Facebook is still growing amid Meta’s ‘year of efficiency’

Mark Zuckerberg’s “year of efficiency” doesn’t seem to be affecting Facebook’s growth. Meta’s social network added 37 million users during the first quarter of the year, bringing total daily users up to 2.037 billion. Meanwhile, the number of daily users across the company’s “family of apps” rose to over 3 billion users for the first time in company history.

The company reported the growth in its first-quarter earnings report for 2023, the first since Zuckerberg announced the company was focusing on “efficiency” amid an economic downturn that has led the company to shed thousands of jobs. That shift seems to be showing some signs of success, as Meta reported $28.6 billion in revenue for the quarter, up 3 percent from last year and the first revenue growth in nearly a year for Meta.

Despite the boost, though, Zuckerberg confirmed that more layoffs are still scheduled to take place next month. “Even as our financial position improves, I continue to believe that slowing hiring, flattening our management structure, increasing the percent of our company that is technical and more rigorously prioritizing projects will improve the speed and quality of our work,” he said during a call with analysts.

Reality Labs also continues to take major losses, losing just under $4 billion for the quarter. That’s a bit less than the $4.3 billion the company lost last quarter, but Meta has said it expects 2023 losses for its metaverse division to top the $14.3 billion it lost last year.

During the call, Zuckerberg said the company is still prioritizing its massive investment in the metaverse, even as it increasingly turns its attention to generative AI. “A narrative has developed that we’re moving away from focusing on the metaverse vision,” Zuckerberg said. “So I just want to say upfront that that’s not accurate. We’ve been focusing on both AI and the metaverse for years now, and we will continue to focus on both.” He added that the company was preparing to launch its “next-generation consumer virtual and mixed reality device” later in the year.

Meta’s CEO also talked more about his plan to create “AI agents” and other generative AI tools for the company’s apps. “I think that there’s an opportunity to introduce AI agents to billions of people in ways that will be useful and meaningful. We’re exploring chat experiences in WhatsApp and messenger, visual creation tools for posts on Facebook and Instagram and ads, and, over time, video and multimodal experiences as well.”