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Facebook Is Still Making Billions as Zuckerberg Hits the Panic Button

It’s not time to feel sorry for the social media giant.

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Illustration: Daniel Jurman for Bloomberg Businessweek

Mark Zuckerberg is trying something new. No, I don’t mean his latest attempts to rip off aspects of a major rival while swallowing up startups in a nascent field he hopes to dominate. Zuckerberg has used those tactics to great success for more than a decade. I’m talking about his attempt to present Meta Platforms Inc., the company formerly known as Facebook, as an underdog.

During an all-hands meeting earlier this summer, Zuckerberg painted a picture of a company in crisis. Facebook’s revenue growth had accelerated dramatically during the Covid pandemic, as users spent more time on their devices and shopped online nonstop. For the second quarter of 2019, the company had reported year-over-year revenue growth of 28%; two years later, that figure had doubled, to 56%. But now reality was setting in. Zuckerberg warned that Meta was entering one of the “worst downturns that we’ve seen in recent history.” He reprised the message on the company’s latest earnings call, on July 27. “I try to push the company to be one that learns faster and just keeps iterating,” he explained. “The moment that we stop doing that, then we’ll basically fall behind. It’s a very competitive field.”