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Meta shares plummet 20% after earnings released, company now worth what it was in 2016

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Facebook parent Meta on Wednesday reported that its revenue declined for a second consecutive quarter, hurt by falling advertising sales as it faces competition from TikTok’s wildly popular video app.

The quarter’s weak results raised fresh questions about whether Meta’s plans to spend $10 billion US a year on the metaverse — a concept that doesn’t quite exist yet and possibly never will — is prudent while its main source of revenue is faltering.

The quarterly results from Meta Platforms Inc. sent its stock tumbling more than 20 per cent to barely above $100, a level it has not dipped below since 2016. Prior to the latest sell-off it was already down by 61 per cent for the year.

The Menlo Park, Calif., company earned $4.4 billion, or $1.64 per share, in the three month period that ended Sept. 30. Analysts were expecting a profit of $1.90 per share, on average, according to FactSet.

Revenue fell four per cent, to $27.71 billion from $29.01 billion.

Some of the company’s investors are concerned Meta is spending too much money and confusing people with its focus on the metaverse, a virtual, mixed and augmented reality concept that few people understand — while it also grapples with a weakening advertising business.

“Meta has drifted into the land of excess — too many people, too many ideas, too little urgency,” wrote Brad Gerstner, the CEO of Meta shareholder Altimeter Capital, earlier this week in a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “This lack of focus and fitness is obscured when growth is easy but deadly when growth slows and technology changes.”

In addition to an accelerating revenue decline, Meta also forecast weaker-than-expected sales for the current quarter, further raising worries that the revenue slump is more of a trend than an aberration.

“While we face near-term challenges on revenue, the fundamentals are there for a return to stronger revenue growth,” Zuckerberg said in a statement. “We’re approaching 2023 with a focus on prioritization and efficiency that will help us navigate the current environment and emerge an even stronger company.”

From August 3:

 

Front Burner24:02As Meta struggles, Zuckerberg puts employees under the gun

As the global economy slows down, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is pushing employees to speed up. The Facebook and Instagram parent company set a record in February, losing the most stock value in a single day in U.S. history. But Zuckerberg has continued sinking billions of dollars into his vision of a “metaverse,” pressed for faster updates to compete with TikTok, and is upping the pressure on employees. According to reports of an internal Q&A in June, Zuckerberg told employees: “Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here.” Today, The Verge deputy editor Alex Heath explains the many threats to Meta that make this “the most pressure” it’s ever faced, and how struggles across the tech sector are causing an unprecedented shift in its lavish culture.

Meta said it expects staffing levels to stay roughly the same as in the current quarter. The company had about 87,000 employees as of Sept. 30, an increase of 28 per cent year-over-year.

“To return to stronger growth, Meta needs to turn its business around,” said Insider Intelligence analyst Debra Aho Williamson. “As Facebook Inc., it was a revolutionary company that changed the way people communicate and the way marketers interact with consumers. Today it’s no longer that innovative groundbreaker.”

She went on to say that “Meta would benefit from less priority on the metaverse and more on fixing its core business.”

Meta’s Reality Labs unit, which includes its metaverse and virtual reality efforts, had an operating loss of $3.67 billion in the third quarter, compared with a loss of $2.63 billion a year earlier. Its revenue was $285 million.

Despite the revenue decline, about 3.71 billion people logged in to at least one of Meta’s family of apps — Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger — up four per cent year-over-year.

Facebook breaches election transparency law again

In a separate development on Wednesday, a Washington state judge on Wednesday fined Meta $25 million for repeatedly and intentionally violating campaign finance disclosure law, in what is believed to be the largest campaign finance penalty in U.S. history.

The penalty issued by King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North was the maximum allowed for more than 800 violations of Washington’s Fair Campaign Practices Act. Attorney General Bob Ferguson argued that the maximum was appropriate considering his office previously sued Facebook in 2018 for violating the same law.

Washington’s transparency law requires ad sellers such as Meta to keep and make public the names and addresses of those who buy political ads, the target of such ads, how the ads were paid for and the total number of views of each ad. Ad sellers must provide the information to anyone who asks for it. Television stations and newspapers have complied with the law for decades.

But Meta has repeatedly objected to the requirements, arguing unsuccessfully in court that the law is unconstitutional because it “unduly burdens political speech” and is “virtually impossible to fully comply with.” While Facebook does keep an archive of political ads that run on the platform, the archive does not disclose all the information required under Washington’s law.

 

The Current30:03Full conversation with Frances Haugen: Why whistleblower thinks Canada could lead a coalition to demand change at Facebook

In an extended version of Thursday’s conversation, former Facebook employee-turned-whistleblower Frances Haugen tells Matt Galloway about why she chose to disclose thousands of documents about the social media giant, and why she thinks Canada could lead a coalition of countries to demand change.

