Zuckerberg announces $50 billion payout to Meta shareholders over child safety concerns

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on child safety yesterday – Susan Walsh/AP

Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta will pay out up to $50 billion to shareholders after reporting record revenue and a 200% surge in profits.

The social media giant behind Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp had revenue of more than $40 billion in the three months to December. Its shares soared more than 13% in after-hours trading Thursday night.

After last year’s massive layoffs to cut costs, Meta’s ad sales recovered significantly, with quarterly profits tripling to $14 billion. Meta’s headcount fell by 22%, equivalent to more than 19,000 employees.

Zuckerberg also announced that the social networking giant, which celebrates its 20th birthday this month, will pay its first dividend as a public company, worth 50 cents per share, worth a total of $1.25 billion. Meta said it will begin paying regular first-time dividends and will also buy back an additional $50 billion from shareholders.

strong results Just days after Zuckerberg was charged by U.S. senators Put profits before user safety.

Internal Meta emails released ahead of a Senate hearing this week show Zuckerberg rejected a request from Sir Nick Clegg, the company’s head of global affairs, to hire dozens of staff to help protect children on Facebook and Instagram.

“We had a good quarter as our community and business continue to grow,” Zuckerberg told investors on Thursday.

“We have made great progress in advancing our vision of artificial intelligence and virtual universes.”

Meta revealed that nearly half of the world’s population has signed up to join the social media empire, and nearly 4 billion people currently use at least one of its apps regularly.

Despite politicians’ threats to crack down on social media apps, Meta’s shares have hit a record high so far in 2024, rising 14%. Meta is currently worth over $1 trillion.

Separately, last night, Apple reported its first sales growth in more than a year, as demand for its latest iPhone reversed a rare losing streak.

The technology giant revealed that revenue in the last three months of last year rose 2% to $119.6 billion, and profits rose 13% to $34 billion.

Growth reversed Revenue declines for four consecutive quartersIt’s Apple’s longest losing streak since it launched the iPod two decades ago.

The move comes despite declining sales in China and growing questions about the business.

The company’s shares fell slightly in after-hours trading.

iPhone sales, which account for the majority of Apple’s revenue, grew 6%. Its services business, which includes the App Store and software such as Apple Music and Apple Pay, grew 11%. Sales of iPads fell, sales of Macs fell, computers rose slightly, and sales of accessories such as AirPods and Apple Watch also declined.

CEO Cook said there are currently 2.2 billion Apple products in use around the world

The figures come as Apple prepares to launch its products. Visual professional headphonesIt is the most important new product launch in Mr. Cook’s 13 years at the helm of the company, and it goes on sale in the United States on Friday.

Amazon posted its highest profits in two years as transaction volume surged during the Christmas period.

The company said sales rose 14% to $170 billion in the fourth quarter, in part due to growth outside the United States.

Profits rose to $10.6 billion from $30 billion a year ago, the strongest since late 2021, when rising coronavirus cases meant most consumers resorted to online shopping.

The growth in sales puts Amazon on track to overtake Walmart as the world’s top retail company by revenue.

Shares rose 6% in after-hours trading.

The Silicon Valley giant’s results come as layoffs continue to hit the industry. Video calling app Zoom laid off about 150 people, or about 2% of its workforce, while security app Okta laid off 400 employees.

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