Posts tagged with "Meta"

Yahoo takes minority stake in digital ad network Taboola

November 29, 2022

Yahoo is deepening its push into digital advertising, even as its competitors warn that the market is faltering, reports The New York Times.

The Internet pioneer, which was taken private in a $5 billion deal last year, is taking a roughly 25% stake in Taboola, the company known for serving up attention-grabbing links on websites, the chief executives of the companies said in an interview.

The deal is part of a 30-year exclusive advertising partnership that allows Yahoo to use Taboola’s technology to manage its sizable business in native advertising—ads that have the characteristics of traditional news and entertainment content.

Shares of Taboola have fallen nearly 80% over the past year, amid broader doldrums in the public and advertising markets—giving it a market capitalization of $455 million. Last January, when Taboola struck a deal to merge with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, it was valued at $2.6 billion.

Executives at companies like Meta and TikTok have warned that advertisers skittish about the economy have pulled back on their spending. But Jim Lanzone, the chief executive of Yahoo, said in an interview that the deal with Taboola puts both companies in a good position for when the ad market revives.

“I’m thinking, you know, five, ten, 30 years,” Lanzone said. “Digital advertising has huge wind at its back over the long term.” He added that while the company will continue to try to bring in money in other ways, such as expanding its subscription business or investing in e-commerce, “we have hundreds of millions of people consuming news and sports and finance on market-leading properties that are heavily monetized through advertising — and will continue to be.”

Yahoo, a giant of the early internet, was eclipsed over the years by tech rivals like Alphabet’s Google and Meta’s Facebook. The company endured a messy power struggle and shaky leadership as it matured, leading to layoffs and shifts in strategy.

The company was taken private by the investment firm Apollo Global Management in the hopes that new leadership and a respite from the public markets would give it a chance to grow. Yahoo says it has about 900 million monthly users of its properties, which include AOL, TechCrunch, and Yahoo Sports, making it one of the largest destinations on the web.

oola, founded in 2007, specializes in native advertising, operating a sprawling advertising network over thousands of well-known websites, including CNBC, NBC News, and Insider.

The deal with Yahoo gives Taboola the exclusive license to sell native ads across Yahoo’s sites, and the companies will share revenue from those ad sales. The companies did not disclose the terms of the revenue split.

Yahoo, which will become Taboola’s largest shareholder, also will get a seat on the company’s board.

Research contact: @nytimes

Facebook parent Meta will notify employees of large-scale layoffs, starting this week

November 9, 2022

Meta Platforms is planning to begin large-scale layoffs this week, according to people familiar with the matter, in what could be the largest round in a recent spate of tech job cuts after the industry’s rapid growth during the pandemic, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The layoffs are expected to affect many thousands of employees and an announcement is planned to come as soon as Wednesday, November 9. Meta reported more than 87,000 employees at the end of September. Company officials already told employees to cancel nonessential travel beginning this week, insiders said.

The planned layoffs would be the first broad head-count reductions to occur in the company’s 18-year history. While smaller on a percentage basis than the cuts at Twitter this past week—which hit about half of that company’s staff—the number of Meta employees expected to lose their jobs could be the largest to date at a major technology corporation in a year that has seen a tech-industry retrenchment.

A spokesman for Meta declined to comment, referring to CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent statement that the company would “focus our investments on a small number of high-priority growth areas.

“So that means some teams will grow meaningfully, but most other teams will stay flat or shrink over the next year,” he said on the company’s third-quarter earnings call on October. 26. “In aggregate, we expect to end 2023 as either roughly the same size, or even a slightly smaller organization than we are today.”

The Wall Street Journal reported in September that Meta was planning to cut expenses by at least 10% in the coming months, in part through staff reductions.

The cuts expected to be announced this week follow several months of more targeted staffing reductions in which employees were managed out or saw their roles eliminated.

“Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here,” Zuckerberg told employees at a companywide meeting at the end of June. 

Meta, like other tech giants, went on a hiring spree during the pandemic as life and business shifted more online. It added more than 27,000 employees in 2020 and 2021 combined; and added a further 15,344 in the first nine months of this year—about one-fourth of that during the most recent quarter.

Meta’s stock has fallen more than 70% this year. The company has highlighted deteriorating macroeconomic trends, but investors also have been spooked by its spending and threats to the company’s core social-media business. Growth for that business in many markets has stalled amid stiff competition from TikTok; and Apple’s requirement that users opt in to the tracking of their devices has curtailed the ability of social-media platforms to target ads.

Last month, investment firm Altimeter Capital said in an open letter to Zuckerberg that Meta should slash staff and pare back its metaverse ambitions, reflecting the rising discontent among shareholders.

Much of Meta’s ballooning costs stem from Zuckerberg’s commitment to Reality Labs; a division of the company responsible for virtual- and augmented-reality headsets, as well as the creation of the metaverse. Zuckerberg has billed the metaverse as a constellation of interlocking virtual worlds in which people will eventually work, play, live, and shop.

The effort has cost the company $15 billion since the beginning of last year. But despite investing heavily in promoting its virtual-reality platform, Horizon Worlds, users have been largely unimpressed. Last month, the Journal reported that visitors to Horizon Worlds had fallen over the course of the year to well under 200,000 users, about the size of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“I get that a lot of people might disagree with this investment,” Zuckerberg told analysts on the company’s earnings call last month before reaffirming his commitment. “I think people are going to look back on decades from now and talk about the importance of the work that was done here.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Iceland takes a swipe at Zuckerberg’s ‘Meta’ announcement in new viral tourism video

November 15, 2021

If the goal was to get people talking about Iceland, a new tourism video is more than succeeding, reports CNBC.

Ineed, a video posted yesterday by Inspired by Iceland as part of a marketing campaign for Icelandic tourism takes aim at a Mark Zuckerberg video released in October announcing Facebook’s name change to Meta. In it, Zuckerberg hypes the so-called “metaverse”—a virtual world that “will be the successor to the mobile Internet.”

The metaverse’s defining quality, said Zuckerberg, is “the feeling of presence … like you’re there with other people.” Icelandic tourism authorities seem to think they can offer something better.

In the new video, a Zuckerberg lookalike—complete with his Caesar cut, minimalist garb and hand gestures—introduces viewers to “Icelandverse,” a place of “enhanced actual reality without silly looking headsets.”

“Today I want to talk about a revolutionary approach on how to connect our world—without being super weird,” the speaker deadpans to the camera.

The video extolls Iceland’s “completely immersive” experiences, such as its real rocks, real humans and “skies you can see with your eyeballs.”

Press materials sent to journalists continue the parody, explaining that Icelandverse was created “after millions of years in development” and that “users can explore and navigate their way through the many different layers of captivating reality, just by visiting.”

Officials, too, are in on the act.

“Icelandverse has been built with experts in government, industry, nature and academia, plus a few volcanoes,” said Sigridur Dogg Gudmundsdottir, head of Visit Iceland, in the video’s press release.

Reactions to the video have been overwhelmingly positive, with people praising the “Olympic-level trolling” by Iceland officials, and many expressing a desire to visit.

It isn’t the first time Iceland has relied on humor to draw attention to the Nordic island nation.

Videos by Inspired by Iceland use comedy to explain why not to wear jeans or high heels to Iceland. Its 2017 video entitled “The Hardest Karaoke Song in the World” has garnered nearly 14.5 million views on YouTube.

Research contact: @CNBC