Facebook’s Monopoly Is Imploding Before Our Eyes

Facebook’s Monopoly Is Imploding Before Our Eyes

Competition, miscalculations, and regulatory scrutiny have all but killed the advertising giant’s dreams of diversifying its business and rolling up the digital world into its platform.

For years, the definition of success for many tech employees has been getting a job at a FAANG company (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google). Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google, meanwhile, are often the five major companies people think of when they think of “big tech.”

But there is evidence that Facebook—once a dominant monopoly rightly blamed for all sorts of societal ills—is on the precipice of dropping out of this group through years of sheer mismanagement, a failure to innovate, setting money on fire in pursuit of a metaverse that seemingly no one wants, a vulnerable business model that Apple is squarely taking aim at, and upstart competitors like TikTok that the company seemingly has no answer for. What seemed impossible just a year or two ago—that Facebook will become just another tech company, more or less—now seems like a very real possibility.

In a little over one year, the company has shed nearly $800 billion of its market capitalization, with the lion’s share of that coming these past eight months. To be clear, the company is one of the biggest tech firms in existence, with billions of people regularly using its products and a still growing user base, and yet, by the definition of one proposed antitrust bill, has sat below the market capitalization of what counts as “Big Tech” for months.

The company’s pivot to the metaverse, complete with a name change (Meta Platforms Inc.) and a soulless PR campaign featuring chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s sickly digital avatar, has resulted in it hemorrhaging money, while its core products—Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp—all seem to have very real vulnerabilities. Reality Labs, Facebook’s metaverse fantasy team, burned through $4.5 billion in 2019, $6.62 billion in 2020, and $10.19 billion in 2021 (that’s over $21 billion).

In a February 2022 earnings call, chief financial officer David Wehner said those operating losses would “increase meaningfully” this year. And they have. Another $9.4 billion in losses have been realized in just the last three quarters, bringing Reality Labs’ operating losses to north of $31 billion. On this week’s third quarter earnings call, Wehner warned that they “anticipate that Reality Labs operating losses will grow significantly year-over year.” Meta’s stock has fallen about 70 percent this year.

By all indicators, the metaverse is a wasteland devoid of any souls save those who are too zealous or too well compensated to realize admit how stupid it is.

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Header featured image (edited) credit: Zuckerberg/CHIP SOMODEVILLA / STAFF VIA GETTY

Emphasis added by (TLB) editors



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