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Meta’s $180 billion plunge sinks tech futures as metaverse bulls run for cover

February 3, 2022, 11:05 AM UTC

A giant miss and a lousy business outlook are sinking Meta shares in premarket trading, a plunge that’s dragging down tech futures across the board on Thursday.

At 5 a.m. ET, Meta futures were down nearly 20%, equivalent to a $180 billion collapse in market capitalization for the social media giant—and, more recently, metaverse pioneer. That would put the company on track to suffer the largest one-day haircut ever recorded, and nearly wipe out all of last year’s gains, Deutsche Bank calculates.

“The market cap loss is also bigger than the market cap of Netflix,” writes Jim Reid, global head of credit strategy and thematic research at Deutsche Bank. “This gives a scale of damage done.”

A few hours ago, things looked even worse. After the bell on Wednesday, Mark Zuckerberg’s creation was down even further as investors dumped shares on news the company delivered a big bottom-line miss on profits and on daily active users.

Despite troubles in its core business, the company still pushed ahead on its metaverse ambitions. Meta disclosed it spent $10 billion on metaverse-related projects, even if Zuck himself says the actual concept—imagine a fully immersive 3D digital setting where users can work, play, and interact—is still a good 10 years away from reality. Zuckerberg is so big on the M-word he changed the company name from Facebook to Meta.

He’s hardly the only bull. Wall Street buy-side pros see the metaverse as one of the most promising transitions in tech-spending. Goldman Sachs told investors last month the metaverse represented an $8 trillion—trillion with a T—opportunity. The big problem: The share prices of most companies associated with the great metaverse buildout—from data-center infrastructure supplier Marvell Technology to chips giant Nvidia to metaverse gaming platform Roblox—are deeply in the red since the start of the year.

Meta hasn’t fared much better. Shares initially popped following the name-change in late October, but have since lost those gains with the latest swoon. In fact, this morning’s plunge knocks more than $24 billion off Zuckerberg’s personal paper fortune, Bloomberg calculates.

Facebook is hardly the only tech giant in the red. Snap (down 15% in premarket), Spotify (off 7.8%), Qualcomm (–3.8%), Amazon (–3.2%), and Google’s Alphabet (–1.4%) are other names being pulled down in the selloff. Amazon reports Q4 and full-year results after the bell today, putting investors further on edge should a FAANG bellwether disappoint.

Futures for the large-cap Nasdaq 100 were down more than 2% premarket. In Europe, the tech sector was among the worst performers in early trading.

Check out this Fortune must-read: “Why Wall Street thinks the metaverse will be worth trillions”