Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, has placed the future of his company in a rich online world known as the metaverse. On Wednesday, the company showed it was still navigating that transition.
Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, reported a profit of $7.5 billion in the first quarter, down 21% from a year earlier. Revenue rose 7% to $27.9 billion. Wall Street analysts had predicted a profit of $7.1 billion on revenue of $28.2 billion.
The results follow Meta’s dismal financial report for February, when the company also reported falling profits and slowing user growth. The next day, Meta’s stock plummeted 26% and its market value fell by more than $230 billion in the company’s largest-ever single-day write-off.
The two quarters were the company’s first consecutive decline in profits in more than a decade, an indication of the difficulties the company is having in changing direction. Although Meta is spending heavily on metaverse-related products such as virtual reality glasses, whether people will want to buy such devices remains uncertain. At the same time, the company’s core social networking apps – including Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger – face challenges. New user growth has slowed, and competition from rivals like TikTok, the Chinese-owned video site, is increasing.
In a statement Wednesday, Zuckerberg said he is pursuing the metaverse plan. “We remain confident in the long-term growth and opportunities our product road map will open up,” he said.
Meta’s main digital advertising business was also affected by Apple’s decision to allow iPhone users to opt out of apps that track their online activity. That change affected Meta’s ability to target ads to people on iPhone. Google has also discussed introducing similar privacy changes to its mobile products, which could further impact Meta’s advertising business.
In March, Russia banned Facebook and Instagram following its invasion of Ukraine, resulting in the loss of tens of millions of users, analysts said. Earlier, Facebook announced that it would start labeling Russian state-backed media outlets and relax its hate speech policies towards Ukrainian users.
“Meta is facing Category 5 storms, from engagement to advertising to growth,” said Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. “There is a feeling that the company is not ready for all the changes with the iPhone or with the loss of users.”