Meta Platforms Inc chief executive Mark Zuckerberg told employees on Thursday that WhatsApp and Messenger will drive the company’s next wave of sales growth as he seeks to ease concerns about Meta’s finances after its first layoffs massive.
Zuckerberg, answering pointed questions at a company-wide meeting a week after Meta announced it would be laying off 11,000 workers, described the pair of messaging apps as “very early in monetization” compared to its advertising behemoths Facebook and Instagram.
“We talk a lot about 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 further,” he said.
Meta allows select consumers to talk and transact with merchants 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 forum.
Zuckerberg’s comments reflect a change in tone and emphasis after focusing heavily on extended reality hardware and software investments since announcing a long-term ambition to create an immersive metaverse last year.
Investors questioned the wisdom of the move as Meta’s core advertising business had struggled this year, slashing its stock price by more than half.
In his remarks to employees, Zuckerberg downplayed the company’s spending on Reality Labs, the unit responsible for its investments in the metaverse.
People were Meta’s biggest expense, followed by capital spending, the vast majority of which went to 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 was spending more than half of its budget on augmented reality (AR), with smart glasses products continuing to emerge “over the next few years” and “really awesome” AR glasses later in the decade, Zuckerberg said.
“It’s in some ways the hardest job…but I also think it’s the potentially most valuable part of the job over time,” he said.
About 40% of Reality Labs’ budget went to virtual reality, while about 10% was spent on futuristic social platforms such as the virtual world it calls Horizon.
CTO Andrew Bosworth, who runs Reality Labs, said AR glasses need to be more useful than cellphones in attracting potential customers and hitting a higher attractiveness bar.
Bosworth said he was worried about developing “industrial applications” for the devices, describing that as a “niche”, and wanted to stay focused on building for a wide audience.