Meta returns to increasing sales as it hails AI progress

Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, outlined its recovery last night as CEO Mark Zuckerberg hailed “an opportunity to introduce AI agents to billions of people”.

The tech giant exceeded Wall Street expectations for its first quarter, stoking up predictions for the Q2 and sending its share price up by 12.1% to $234.85.

Total revenue climbed by 3% to $28.6 billion in the three months to 31 March.

Net profits dropped 24% to $5.7 billion, beating analysts’ forecasts of about $5.3 billion.

“We had a good quarter and our community continues to grow,” Zuckerberg said.

Meta expects to deliver total revenue of between $29.5 billion and $32 billion in the second quarter, growth of at least 2.4%.

It incurred pre-tax restructuring charges of $621 million in the first quarter.

Although secretive about the details, Zuckerberg provided investors with the most comprehensive overview of its AI vision to date.

“We’re exploring chat experiences in WhatsApp and Messenger, visual creation tools for posts in Facebook and Instagram and ads, and over time video and multi-modal experiences as well,” Zuckerberg said.

“I expect that these tools will be valuable for everyone from regular people to creators to businesses. For example, I expect that a lot of interest in AI agents for business messaging and customer support will come once we nail that experience.

“Over time, this will extend to our work on the metaverse, too, where people will much more easily be able to create avatars, objects, worlds, and code to tie all of them together.”

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Zuckerberg said that Meta is “no longer behind in building [its] AI infrastructure” and teased the upcoming release of generative AI products.

The social media business suffered a difficult year in 2022, mainly due to digital advertisers cutting back on ad spend online.

This prompted Meta to declare 2023 to be its “year of efficiency”, announcing a second wave of layoffs in March. Approximately 10,000 workers are set to leave the business, only months after the firm slashed 11,000 jobs.

The share price dropped significantly last year, amid a backdrop of fears over the global economy, the slowdown in digital advertising space and a loss of interest in both consumers and investors in the metaverse.

At the same time, the firm lagged behind in terms of digital infrastructure required to support its AI-driven vision, forcing it to pour billions into rehauling its data centers.

Meta’s shares have rebounded strongly since the start of the year and its advertising sales climbed by 4% in Q1.



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