Zuckerberg says WhatsApp’s business chat will drive sales sooner than Metaverse

Nov 17 (Reuters) – Meta Platforms Inc (META.O) chief executive Mark Zuckerberg told employees on Thursday that WhatsApp and Messenger would drive the company’s next wave of revenue growth as he tried to ease concerns about the to disperse Meta’s finances after the first mass layoffs.

Answering pointed questions at a company-wide meeting a week after Meta announced plans to lay off 11,000 employees, Zuckerberg described the messaging app pair as “very early in monetization” compared to its advertising juggernauts Facebook and Instagram by Reuters.

“We talk a lot about the very long-term opportunities like the Metaverse, but the reality is that business messaging will likely be the next big pillar of our business as we work to monetize WhatsApp and Messenger more,” he said.

Meta is allowing some consumers to talk and do business with merchants through the chat apps, including a new feature announced Thursday in Brazil. Continue reading

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

Zuckerberg’s comments there reflect a shift in tone and emphasis, having focused heavily on augmented reality hardware and software investments since announcing his long-term goal of building an immersive metaverse last year.

Investors have questioned the wisdom of that decision as Meta’s core advertising business has struggled this year, more than halving its share price.

In his remarks to employees, Zuckerberg downplayed how much the company spent in Reality Labs, the entity responsible for its Metaverse investments.

People are Meta’s biggest expense, followed by investments, the vast majority of which have gone into infrastructure to support its suite of social media apps, he said. About 20% of Meta’s budget went to Reality Labs.

Within Reality Labs, the unit spent over half its budget on augmented reality (AR), with smart glasses products coming out “in the next few years” and some “really awesome” AR glasses later in the decade, Zuckerberg said .

“This is in some ways the most challenging work … but I also think it’s the most potentially valuable part of the work over time,” he said.

About 40% of Reality Labs’ budget went into virtual reality, while about 10% was spent on futuristic social platforms like the virtual world called Horizon.

Chief Technology Officer Andrew Bosworth, who runs Reality Labs, said AR glasses need to be more useful than cellphones to engage potential customers and set a higher bar of attractiveness.

Bosworth said he’s wary of developing “industrial applications” for the devices, describing it as “niche” and wants to remain focused on building for a broad audience.

Reporting by Katie Paul and Paresh Dave; Edited by Peter Henderson and Kenneth Maxwell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Father Dave

Thomson Reuters

Tech reporter from the San Francisco Bay Area covering Google and the rest of Alphabet Inc. Joined Reuters in 2017 after four years at the Los Angeles Times focusing on the local technology industry.

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