Apr 29, 2021 - Technology

Facebook touts big business bets with 2020 in rearview

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook's earnings call Wednesday was a huge departure from its pitch to investors over the past year. Instead of reiterating its progress in trust and safety, the tech giant touted investments in innovation and new technology.

Why it matters: A slew of public relations crises over the past year had clouded Facebook's ability to position itself to stakeholders as a tech innovator.

Details: Speaking to Wall Street analysts, CEO Mark Zuckerberg briefly addressed the ongoing COVID crisis in India and Brazil before quickly pivoting the three main focus areas: Immersive technologies (AR/VR), commerce and creators.

  • Immersive technologies (AR/VR): Zuckerberg said its Oculus Quest 2 headset "is doing better than we expected." CFO Dave Wehner said Facebook Reality Labs has been one of the company's biggest investments.
  • Commerce: Zuckerberg unveiled new numbers for the company's efforts in commerce. More than 1 billion people visit Facebook's Marketplace tab each month. There are more than 1 million monthly active shops on the platform and over 250 million monthly active visitors to shops.
  • Creators: A new focus on helping creators make money will help the company drive engagement, and thus ad revenue, Zuckerberg said. Earlier this week, Facebook unveiled new monetization tools for creators to make money off of e-commerce.

The big picture: Facebook's business continues to boom. The company's stock spiked more than 6% in after-hours trading Wednesday after it reported strong Q1 revenue results.

  • The company attributed its success to growth in its advertising business. Facebook said it saw a 30% year-over-year increase in the average price per ad last quarter, as well as a 12% increase in the number of ads delivered.

The bottom line: Issues like COVID and election misinformation, hate speech boycotts, the permanent suspension of Donald Trump, and anti-trust, have been major distractions for the company over the past year.

  • Now that the election is over and the worst of COVID has passed in the U.S., the company can focus on addressing innovation over regulation.
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