Scoop: Facebook shrinks its experimental product division

And you can probably guess what it's working on now

Scoop: Facebook shrinks its experimental product division
“Movers carrying boxes out of an old laboratory, digital art,” DALL-E

Facebook’s New Product Experimentation division is scaling back its mission dramatically, Platformer has learned.

The product group, which was created in 2019 to build everything from games to business tools, was recently given a new mission. In a recent memo, Meta Chief Product Officer Chris Cox directed the team to focus its efforts entirely on innovation in short-form video, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The move comes amid concerns that Meta’s own short-form video product, Reels, is failing to keep pace with its rival TikTok. The Wall Street Journal reported this week on an internal analysis in August that found user engagement with Reels had actually fallen over the past four weeks. (A spokeswoman said engagement is currently up overall.) The report also said users continue to prefer uploading TikToks to the platform over making native Reels despite the fact that Instagram is programmed to make TikToks harder to find.

Separately, a recent survey of creators found that Instagram offered less “fun,” “reach,” “fair algorithms” and “care” than TikTok or YouTube, The Information reported today.

“From day one, exploring creative tools has been a focus area for New Product Experimentation (NPE),” Meta told me in a statement. “With hundreds of ideas and dozens of products explored over the past few years, including those for video and creative tools, we're excited to leverage what we've learned from these experiments and our engagement with other teams at Meta to help creators tell better stories and connect more deeply with others."