For the third day in a row, investors kept selling off shares of social media giant Meta Platforms (NASDAQ: META), the former Facebook. Through 1:45 p.m. ET Tuesday, the shares are now down a combined 12.5%, including today’s 4% fall.
And while Snap (NYSE: SNAP) may have sparked this sell-off last week, today, Meta’s losses are largely its own doing.
On Friday as you probably recall, Meta rival Snap announced a “snap” slowdown in its sales growth — down two-thirds sequentially to just 13% — and with no profits, either. Meta stock has been selling off in sympathy with that news ever since. And today, Meta investors got more bad news.
Specifically, as Business Insider reports, Meta appears to be bracing for an impending recession and preparing to lay off as much as 10% of its workforce to deal with it. And this report comes on the heels of a separate report, from Bloomberg last night, that even as Meta cuts costs with one hand, with the other, it may be preparing to spend money buying Canadian “eye-tracking technology” company AdHawk Microsystems Inc.
Bloomberg reports that AdHawk has developed special “glasses” that track a wearer’s eye movements to better understand their behavior, to see, for example, where on a web page a wearer looks, which could generate data on where to best place a banner ad — on a web page.
Investors may be worrying today that in addition to the business stress implied by the company’s plans to lay off so many employees, Meta may overpay for its new acquisition. On the one hand, AdHawk doesn’t look like it will be too expensive to buy. (Bloomberg says the start-up has only raised about $17 million in funding over its lifetime.) On the other hand, the news agency also points out that Meta might be bidding against as many as four other potential buyers — a factor that could inflate the price paid by the ultimate winner.
On the third hand — and this is where I think Meta investors should focus — a purchase of AdHawk would line up nicely with Meta’s shift in focus away from social media and toward a much bigger future as a player in augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR). As Bloomberg observes, Meta was already planning to incorporate eye-tracking technology into its upcoming “Meta Quest Pro” mixed-reality headset. A purchase of AdHawk — at a reasonable price — could accelerate that effort and advance Meta’s goal of becoming the dominant player in AR and VR.
In short, I see this as good news and not bad news for Meta. Seeing as Mark Zuckerberg has already decided to “bet the company” on the Metaverse as the future of the internet, this sounds like the right direction for Meta to be going.
Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Rich Smith has positions in Meta Platforms, Inc. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Meta Platforms, Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.