Meta Platforms Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said the social media giant is not moving away from its metaverse focus despite reporting repeated losses in the billions of dollars at its division dedicated to developing the virtual-reality online world. 

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Fast facts

  • Building the metaverse is a long-term project and “the rationale for it remains the same and we remain committed to it,” Zuckerberg said on Wednesday in an earnings call following Meta’s release of its first-quarter earnings report.
  • “A narrative has developed that we’re somehow moving away from focusing on the metaverse vision, so I just want to say upfront that that’s not accurate,” Zuckerberg said. “We’ve been focusing on both AI and the metaverse for years now, and we will continue to focus on both.”
  • Meta’s Reality Labs, a division dedicated to virtual reality and metaverse development, recorded a US$3.99 billion operating loss in the first quarter of this year, expanding from a US$2.96 billion loss in the same period last year. For the full year of 2022, Reality Labs booked an operating loss of US$13.72 billion, according to its annual report.
  • “We continue to expect Reality Labs operating losses to increase year-over-year in 2023,” Meta said in the earnings report.
  • Meta’s shares jumped in after-hours trading on Wednesday after it reported revenue in the first quarter beat expectations, costs fell, and it raised its forecast for the current quarter.
  • Meta in February created a new team for generative artificial intelligence (AI). Zuckerberg said on the Wednesday call that its AI work comes in two main areas – massive recommendations and rankings for social feeds and ads, and new generative foundation models to “enable a lot of new use cases including generative AI.”
  • In March, Stephane Kasriel, head of commerce and financial technologies of Meta, tweeted that the company will wind down its non-fungible token operations on Facebook and Instagram.

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