“Metaverse” is one of the most confused, least understood concepts being thrown around today. So, it’s only fitting that the latest earnings report from the Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:FB) formerly known as Facebook is equally misunderstood. Let’s dig into this – and some other, very different, recent developments in the metaverse that are just as crucial.
Was This a Good Earnings Report… Or Not?
FB stock got a +17.6% bump yesterday, simply by delivering “a quarter that wasn’t as catastrophic as some analysts feared,” as MarketWatch put it.
In Wednesday evening’s Q1 report:
- Daily active users (DAUs) grew +4.4%, year-over-year. That was a breath of fresh air compared to Q4 – in which FB famously posted its first ever decline in DAUs.
- Q1 revenues rang in at $27.9 billion, up +6.6% from the year-ago quarter. This was a slight miss – analysts had been looking for $28.3 billion, as per the FactSet consensus estimate.
- However, earnings per share (EPS) of $2.72 was a nice beat of the $2.56 consensus.
Wall Street looked at all this…said “Good enough!”…and promptly bought the dip. (From $323 in February, FB is going for more like $200 today!)
But the other narrative that emerged is that Meta’s virtual-reality division, Reality Labs (formerly called Oculus), is “losing nearly $3 billion.” It is – but when you dig into the details…I’d argue that’s a good thing.
See, Reality Labs Revenue totaled $695 million. That was a +30.1% gain, year-over-year – which many companies would kill for. (In fact, the rest of FB would!) However, for an innovative tech in its early stages, it’s nothing to write home about.
Nonetheless, it’s growth…but, meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg is spending billions more on R&D and hiring for his new pet project. $2.96 billion more!
Also, it’s becoming glaringly obvious that Q4 is the money-maker quarter at Meta’s Reality Labs. It’s the holiday season, so it’s the biggest quarter for most retail-oriented businesses… But I’d also argue that it confirms what I’m seeing anecdotally:
Who’s buying what Meta is selling? Parents, surprising their kids with the latest Oculus goggles for gaming in the family basement.
And as long as VR products have such niche appeal, we’ll be held back from the true metaverse dream of an “embodied internet” for everyone. Which brings us to the next question investors should be asking:
Can VR – and AR – Reach a Broad Audience?
From this perspective, it’s probably very smart for Zuckerberg to devote finances and manpower to new Reality Labs products. Products geared to those of us OVER the age of 18!
Much was made in the financial press of Zuck’s comment that “we’re now planning to slow the pace of some of our investments.” But I’d argue that was just to appease the Wall Street types tuning in to the earnings call…
Because Zuckerberg also emphasized Project Cambria, the new VR headset he teased at his original metaverse announcement in October. And the more we learn, the more it sounds like Cambria will revolutionize the Reality Labs lineup:
“Later this year, we’ll release a higher-end headset, codenamed Project Cambria, which will be more focused on work use cases and eventually replacing your laptop or work setup,” Zuckerberg said Wednesday.
“This premium device will have improved ergonomics and full color passthrough mixed reality to seamlessly blend virtual reality with the physical world. We’re also building in eye tracking and face tracking so that your avatar can make eye contact and facial expressions.
“If you want to be able to make eye contact or have your physical facial expressions just automatically get translated to your avatar in real-time, then our hardware will provide the best metaverse experience, whether you’re playing a game or meeting with co-workers in Horizon Workrooms,” Zuckerberg concluded.
That sounds like a product much more relevant to my life. And it’s hard to miss the millennial aesthetic of the company’s new Meta Store, set to open May 9:
Of course, a lot of us millennials are parents now. But I think this Meta Store is more about getting us to buy Reality Labs products for ourselves.
Perfect example: Ray-Ban Stories. These are designer shades with a camera, microphone, and surround-sound built into them. To take a picture/video, start or stop your music, just tap the arm of the sunglasses – or use Facebook Assistant Voice Control! They cost not much more than regular Ray-Bans… And you can try these on at the new Meta Store, too:
Ray-Ban Stories were introduced in September – and I, for one, had never heard of them before this week.
That’s probably because whatever Instagram marketing campaigns these companies want to do aren’t enough.
To expand these technologies to new audiences – or at least get the word out – people have to be able to experience them. See what all the fuss is about.
I think these Meta Stores will help immensely. Where would Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) be today without its Apple Stores? Where would all the app developers be, for that matter? Before people dropped all the cash that’s made the App Store so profitable, they had to reach out and buy their first iPhone or iPad.
And that’s not the only parallel I see here. Just like Apple, I expect Meta to bring the hardware/tech advancements – and developers outside Meta to provide the hottest applications. Especially Web3 iterations of the metaverse.
Why? Because when you can freely – and profitably – trade crypto/NFTs, this gives you an economic incentive to spend time in the metaverse. Horizon Worlds may have a head start, building out a fancy metaverse… But why bother with it when Meta will take a 47% cut of everything you try to do there?
Speaking of crypto and NFTs:
Aside from Zuckerberg, with his Project Cambria and Meta Stores… Another person whose recent endeavors may help bring adults to the metaverse is – just hear me out on this – Snoop Dogg.
The House Snoop Dogg Built in the Metaverse
Like Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Travis Scott, Paris Hilton, and Deadmau5 before him… Snoop Dogg has a concert planned in the metaverse.
Specifically, this concert will happen in The Sandbox (SAND-USD) – one of our top NFT metaverses here at InvestorPlace. When our crypto analysts added SAND to our Ultimate Crypto portfolio last April, SAND was at $0.75. Now, even after the long, cold “crypto winter,” SAND is at $2.40. After Ultimate Crypto locked in partial profits in November, the remaining position is returning +220% within a year!
Snoop has made some serious coin (so to speak) from SAND, too…judging by his latest music video, “House I Built,” which was filmed in The Sandbox. The whole thing seems designed to promote the Sandbox concert and give you a taste of the vibe you’ll experience there.
In fact, Snoop’s been cashing in on NFTs for a while. Most recently, Snoop made $300,000 selling his latest album as NFTs on Sound.xyz – in one day. (That day was, naturally, 4/20!) In February, he even bought his iconic record label, Death Row Records – pulling its catalog off streaming services to turn it into “an NFT label.” So, I’d say Snoop is just getting started in the metaverse.
Even if you’re not a Snoop Dogg fan… You may find that NFTs become the best way to support your favorite artists – who are finding great success following Snoop’s lead:
“In the 10 years I’ve been making music… six albums, and you [combine] all those advances, what I did in one drop last year in NFTs, I made more money,” revealed DJ Steve Aoki at an event for Gala Music, which is owned by Gala Games (GALA-USD), and the same platform Death Row Records will use.
And as I’ve written before with Sound.xyz: Events – like listening parties (as well as metaverse concerts) – are the best way to support artists. Just like they are in real life. But on the blockchain, your money goes straight to them…not the record companies or Ticketmasters.
They’re also fun. And tech has to be fun before most people will bother adopting it. So – just like Ray-Ban Stories look more fun than Google Glass – I view this as a step in the right direction towards the New Digital World.
On the date of publication, Ashley Cassell did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines. To have more news from The New Digital World sent to your inbox, click here to sign up for the newsletter.