During an earnings call for Meta’s first quarter, CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressed his excitement for the introduction of AI agents to billions of users in meaningful and useful ways. While he didn’t go into specifics on how this will be implemented across Meta’s apps, Zuckerberg gave a preview of what’s to come. Meta will explore chat experiences in WhatsApp and Messenger, visual creation tools for Facebook and Instagram, and video and multi-modal experiences over time. These tools will be valuable for everyone, from regular users to creators to businesses. The potential for AI agents in business messaging and customer support is particularly interesting to Zuckerberg, and Meta’s work on the metaverse will also involve creating avatars, objects, worlds, and code to bring them all together. Despite a 24% decrease in profit from the same time last year, Meta reported a record 2 billion daily users of the Facebook app and $28.6 billion in revenue, surpassing Wall Street’s estimates.
Initially, Meta was slow to build the necessary infrastructure to support generative AI features due to the distraction of its rebranding and Zuckerberg’s focus on the metaverse. However, the company has recently spent billions of dollars on overhauling its data centers, and Zuckerberg announced during an earnings call that Meta is no longer behind in building its AI infrastructure. He teased the release of generative AI products in the coming months and emphasized that it will be a major part of all Meta products.
Generative AI has become the tech trend of the moment, with OpenAI’s ChatGPT experiencing unprecedented success. As a result, Google, Meta, and smaller players like Snap are now racing to develop competing applications. While Meta has released an AI language model called LLaMA to researchers, it has not yet introduced anything comparable to ChatGPT in a way that is widely accessible. However, according to Zuckerberg, this will soon change. He stated that generative AI will touch every Meta product and gave a hint at how it could speed up WhatsApp’s nascent customer support business. By allowing tens of millions of AI agents to act on businesses’ behalf, more companies will be able to afford to have people engaging in chat.
Despite pivoting to AI like many other companies in the industry, Meta is not abandoning its focus on the metaverse, according to Zuckerberg. He stated that the narrative suggesting Meta is moving away from the metaverse is inaccurate, pointing to the upcoming debut of the next Quest VR headset later this year. However, Meta’s Reality Labs division did report a net loss of $4 billion in the last quarter, and the company anticipates that operating losses will increase year over year in 2023.