“I have one word for Facebook’s conduct in this case — arrogance,” Ferguson said in a news release. “It intentionally disregarded Washington’s election transparency laws. But that wasn’t enough. Facebook argued in court that those laws should be declared unconstitutional. That’s breathtaking. Where’s the corporate responsibility?”

In 2018, following Ferguson’s first lawsuit, Facebook agreed to pay $238,000 and committed to transparency in campaign finance and political advertising. It subsequently said it would stop selling political ads in the state rather than comply with the requirements.

Nevertheless, the company continued selling political ads, and Ferguson sued again in 2020.

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LCBO strike over after company, union settle last-minute dispute to finalize tentative deal – Toronto Star

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  1. LCBO strike over after company, union settle last-minute dispute to finalize tentative deal  Toronto Star
  2. CTV National News: End of a dry July  CTV News
  3. LCBO strike ends: 10,000 unionized employees back to work Monday, stores opening Tuesday  National Post
  4. LCBO strike to end with stores set to reopen Tuesday  CBC.ca
  5. LCBO confirms strike over, stores to reopen Tuesday after deal was put on hold  Ottawa Citizen

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Half of Ontarians support union’s goals in ongoing LCBO strike: poll

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Fewer than one-third of Ontarians say they want the provincial government to intervene to end the 12-day strike at Ontario’s main liquor retailer, while about half are supportive of the striking union’s demands.

That’s according to a new Leger poll that asked if the government should use binding arbitration or legislation to ensure LCBO stores open as soon as possible.

Twenty-nine per cent of respondents supported such a move, while 44 per cent opposed it. The poll also asked if respondents support the union’s stated goals, including wage increases and more permanent positions. Just under half, 49 per cent, answered in the affirmative, while 25 per cent said they were not supportive.

Awareness of the strike in Ontario is high, according to the poll, with 89 per cent saying they knew about it, though only 15 per cent reported being personally affected. The Leger poll of 601 residents, conducted last weekend, can’t be assigned a margin of error because online surveys are not considered truly random samples.

Approximately 10,000 workers at the LCBO walked off the job on July 5 after negotiations broke down.

The union representing the workers said the sides were headed back to the bargaining table Wednesday.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union has said the main issue is the province’s alcohol expansion plans that would see ready-to-drink cocktails sold outside LCBO stores — a move it maintains poses an existential threat to the LCBO and could lead to major job losses.

Colleen MacLeod, chair of the union’s LCBO bargaining unit, has said the plan would “mean thousands of lost jobs, fewer hours for the 70 per cent of LCBO retail workers who are casual and struggling to make ends meet, and hundreds of millions in dollars of lost public revenues drained from health care, education and infrastructure.”

The LCBO, a Crown corporation, nets the province $2.5 billion a year.

On Monday, the Ontario government sped up its expansion plan. The 450 stores across Ontario already licensed to sell beer, wine and ciders will be able to start ordering coolers and seltzers on Thursday and sell them as soon as they arrive.

The province has said it does not want to privatize the LCBO, and that the expansion is about giving people more choice and more convenience to buy alcohol.

Stephanie Ross, an associate professor in the school of labour studies at McMaster University, said Premier Doug Ford doesn’t have a great reputation when it comes to labour, given the high-profile disputes in recent years with health-care and education workers. And he’s faced accusations of making policy moves that benefit friends in the private sector, a criticism that’s been levied against him in the LCBO dispute.

“There is a base of support for the union’s message here, both in terms of the working conditions that they’re trying to fight to improve, and in terms of the role that the LCBO plays in funding public services in the province,” she said.

But the public may not be as sympathetic to LCBO workers as it has been to some others, like in the Metro grocery workers’ strike last year, she said — a relatively straightforward fight by low-paid workers struggling to afford food against the industry being partially blamed for food prices.

“And so in the depths of a kind of historic cost-of-living crisis, I think it was easier to feel sympathy for such workers in terms of really having to fight to make up lost ground.”

That means the LCBO union has its work cut out to try and convince the public of its cause, said Ross, especially when consumers are already divided on the liquor privatization issue in the first place. She thinks the union is doing a good job, however, of arguing the case for the LCBO as a public asset that helps fund important public services.

Larry Savage, a professor in the labour studies department at Brock University, said it’s clear both the union and the Ford government “are working hard to win over the public to their respective positions.”

The union has a “potentially powerful strategy” to gain public support, but it’s not a surefire one, he said in an email.

This strategy “requires people to connect the dots between the privatization of the LCBO and the loss of a critical revenue stream that contributes billions to public services like health care and education.”

