In July, Threads launched with a surge to the top of the download charts, but there were questions about how active the app has been. Last quarter, Zuckerberg said Threads had more than 100 million monthly users; for the rest of Meta’s apps it reports daily user counts. Meta reports 3.2 billion daily active users on all its apps in its ”family of apps,” which includes Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
“Threads continues to show promise as the leading X/Twitter alternative,” said Mike Proulx, VP and research director at Forrester, the research firm. “It now has more people using it today than it did during its original launch peak. As X continues to degrade, Threads continues to benefit.”
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Zuckerberg also used Meta’s quarterly call to tout the company’s investments in AI, promising AI assistants for users, creators and businesses. “Every business will have an AI that their customers can interact with to buy goods and get support,” Zuckerberg said.
AI has become one of the most important areas of growth in technology and advertising. It’s also led to concerns about layoffs, and last year Meta reduced its workforce by thousands of people. Meanwhile, the company posted a $14 billion fourth-quarter profit, up sharply from $4.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Meta’s headcount was 67,317 as of Dec. 31, down 22% from a year earlier.
“Being a leaner company is helping us execute better and faster and we will continue to carry these values forward as a permanent part of how we operate,” Zuckerberg said on Thursday.
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Meta also announced its first quarterly dividend on Thursday, of 50 cents per share, as well as a $50 billion increase in its share buyback plans.
One downside within Meta’s report is that it continues to lose money on Reality Labs, the metaverse division that Zuckerberg developed to build next-generation technology, including virtual reality devices. Critics panned the company’s pivot to the metaverse in 2022, and last year Zuckerberg promised “efficiency.” On Thursday, Zuckerberg continued to express optimism in linking AI and the metaverse.
“While the metaverse was mentioned, it continues to take a back seat to AI, as it should,” Proulx said. “Meta expects even greater losses this year in its Reality Labs division which will only continue to raise questions as to how long the company digs its heels into an increasingly unsure bet.”
The upbeat earnings were in sharp contrast to Zuckerberg’s appearance on Wednesday at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, when he and other tech CEOs were hammered over the harms of social media, especially Instagram. At one point, Zuckerberg was prodded to address parents in the audience to offer condolences for children who died in tragedies blamed on social media.
TikTok CEO Shou Chew, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and X CEO Linda Yaccarino were also at the hearings. Yaccarino used her testimony to position X as the only app among them that did not have a heavy teenage userbase, and she supported five bills that Senators were advocating to improve online safety.