will be very important in the long run,” he said.

About 40 percent of Reality Labs’ budget has gone into virtual reality, while about 10 percent is spent on social media for a futuristic virtual world it calls Horizon.

Chief Technology Officer Andrew Bosworth, who runs Reality Labs, said AR glasses need to be more useful than mobile phones to attract potential customers and meet a high bar for appeal.

Bosworth said he was wary of developing “industrial applications” for the devices, describing that as “niche,” and wanted to stay focused on building a wider audience.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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