After losing billions of dollars on the metaverse, Mark Zuckerberg's launching a 'top-level' team at Meta to develop AI products for WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram

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After losing billions of dollars on the metaverse, Mark Zuckerberg's launching a 'top-level' team at Meta to develop AI products for WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram
After losing billions of dollars on the metaverse, Mark Zuckerberg's launching a 'top-level' team at Meta to develop AI products for WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram.SOPA Images/Getty Images
  • Meta's foraying into generative AI amid a rush into the technology following ChatGPT's popularity.
  • Mark Zuckerberg said Meta will be creating a new "top-level product group" focused on generative AI.
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After chasing the metaverse, Meta is now buying into the AI hype.

The tech giant will be creating a new "top-level product group" focused on generative AI — AI that can create content — to focus on "building delightful experiences around this technology into all of our different products," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post on Monday.

"Over the longer term, we'll focus on developing AI personas that can help people in a variety of ways," he said, adding Meta is exploring AI experiences with text in WhatsApp and Messenger, and with images in Instagram.

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Zuckerberg didn't specify in the post what top-level meant.

Meta's foray into generative AI follows a big rush into the technology after chatbot ChatGPT went viral. Big tech rivals Google, Microsoft, and Snapchat all launched their versions of AI bots.

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But Zuckerberg's push into AI comes on the heel of its foray into another product — the metaverse, a version of virtual connectivity which Zuckerberg envisions as the future of the internet. His relentless pursuit into the metaverse cost Meta $13.7 billion in 2022.

2021 versus 2023

But times are very different now compared to 2021 when the Facebook parent announced its strategic pivot to the metaverse. The entire tech sector is reeling from mass layoffs. Companies that over-hired during the e-commerce boom during the pandemic are now facing a drop-off in demand.

Meta isn't immune to these challenges either. To cut costs, Meta laid off 11,000 people in November and promised that 2023 is going to be a "year of efficiency."

Meta's Reality Labs — which is building the metaverse — would be also subject to the company's efficiency drive, Zuckerberg said on the company's fourth-quarter earnings call on February 1. Measures include flattening the organizational structure, just like in other parts of the company.

Meta's also looking to monetize more revenue streams. It launched a paid subscription program for Facebook and Instagram called Meta Verified that starts at $11.99 a month if purchased via a web browser, Zuckerberg announced last Sunday. The move — which is similar to the Twitter Blue program — could rake in $2 billion in revenue for Meta, according to Wall Street analysts.

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Meta's shares closed 0.5% higher at $169.54 on Monday and are up nearly 41% so far this year.

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