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Parmy Olson

Zuckerberg’s Biggest Bet Might Not Pay Off

Years after the Facebook founder’s $19 billion purchase, WhatsApp could wind up more valuable as a sacrifice to regulators than as a viable business.

WhatsApp’s murky future.

WhatsApp’s murky future.

Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images North America

Mark Zuckerberg will probably wish he was hydrofoiling in Hawaii on Wednesday instead of revealing Meta Platforms Inc.’s second-quarter earnings. Analysts have curbed their estimates for the social giant, and Zuckerberg’s own foreboding comments to staff suggest the numbers won’t be good. He also will have to face a stark reality about the aimlessness of WhatsApp, his biggest investment to date. 

Challenges abound across Zuckerberg’s conglomerate. Instagram is mired in trying to copy ByteDance Inc.’s  TikTok, with mixed success. Young people don’t want to use Facebook, whose overall growth has slowed, and Apple Inc. is blocking advertisers on Facebook’s app from targeting people.