October 7, 2022

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri

Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

Instagram chief Adam Mosseri is moving from San Francisco to London in a bid to boost parent company Meta’s ambition to lure users away from TikTok as it faces a user decline.

Mosseri will move to London later this year and the move will be temporary, a Meta spokesperson confirmed to CNBC. The news was reported for the first time from the Financial Times.

London is Meta’s largest engineering hub outside the US, with more than 4,000 employees, including a dedicated Instagram product team and roles focused on developing services for creators. That’s where the company’s Workplace messaging app was first developed.

Meta said Mosseri will help the company’s creative team in London, which is focused on helping some users monetize their posts and dealing with TikTok’s rapid rise. The company is trying to reposition itself as a platform group that enables e-commerce in an online universe known as the “metataver,” rather than just a tool for advertisers to target people digitally.

Meta has struggled to convince investors of its move into the metaverse, with the company’s shares falling more sharply than Big Tech’s Alphabet amid a broader slump in tech stocks and as its apps lose ground to China’s TikTok. The company reported its first-ever drop in revenue in the second quarter and gave weak guidance for the next quarter. Its push into the metaverse has proved costly, with the virtual reality division losing $2.8 billion in the three months to June.

To counter TikTok’s wild growth, Meta tried to emulate the platform with tweaks to its own apps, including creating its own short video feature called “Shorts.” The company also made some controversial changes to Instagram by prioritizing algorithmically generated content over posts from friends. The move led to backlash from users, including Kim Kardashian.

Mosseri’s move could be seen as an attempt to charm regulators in the UK. The government wants to give media watchdog Ofcom more powers to police Instagram and other social media platforms through a new law called the Internet Safety Bill. However, progress on the bill has been muddled by the resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the subsequent search for a new leader.

It also marks a broader push by Meta into remote work. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has stood out as one of the biggest advocates of telecommuting among Silicon Valley leaders. In 2020, it began allowing some employees to work from home permanently, before later expanding the policy to cover all employees. The company also developed an app called Horizon Worlds that allows people to hold team meetings through virtual reality headsets.

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