Nov 17 (Reuters) – Meta Platforms Inc (META.O) chief executive Mark Zuckerberg told employees Thursday that WhatsApp and Messenger will drive the company’s next wave of sales growth as he tried to allay concerns on Meta’s finances after its first mass layoffs.
Zuckerberg, answering pointed 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 in monetization” compared to its advertising behemoths Facebook and Instagram, according to the remarks heard by Reuters.
“We talk a lot about very long-term opportunities like the metaverse, but the reality is that enterprise messaging will likely be the next major pillar of our business as we work to monetize WhatsApp and Messenger more,” he said.
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The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday’s internal forum.
Zuckerberg’s comments reflect a shift in tone and emphasis after he’s focused heavily on extended reality hardware and software investments since announcing long-term ambitions to build an immersive metaverse last year.
Investors 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 was spending on Reality Labs, the unit responsible for its investments in the metaverse.
People were Meta’s largest spend, followed by capital expenditures, the majority of which went to infrastructure to support its suite of social media apps, it said. About 20% of Meta’s budget went to Reality Labs.
Inside Reality Labs, the unit was spending over half of its budget on augmented reality (AR), with smart glasses products continuing to emerge “over the next few years” and some “really cool” AR glasses later in the year. 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 VR, while about 10% was spent on futuristic social platforms like the 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 satisfy a higher level of attractiveness.
Bosworth said he was cautious about developing “industrial applications” for the devices, describing it as “niche” and that he wanted to stay focused on building for a broad audience.
Reporting by Katie Paul and Paresh Dave; Editing by Peter Henderson and Kenneth Maxwell
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