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The Metaverse pioneer and the world's largest social network

Meta Platforms, formerly known as Facebook, is the world’s largest social media company and one of the largest digital advertising companies in the world. Meta has over three billion daily active users and almost half of the total world population as users across its different platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Given the enormous success and incredible growth since its inception, Meta is a part of the famous FAANG cohort, which besides Meta (Facebook) consists of Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Alphabet (Google).

The company also aims at building out the next big digital connectivity platform, often referred to as the Metaverse. This venture into augmented and virtual reality started with the acquisition of Oculus back in 2014. Other known subsidiaries are Giphy, Mapillary, Kustomer, and Jio Platforms.

Dorm room dreams

Meta, formerly known as FaceMash and later Thefacebook, was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, and was launched from his dorm room at Harvard back in 2003. It was first introduced as a “hot or not” platform for rating college girls’ faces, and limited to Ivy League college email addresses. However, it did not take long for the platform to explode into a global connectivity revolution. Two years after its launch, Thefacebook had attracted roughly 6 million users.

And just three years after its founding, the board decided to decline a $1 billion takeover bid from Yahoo!.

Their internal valuation of the company was apparently closer to $8 billion, projecting $1 billion in revenue by 2015 (Meta would later report closer to $6 billion in revenue with a 44% operating margin in 2015). If you want to know more about the origins of Meta, and if you have not seen the movie The Social Network, it is definitely worth 120 minutes of your time.

The Instagram acquisition

Instagram got over one million downloads during its first day being available on Android, and got acquired by Facebook just 6 days after its launch. The deal was closed shortly before Facebook’s IPO and was considered very expensive at the time, almost indefensible, as the price tag was $1 billion. This was ironically the same price as Yahoo! offered to acquire Facebook back in 2006.

Today, Instagram is one of the most popular apps ever in terms of both downloads and engagement. Since Meta is not disclosing Instagram’s financial figures we can not know for sure, but experts estimate that it reached around $25 billion of revenue in 2020. If that estimate is remotely close to being true, Instagram should be considered one of the best acquisitions of all time.

Betting on the Metaverse

Much like with the internet back in the 1970s, it is hard to fully grasp what the so-called Metaverse will look like in its fully adopted form, but thought leading CEOs like Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella portrays it as a gigantic paradigm shift for digital connectivity. The vision is to go from 2D communication services like Zoom, to 3D interaction capabilities using technologies such as virtual and augmented reality.

Let’s take a look at an imaginary example: You want to learn how to play the guitar. Now imagine that you could lend a free trial guitar that looks exactly like you want from a virtual Metaverse music instrument’s shop, which also includes one hour of teaching from a digital AI avatar called Slash_GnR66. You could start learning instantly straight from the comfort of your own living room, using your virtual reality headset.