Mark Zuckerberg Defends Push Toward Metaverse At DealBook Summit

Mark Zuckerberg wants people to know that his company is still focused on social media. He made those remarks moments after appearing in a hiccup-interrupted recorded exchange with Andrew Ross Sorkin, founder of DealBook, that took place in the metaverse.

Speaking via videoconference at the 2022 DealBook Summit in New York, the embattled chief executive of Meta tried to allay fears that he and his company were not focusing enough on their core business as they work to build the metaverse. Those fears have led to a 64 percent decline in the company’s share price over the last 12 months, and thousands of layoffs.

“The vast majority of my time and the vast majority of the company’s effort is going toward social media efforts,” he said, trying to dispel what he says is the “perception” that the company is solely focused on the metaverse, or the immersive digital world of virtual and augmented reality.

Over the last two years, Mr. Zuckerberg’s company has plunged billions of dollars into its Reality Labs division, which is responsible for those V.R. and A.R. efforts, and changed its name from Facebook to Meta. Still, he said, that spending on Reality Labs represents only 20 percent of the company’s investment portfolio. As he did when he addressed staff about companywide layoffs earlier this month, Mr. Zuckerberg admitted that he missed the shifting downturns in the economy, and that his big investments on the metaverse are now being followed by the tough decision to downsize. “I made this mistake,” he said.

But, he said of those doubting the metaverse push, “if you’re getting skepticism, you’re pushing hard enough.” Mr. Zuckerberg said the company has been doubted in the past over its ability to pivot to mobile devices or deal with “content issues,” though he did not elaborate.

The Meta chief also opined on the changes Apple had made to online advertising that had hit his company particularly hard. He also waded into the debate about the company’s App Store, and noted that he thought it was “problematic” for one company to have complete control over what apps get on people’s devices.

In a rare mention, Mr. Zuckerberg discussed China and noted it was not clear how turmoil there could affect its advertising from the country. China does not allow Meta’s services like Facebook and Instagram to be used in the country, though companies there can buy advertising on its platforms to hawk product and services in other global markets.