Since its launch 18 years ago, Facebook has known only steady growth. What began as a project for the Harvard University community, became one of the largest and most prolific companies in the world. The now-named Meta has become a benchmark in the industry, although it may have finished the shining part of its history and the numbers reflect this for the first time in its entire life.
During the fourth quarter of 2021, Facebook saw an unusual movement in its numbers: it lost daily active users. An unprecedented event in the history of the social network. In the last three months of 2021, Facebook saw a slight, but steady drop in its global daily user community. The number dropped from 1.93 billion, to 1.929 billion.
This drop represented an instant loss of $200 billion in Facebook’s stock market value. In addition, the platform lost an estimated 1 million daily users in North America alone; a region where the company has made its biggest gains through advertising. Of course, this drop translates into a worldwide decrease in users.
Likewise, in previous quarters Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp services have seen zero growth in their user base. This, in addition to being a reflection of the company’s lack of relevance within the youth market, also demonstrates something darker; and that is that a rebranding is not enough to remove the stains on Facebook’s past.
Despite this downturn, Facebook and Meta are still very profitable. In fact, the latter has made an estimated $40 billion in profits in the past year alone; a figure too large for any of us to properly comprehend.
However, it seems that Meta is spending billions in its mission to build its Metaverse; in this way, it seeks to establish virtual reality and augmented reality as the next standard in the technological world.
Reality Labs, the division responsible for Quest VR, has reported a loss of $10.2 billion in 2021. Likewise, revenues barely reached $2.3 billion.
Mark Zuckerberg has assured that the next generation of its virtual reality headsets will arrive later this 2022; and will be at “the upper end of the price spectrum”. Meta’s CEO is currently focused on building his virtual empire; however, he will have to pay attention to social media, which is what makes it possible to allocate so many resources to the Metaverse mission.