Zuckerberg hopes new WhatsApp business chat will help Meta thrive again

Back to basics – but better. Apparently, Mark Zuckerberg, the Meta boss, is betting on WhatsApp and Messenger to drive the struggling company’s next wave of sales growth and putting expensive ambitions to build a fancy metaverse on ice.

Zuckerberg is taking steps to assuage concerns about Meta’s finances, and there really is a lot to worry about – at the beginning of November, the company announced that more than 11,000 of its employees, about 13%, are being let go.

Layoffs at Meta – which had more than 87,000 employees in September – were the largest cuts in the tech sector to date, and they were the first broad reductions in the company’s 18-year history.

Naturally, management was expected to take action. And it’s happening, although it would seem Zuckerberg has finally heard investors’ concerns that he was paying way too much attention to his beloved but often-ridiculed metaverse idea.

About 20% of Meta’s budget was going to Reality Labs, the unit responsible for its metaverse investments, such as virtual reality gadgets and the virtual world.

But the costly virtual space, Horizon Worlds, is not attracting enough users. Besides, even Meta’s employees are less than enthused about the project, which looks more like Zuckerberg’s personal idea than a cohesive plan.

To be fair, the aggressive metaverse expansion is not being shelved, but, during a company-wide meeting on Wednesday, Zuckerberg admitted that the firm had better chances to make more money by investing in the older WhatsApp and Messenger applications.

"We talk a lot about the very long-term opportunities like the metaverse, but the reality is that business messaging is probably going to be the next major pillar of our business as we work to monetize WhatsApp and Messenger more," he said, according to remarks heard by Reuters.

Meta had already enabled some consumers in several countries to speak and transact with merchants through the WhatsApp and Messenger apps. And in Brazil, it’s now possible to directly pay for services or goods right in a chat.

Paying for a cake directly from a chat in Brazil. Courtesy of Meta.

This experience of making a secure payment from a chat has also been recently launched in India, but Meta is testing it in Brazil with multiple payment partners.

“This seamless checkout experience will be a game-changer for people and businesses looking to buy and sell on WhatsApp without having to go to a website, open another app or pay in-person,” Meta said in a press release.

During a company-wide meeting, Zuckerberg described WhatsApp and Messenger as being “very early in monetizing” compared to its advertising juggernauts Facebook and Instagram.

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