Facebook lost daily users for the first time in its 18-year-history last quarter, the newly rebranded company reported Wednesday. Meta, Facebook's parent company, also surprised investors with a larger-than-expected decline in profits and middling revenue forecasts, sending its stock price plummeting more than 20 percent in after-hours trading. The drop in stock price at least temporarily erased nearly $200 million in Meta's market value — "a figure greater than the size of the entire Greek economy," The Associated Press notes.
The decline in Facebook's daily users was fairly modest — fewer than a million people worldwide — and the number of people logging into Facebook each month actually grew a bit, as did daily use of all Meta apps combined, including Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger.
But Facebook's endless growth had been fueled by "adding users all over the world" as it stagnated in the lucrative U.S., Canada, and Europe markets, The Washington Post reports, and these new numbers "suggest that Facebook is becoming saturated globally as well — a potentially worrisome trend and one that demonstrates another reason the company is pushing so forcefully into new arenas such as hardware" and the metaverse.
Meta for the first time broke out the numbers for its Reality Labs, the division that makes the Oculus virtual reality headsets, showing a $3.3 billion loss despite $877 million in revenue. That's just a fraction of Meta's $33.67 billion in revenue last quarter, but the company also said its main source of income, targeted advertising, was crimped by Apple's decision to block Facebook and other apps from tracking iPhone users without their explicit permission.
The combination of growing spending in its long-term metaverse initiatives and declining profits did not sit well with investors. "I'm going to spend a lot of time creating this new thing and I'm getting less revenue: It's not a match made in heaven," said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital.