Big Five technology player Meta is still burning cash through its metaverse research and development arm Reality Labs with a $3.67 billion loss posted for the third quarter of 2022, stating those losses will further deepen next year.
The company’s Q3 2022 earnings released on Oct. 26 show the biggest-ever quarterly losses for Reality Labs from earnings dating back to the fourth quarter of 2020, the business also made $285 million in revenue for the third quarter, its lowest on record within that time.
With its Reality Labs business marking its third straight quarterly loss totaling $9.44 billion so far in 2022, Meta is shaping up to beat its 2021 losses on its metaverse play which saw just over $10 billion in losses last year.
Those year-on-year losses are set to deepen as Meta chief financial officer Dave Whener stated in the earnings:
“We do anticipate that Reality Labs operating losses in 2023 will grow significantly year-over-year. Beyond 2023, we expect to pace Reality Labs investments such that we can achieve our goal of growing overall company operating income in the long run.”
On Meta’s earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg continued to be unfazed by the company’s big investment in what he called the “next computing platform.” He said it was the firm’s top priority and told investors that building a metaverse and its related hardware is “a massive undertaking.”
“It’s often going to take a few versions of each product before they become mainstream,” he added. “I think that our work here is going to be of historical importance and create the foundation for an entirely new way that we will interact with each other and blend technology into our lives as well as the foundation for the long term of our business.”
Overall the company slightly exceeded its revenue expectations from Wall Street analysts, bringing in $27.71 billion in revenue for the quarter but bought in $1.64 earnings per share, missing its estimate of $1.88 per share.
Meta’s stock price has fallen over 19.5% in after-hours trading at the time of writing, according to Yahoo Finance, with the company’s shares down over 61.5% since the start of 2022.
Meta’s big bet on its virtual world has some investors urging the firm to scale back its investment, with Brad Gerstner, founder of technology investment firm Altimeter Capital and Meta shareholder penning an open letter to Zuckerberg and the board of directors.
Gerstner said its “investment in an unknown future is super-sized and terrifying” and that it could take a decade for its metaverse to start making a profit, he said the firm should focus on an artificial intelligence offering as it has the potential to better the company’s results.
Some are not optimistic about the future of the metaverse in the hands of Zuckerber. Meta whistleblower Frances Haugen, in April, said its virtual world will repeat “all the harms of Facebook” if the company doesn’t commit to transparency.