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David Pierce, writing for Protocol

Facebook is dying. The signs have been out there for a while, of course: slowing growth around the world, an increased focus on Instagram and WhatsApp and Messenger and then a hard pivot toward the metaverse, including a whole-ass name change so that Meta's potential might not be brought down by Facebook. But all we saw until now was slow growth, not decline.

Facebook users have now declined for the first time ever, Meta announced on its earnings call yesterday. The numbers are still ludicrous, obviously β€” 1.929 billion people still log on to the Facebook app every day, and Meta turned nearly $40 billion in profit last year, so don't pour one out for the blue app just yet β€” but the number is down about a half a million users from the previous three months.

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Facebook is playing with both hands tied behind its back right now. TikTok is a formidable competitor, but Facebook can't even buy a GIF company without getting antitrust scrutiny. Apple's privacy moves continue to hurt, too: β€œThe accuracy of our ads targeting decreased, which increased the cost of driving outcomes,” Sheryl Sandberg said on the earnings call, and Zuckerberg added that the company has had to rebuild β€œa lot of our ads infrastructure.” Ultimately, CFO Dave Wehner said, that could cost the company about $10 billion in lost revenue β€” which is about as much as Meta lost on all its metaverse projects last year.

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