Meta Shares Soar as Zuckerberg Declares 'Year of Efficiency'

Meta Platforms Inc.’s shares soared more than 20%, on track for their biggest gain in 10 years, after Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg announced plans to make the social media giant leaner, more efficient and more decisive.

The stock rose in trading after New York markets closed on Wednesday. If the gains hold, the move would be the biggest intraday jump since July 2013. Meta is the best performer in the S&P 500 Index since the stock’s recent November 3 closing low of $88.91, and is poised to more than double in value since then.

Zuckerberg, who has spent the past year promising a faraway future in a digital world called the metaverse, was more focused on immediate problems, such as sending users the most relevant videos at the right time, and finally making significant revenue from messaging products. He called 2023 the “Year of Efficiency.”

“We’re working on flattening our org structure and removing some layers of middle management to make decisions faster, as well as deploying AI tools to help our engineers be more productive,” Zuckerberg said on an earnings call with investors. “There’s going to be some more that we can do to improve our productivity, speed and cost structure.”

Zuckerberg said the company is using AI to improve the way it recommends content — a strategy for making the platform more attractive to users and advertisers alike. Meta is still suffering from a slump in demand for digital ads, which make up the vast majority of its sales, especially from clients in finance and technology. But the company also pointed to some industries, including health and travel, where businesses are spending more.

Fourth-quarter sales fell 4% to $32.2 billion, the third straight period of declines. Even so, the total beat analysts’ estimates, and Meta projected revenue of $26 billion to $28.5 billion for the first quarter, in line with an average projection of $27.3 billion. Analysts are predicting that Meta will return to growth following the current period.