Meanwhile, the government’s strategy has been to try and leverage consumer frustration over the strike in order to drive more support for increased privatization, said Savage.

“It’s a high-risk strategy because a heavy-handed approach can sometimes backfire and garner greater sympathy for the workers and their cause.”

In the Leger poll, 32 per cent of respondents said they looked for alternative locations to buy alcohol due to the strike, and while 15 per cent said they were concerned the strike could cause them to spend more money on alcohol.

Savage said while many consumers are likely inconvenienced, he also thinks most Ontarians are suspicious of the premier’s intentions when it comes to the LCBO: “It’s a classic case of private profits over the public good.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 17, 2024.

 

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Half of Ontarians support union’s goals in ongoing LCBO strike: poll

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Fewer than one-third of Ontarians say they want the provincial government to intervene to end the 12-day strike at Ontario’s main liquor retailer, while about half are supportive of the striking union’s demands.

That’s according to a new Leger poll that asked if the government should use binding arbitration or legislation to ensure LCBO stores open as soon as possible.

Twenty-nine per cent of respondents supported such a move, while 44 per cent opposed it. The poll also asked if respondents support the union’s stated goals, including wage increases and more permanent positions. Just under half, 49 per cent, answered in the affirmative, while 25 per cent said they were not supportive.

Awareness of the strike in Ontario is high, according to the poll, with 89 per cent saying they knew about it, though only 15 per cent reported being personally affected. The Leger poll of 601 residents, conducted last weekend, can’t be assigned a margin of error because online surveys are not considered truly random samples.

Approximately 10,000 workers at the LCBO walked off the job on July 5 after negotiations broke down.

The union representing the workers said the sides were headed back to the bargaining table Wednesday.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union has said the main issue is the province’s alcohol expansion plans that would see ready-to-drink cocktails sold outside LCBO stores — a move it maintains poses an existential threat to the LCBO and could lead to major job losses.

Colleen MacLeod, chair of the union’s LCBO bargaining unit, has said the plan would “mean thousands of lost jobs, fewer hours for the 70 per cent of LCBO retail workers who are casual and struggling to make ends meet, and hundreds of millions in dollars of lost public revenues drained from health care, education and infrastructure.”

The LCBO, a Crown corporation, nets the province $2.5 billion a year.

On Monday, the Ontario government sped up its expansion plan. The 450 stores across Ontario already licensed to sell beer, wine and ciders will be able to start ordering coolers and seltzers on Thursday and sell them as soon as they arrive.

The province has said it does not want to privatize the LCBO, and that the expansion is about giving people more choice and more convenience to buy alcohol.

Stephanie Ross, an associate professor in the school of labour studies at McMaster University, said Premier Doug Ford doesn’t have a great reputation when it comes to labour, given the high-profile disputes in recent years with health-care and education workers. And he’s faced accusations of making policy moves that benefit friends in the private sector, a criticism that’s been levied against him in the LCBO dispute.

“There is a base of support for the union’s message here, both in terms of the working conditions that they’re trying to fight to improve, and in terms of the role that the LCBO plays in funding public services in the province,” she said.

But the public may not be as sympathetic to LCBO workers as it has been to some others, like in the Metro grocery workers’ strike last year, she said — a relatively straightforward fight by low-paid workers struggling to afford food against the industry being partially blamed for food prices.

“And so in the depths of a kind of historic cost-of-living crisis, I think it was easier to feel sympathy for such workers in terms of really having to fight to make up lost ground.”

That means the LCBO union has its work cut out to try and convince the public of its cause, said Ross, especially when consumers are already divided on the liquor privatization issue in the first place. She thinks the union is doing a good job, however, of arguing the case for the LCBO as a public asset that helps fund important public services.

Larry Savage, a professor in the labour studies department at Brock University, said it’s clear both the union and the Ford government “are working hard to win over the public to their respective positions.”

The union has a “potentially powerful strategy” to gain public support, but it’s not a surefire one, he said in an email.

This strategy “requires people to connect the dots between the privatization of the LCBO and the loss of a critical revenue stream that contributes billions to public services like health care and education.”

Meanwhile, the government’s strategy has been to try and leverage consumer frustration over the strike in order to drive more support for increased privatization, said Savage.

“It’s a high-risk strategy because a heavy-handed approach can sometimes backfire and garner greater sympathy for the workers and their cause.”

In the Leger poll, 32 per cent of respondents said they looked for alternative locations to buy alcohol due to the strike, and while 15 per cent said they were concerned the strike could cause them to spend more money on alcohol.

Savage said while many consumers are likely inconvenienced, he also thinks most Ontarians are suspicious of the premier’s intentions when it comes to the LCBO: “It’s a classic case of private profits over the public good.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 17, 2024.

 

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