Meta Platforms, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) Q4 2021 Earnings Highlights
CEO Mark Zuckerberg
“…This was a solid quarter for our products and business. It was also an important one for our company. In October, we announced that Meta would be our new name and we laid out our vision for the metaverse. And when we shared our plans to Connect, I said this is not something we’re going to do on our own. The metaverse will be built by creators and developers, it will be interoperable, and it will touch many different parts of the economy. In the months since, it’s been exciting to see lots of other companies share their own plans for the metaverse and how their experiences and products might show up too. And I look forward to partnering with a lot of them as we work to bring this to life together.
Now last year was about putting a stake in the ground for where we’re heading, and this year is going to be about executing. And today, I’m going to discuss our seven major investment priorities for 2022: and they’re Reels, community messaging, commerce, ads, privacy, AI, and of course the metaverse. And these are the areas that we’re putting a lot more talent and budget towards.
But before I get to that, I want to briefly touch on our Q4 results, which I know Sheryl and Dave are going to go deeper on. I’m proud of the work that our teams did here. We shipped products, our community continued to grow, and businesses of all sizes turned to us to help them reach people. But there are two things that I want to call out that are having an impact on our business.
The first is competition. People have a lot of choices for how they want to spend their time and apps like TikTok are growing very quickly. And this is why our focus on Reels is so important over the long-term, as is our work to make sure that our apps are the best services out there for young adults, which I spoke about on our last call.
The second area, and related to this, is that we’re in the middle of a transition on our own services towards short-form video like Reels. So as more activity shifts towards this medium, we’re replacing some time in News Feed and other higher monetizing services. So as a result of both competition and the shift to short-form video as well as our focus on serving young adults over optimizing overall engagement, we’re going to continue to see some pressure on impression growth in the near-term.
Now I’m confident that leaning harder into these trends is the right short-term tradeoff to make in order to get long-term gains. We’ve made these types of transitions before with mobile feed and Stories, where we took on headwinds in the near-term to align with important trends over the long-term.
And while video has historically been slower to monetize, we believe that over time short-form video is going to monetize more like feed or Stories than like Watch. So I’m optimistic that we’ll get to where we need to be with Reels, too.
Ultimately, our continued success relies on building new products that people find valuable and enjoy using. And in a competitive marketplace, we’re focused on understanding the areas that we need to deliver on for people and executing against this strategy. Dave is going to share more on these impacts to the business in a minute.
But before we get to that, I want to discuss our investment priorities for 2022. The first one is Reels. It’s clear that short-form video will be an increasing part of how people consume content moving forward, and Reels is now our fastest-growing content format by far. It’s already the biggest contributor to engagement growth on Instagram and it’s growing very quickly on Facebook, too.
And as we continue to improve the tools for creators, ranking for the people watching, and as we roll out the product everywhere across the world, we expect that this will continue growing quickly. So looking ahead, we’re investing in simplifying video across Instagram, building more great creative and monetization tools for creators, and helping more people discover and interact with relevant Reels.
The next investment priority is community messaging, which is about chatting with groups of people that you have something in common with, whether that’s a shared community, interest or experience. We already run some of the world’s most popular messaging platforms where people connect one on one or in groups with friends, family and colleagues. And we’re seeing people increasingly want to share more things in messages that they would’ve previously maybe posted to feed.
So I think the popularity that we’re seeing with apps like Slack in the workplace, or Discord or Telegram reflects this trend, too. So we’re going to help people on WhatsApp better organize their group chats and make it easier to find information for the communities that they’re a part of like parent groups or neighborhoods. And we’re also building Community Chats on Facebook and Messenger for real-time conversations within those groups and communities.
Now I also want to call out business messaging, since it’s an area where there’s real momentum here. We estimate that there are more than 1 billion users are connecting with a business account across our messaging services every week. And we’re partnering with companies like Uber and JioMart to help people book a ride or have their groceries delivered right from a chat. And we’re building new tools to make buying online better for people and easier to manage for businesses. And we believe that this can be an important business for us in the years to come.
We’re also making good progress on our broader commerce efforts. We already help a lot of businesses reach new and existing customers with personalized ads, and our commerce tools are an extension of that. It’s a seamless way for people and businesses to buy and sell through our apps. And our strategy here since introducing Shops a year-and-a-half ago has been to make it as easy as possible for people to make a purchase after discovering a new brand or product, without having to switch over to a browser or reenter their payment info. And Sheryl will share more about our progress here, including some of the success we saw over the holidays.
Next up is ads. With Apple’s iOS changes and new regulation in Europe, there’s a clear trend where less data is available to deliver personalized ads. But people still want to see relevant ads, and businesses still want to reach the right customers. So we’re rebuilding a lot of our ads infrastructure so we can continue to grow and deliver high-quality personalized ads. The next two investment priorities that I want to discuss focus on the infrastructure that underpins all our products.
The first is privacy. We’ve made huge investments in strengthening our approach to privacy, including rebuilding our privacy program and our privacy review process. So we made updates to bring greater privacy to our products, including end-to-end encrypted backups and disappearing messages on WhatsApp, and end-to-end encrypted voice and video calling on Messenger. Over the next few years, we’re focused on building out a major privacy infrastructure project that will encode our privacy commitments at a deeper level of our technical foundation to make them more durable and make product development faster in this evolving environment.
Now onto AI, this is one of the areas where we’ve routinely seen stronger returns on our investments over time than we’ve expected. Advances in AI enable a lot of the experiences that I’ve talked about so far, it enables us to deliver better ads to people while using less data; it’s core to our safety and security work; it’s meaningfully improved the relevance of Reels and overall content ranking in general; and it plays a big role in our commerce efforts.
Artificial intelligence is also going to play a big role in our work to help build the metaverse. We just announced our AI Research SuperCluster, which we think will be the world’s fastest supercomputer once it is complete later this year. This is going to enable new AI models that can learn from trillions of examples and understand hundreds of languages which will be key for the kinds of experiences that we’re building.
Looking ahead, we’re focused on further scaling our computing power and transforming our AI infrastructure through advances in foundational research, as well as improvements to data center design, networking, storage, and software.
Now the last investment priority here is the metaverse. We’re focused on the foundational hardware and software required to build an immersive, embodied internet that enables better digital social experiences than anything that exists today. On the hardware front, we’re seeing real traction with Quest 2. People have spent more than $1 billion on Quest store content, helping virtual reality developers grow and sustain their business. We had a strong holiday season and Oculus reached the top of the App Store for the first time on Christmas Day in the U.S. We’re working towards a release of a high-end virtual reality headset later this year and we continue to make progress developing Project Nazare, which is our first fully-augmented reality glasses. As for software, Horizon is core to our metaverse vision. This is our social VR world-building experience that we recently opened to people in the U.S. and Canada. And we’ve seen a number of talented creators build worlds like a recording studio where producers collaborate or a relaxing space to meditate. And this year, we plan to launch a version of Horizon on mobile too, that will bring early metaverse experiences to more surfaces beyond VR…”