But this week marked a troubling difference. Facebook’s
announcement that user numbers had dropped for the first time laid
bare a long-neglected vulnerability: Digital advertising accounts
for 98% of Meta’s revenue, and it also accounts for 81% of
Alphabet’s. Of the world’s five biggest tech companies, including
Amazon Inc., Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp., Facebook and Google
are the least diversified.
Though conventional wisdom says that conglomerates shouldn’t put
all their eggs in one basket, it is hard to knock a business model
that has been so successful. After all, people were calling Google
a one-trick pony back in the early 2000s because of its bet on
ads, and that bet has paid off handsomely two decades later.
“Through most of the first decade the concept that Google would
make $10 billion was inconceivable to people inside the company,”
says Sridhar Ramaswamy, who ran Google’s ad business for about
five years until he left in 2018.