Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has staked his company’s future on an immersive online world known as the Metaverse. On Wednesday, the company showed that it is still navigating this transformation.
Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, reported first-quarter profit of $7.5 billion, down 21% from a year earlier. Revenue rose 7% to $27.9 billion. Wall Street analysts had predicted profits of $7.1 billion on revenue of $28.2 billion.
The results followed Meta’s dismal financial report in February, when the company also saw declining profits and slowing user growth. The next day, Meta’s stock fell 26% and its market value plunged more than $230 billion in the company’s biggest one-day wipeout.
The two quarters were the company’s first consecutive declines in earnings in more than a decade, a sign of the difficulties it is facing as it changes course. While Meta spends a lot on Metaverse-related products like VR goggles, it remains far from certain that people want to buy such gadgets. At the same time, the company’s major social media apps, including Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, are facing challenges. New user growth has slowed and competition from rivals like TikTok, the Chinese video site, is intensifying.
In a statement Wednesday, Zuckerberg said he was sticking to the Metaverse plan. “We remain confident in the opportunities and long-term growth that our product roadmap will unlock,” he said.
Meta’s core business of digital advertising was also affected by Apple’s decision to allow iPhone users to opt out of apps that track their online activities. This change affected Meta’s ability to target ads to iPhones. Google also considered introducing similar privacy changes to its mobile products, which could further affect Meta’s advertising business.
In March, Russia banned Facebook and Instagram after its invasion of Ukraine, resulting in the loss of tens of millions of users, analysts said. Earlier, Facebook said it would start labeling Russian state-backed media and easing hate speech policies for Ukrainian users.
“Meta faces Category 5 hurricanes, from engagement to advertising to growth,” said Dan Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities. “It feels like the company still hasn’t figured out all the changes with the iPhone or with the loss of users.”