Mark Zuckerberg says WhatsApp business chat will drive sales sooner than metaverse

Meta Platforms Inc CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees on Thursday that WhatsApp and Messenger would drive the company’s next wave of sales growth, as he sought to assuage concerns about Meta’s finances following the company’s first round of layoffs.

According to Reuters, Zuckerberg, responding to pointed questions at a company-wide meeting a week after Meta announced it would lay off 11,000 workers, described the pair of messaging apps as “very early in monetizing” in comparison to its advertising juggernauts Facebook and Instagram.

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

Some consumers can communicate and transact with merchants via chat apps, thanks to a new feature announced Thursday in Brazil.

On Thursday’s internal forum, the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After announcing a long-term goal of creating an immersive metaverse last year, Zuckerberg’s comments there reflect a shift in tone and emphasis.

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

In his remarks to employees, Zuckerberg downplayed the amount of money the company was investing in Reality Labs, the unit in charge of its metaverse investments.

According to him, people were Meta’s most expensive expense, followed by capital expenditure, the vast majority of which went to infrastructure to support its suite of social media apps. Reality Labs received about 20% of Meta’s budget.

Reality Labs was spending more than half of its budget on augmented reality (AR), with smart glasses products expected to emerge “over the next few years” and some “truly great” AR glasses later in the decade, according to Zuckerberg.

“In some ways, this is the most difficult work… but I also believe it is the most valuable potential part of the work over time,” he said.

Reality Labs spent roughly 40% of its budget on virtual reality, while the remaining 10% was spent on futuristic social platforms such as Horizon, a virtual world.

Reality Labs’ Chief Technology Officer Andrew Bosworth stated that AR glasses must be more useful than mobile phones in order to appeal to potential customers and meet a higher bar for attractiveness.

Bosworth stated that he was hesitant to develop “industrial applications” for the devices, describing them as “niche,” and that he preferred to focus on building for a broad audience.

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