Mark Zuckerberg Missed the GenAI Trend, But He Was Ready Nonetheless

Meta strategically doubles GPU orders, eyeing future tech shifts

by Zain ul Abedin
Mark Zuckerberg Missed the GenAI Trend, But He Was Ready Nonetheless
© Alex Wong/Getty Images

Meta, the tech conglomerate formerly known as Facebook, has significantly ramped up its acquisition of GPUs (graphics processing units). This move CEO Mark Zuckerberg asserts is geared toward advancing the company's algorithms rather than delving into the burgeoning field of generative AI.

In a strategic pivot, Zuckerberg disclosed that Meta's procurement of GPUs - primarily sourced from Nvidia - was intended to enhance content ranking systems across its platforms, including Reels on Instagram and Facebook, rather than for creating AI-driven tools.

This tactical shift aims to overhaul Meta's algorithm from one that prioritizes content from a user's social circle to one that introduces them to "unconnected content." This approach, which mirrors the successful model employed by TikTok, showcases content that users are likely to find engaging based on their previous interactions within the app.

This model has been instrumental in TikTok's rapid growth, eclipsing that of Meta's applications for a period. In a revealing interview with podcaster Dwarkesh Patel, Zuckerberg shared insights into the company's strategic direction, particularly in relation to its algorithmic adjustments designed to bolster Reels' performance and enhance user engagement across its platforms.

"Our goal was to catch up with TikTok," Zuckerberg admitted, underscoring the urgency of adapting to competitive pressures within the tech landscape.

Strategic GPU Investment

Despite the lack of initial focus on generative AI technologies, Zuckerberg's foresight in doubling the GPU order - beyond the immediate needs for content recommendation enhancements - reflects a broader strategy to prepare for unforeseen technological shifts.

This precautionary measure stems from past experiences where Meta was caught off-guard, such as the transition to mobile technology, challenges with political content manipulation, and the explosive rise of short-form video content.

Reflecting on the decision, Zuckerberg commented, "Doubling our GPU investment was a good decision in retrospect." He attributed this judicious move to lessons learned from previous strategic missteps, emphasizing a desire to avoid repeating past errors.

"It came from being behind…most of the time, our decisions that seem prescient are born out of prior mistakes we are determined not to repeat," he added.

Mark Zuckerberg