Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, didn’t have a great third quarter. Per CNBC, Meta posted a revenue decline for the second straight quarter, while its Reality Labs division, which includes its headsets and metaverse product, has lost $9 billion over the last three quarters. Revenue was ahead of analyst expectations, although earnings per share were below.
“Our community continues to grow and I’m pleased with the strong engagement we’re seeing driven by progress on our discovery engine and products like Reels,” Mark Zuckerberg, Meta founder and CEO, said in the earnings release. “While we face near-term challenges on revenue, the fundamentals are there for a return to stronger revenue growth. We’re approaching 2023 with a focus on prioritization and efficiency that will help us navigate the current environment and emerge an even stronger company.”
The company also addressed the Reality Labs division and its financial health.
“We do anticipate that Reality Labs operating losses in 2023 will grow significantly year-over-year. Beyond 2023, we expect to pace Reality Labs investments such that we can achieve our goal of growing overall company operating income in the long run,” Meta said in the release.
A Wall Street Journal report earlier this month indicated that very few people are using Horizon Worlds, the company’s current primary metaverse product. The Journal described an online ecosystem plagued by “glitchy technology, uninterested users and a lack of clarity about what it will take to succeed.”
Horizon Worlds had 200,000 monthly active users at the time of the Journal’s report, which is far short of the 500,000 it had set as a goal by the end of 2022. That goal has since been adjusted downward. Many of the “worlds” within it, the report said, are rarely visited.
“There are rarely any girls in the Hot Girl Summer Rooftop Pool Party, and in Murder Village there is often no one to kill.”
In more bad news for Meta, the company was assessed a $24.6 million penalty this week, in relation to a campaign finance transparency lawsuit by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. A judge found that the company violated state law 822 times.
“I have one word for Facebook’s conduct in this case—arrogance,” Ferguson said in a statement, calling the company by its former name. “It intentionally disregarded Washington’s election transparency laws. But that wasn’t enough. Facebook argued in court that those laws should be declared unconstitutional. That’s breathtaking. Where’s the corporate responsibility? I urge Facebook to come to its senses, accept responsibility, apologize for its conduct, and comply with the law. If Facebook refuses to do this, we will beat them again in court.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.