Meta looks to WhatsApp to unlock growth

Meta is looking for ways to finally start making some real money from WhatsApp.

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Meta looks to WhatsApp to unlock growth


The Future. Meta is looking for ways to finally start making some real money from WhatsApp, looking at the platform as a necessary growth driver in the wake of its shaky investment in the metaverse and shortfalls with Reels. One of those ideas is eventually turning WhatsApp into a “superapp” similar to WeChat (Musk has the same idea with Twitter). While WhatsApp may have the user base and potential partnerships to make that happen, Meta’s almost-total reliance on advertising may chafe against the quick-use tenants of an app built on daily utility.

Get the message out
Meta sees a lot of potential in scaling WhatsApp, according to Insider.

  • This past May, the company held its first conference centered on its messaging business, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg touting WhatsApp’s API — the tech that allows the app to communicate with other apps.
    • The free version of the API is used by at least 50 million businesses.
  • It also rolled out a big marketing campaign for the platform and called it out on two earnings calls.
  • Zuck said the company is also using WhatsApp to re-track-and-target customers after Apple’s privacy changes… and even boasted that WhatsApp is more secure than iMessage.

And, internally, a “sense of urgency is building” to monetize WhatsApp — something the company hasn’t been able to figure out since it acquired the company in 2014 for $22 billion (still Meta’s biggest acquisition to date).

Meta’s messaging business only made $218 million last quarter — a drop in the bucket compared to the company’s overall revenue of $29 billion (most of it through advertising).

Throw everything at it
So, how can WhatsApp make money?

  • Most of WhatsApp’s revenue comes from brands sending “click to message” ads — which GM used successfully in Brazil, prompting people to message their dealers to purchase a car.
  • But Meta’s VP of business messaging, Matt Idema, says that it can potentially monetize through, well, “business messaging” — a feature that allows brands to serve and advertise to customers through texting.
  • That could also include replacing 1-800 numbers with a WhatsApp number that can better handle incoming inquiries.

The other idea being floated is to turn it into a “superapp” (though Meta refused to call it that) — a single platform to do everything from payments to social networking to ridesharing. It’s already testing these capabilities in India with grocery fulfillment (through a partnership with JioMart) and ridesharing (through a partnership with Uber).

India — along with Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico — is one of WhatsApp’s largest markets.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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