Zuckerberg says WhatsApp 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 sought to ease concerns about Meta’s finances after its first mass layoffs. .

Zuckerberg, who dealt with sharp questions at a company-wide meeting a week after Meta said it would lay off 11,000 employees, described the messaging app pair as “very early to monetize” compared to its advertising behemoths Facebook and Instagram, according to hearsay notes. according to Reuters.

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

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Meta allows some consumers to talk and transact with merchants through chat apps, including a new feature announced Thursday in Brazil. Read more

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment at an internal forum Thursday.

Zuckerberg’s comments reflect a shift in tone and emphasis after he focused heavily on investing in augmented reality hardware and software since announcing a long-term ambition to build immersive meta-versions last year.

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

In his remarks to employees, Zuckerberg downplayed how much the company was spending on Reality Labs, the unit responsible for its metaverse investment.

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Meta’s biggest expense was people, followed by capital spending, the vast majority of which went to infrastructure to support the social media suite of apps, he said. About 20% of Meta’s budget went to Reality Labs.

Within Reality Labs, the unit was spending more than half of its budget on augmented reality (AR), with smart glasses products coming “over the next few years” and some “really cool” AR glasses later this decade, Zuckerberg said.

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

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

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Chief Technology Officer Andrew Bosworth, who heads Reality Labs, said AR glasses need to be more useful than mobile phones to reach potential customers and meet a higher bar of attractiveness.

Bosworth said he was cautious about developing “industrial applications” for the devices, describing it as “special” and wanted to remain focused on creating for a general audience.

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

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Paresh Dave

Thomson Reuters

San Francisco Bay Area tech reporter 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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