After Meta layoffs, Zuckerberg reveals future of Facebook parent
“Going through restructuring and layoffs and changes like this is obviously a very difficult thing,” Zuckerberg said. “So it’s not like we’re going to end up exactly where we were before because that wasn’t my goal. I wanted to get to a more scrappy place.”
Zuckerberg’s comments ended a turbulent period for Meta. On Wednesday, the company began handing out its latest round of pink slips in a months-long campaign to cut more than 10,000 roles and close another 5,000 vacancies.
Meta, which owns Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, notified employees largely concentrated in the company’s business division, which includes teams working on advertising, human resources and policy initiatives, that their jobs were being cut. according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private arrangements. Senior executives also began announcing preliminary reorganization plans for their respective divisions, one of the people said.
In May, the company cut about 5,100 jobs, Meta CEO Lori Goler said Thursday. In March, the company laid off recruiters followed by about 4,000 cuts among technical teams in late April, The Washington Post has reported. The latest layoffs add to the workforce reduction in November, which eliminated about 11,000 jobs, or about 13 percent of Meta’s workforce.
Meta declined to comment.
How Mark Zuckerberg crushed Meta’s workforce
The layoffs at Meta come as the company battles a number of threats to its business model. Upstart apps like short-form video network TikTok have intensified competition among social media companies for ad dollars and users. Broader challenges in the digital advertising industry, such as new privacy rules from Apple and slowing growth in the e-commerce market, have hurt Meta’s coffers. Meanwhile, the company’s long-term efforts to build out immersive digital worlds known as the metaverse show no immediate signs of paying off.
Zuckerberg has billed 2023 as the “year of efficiency” as the company seeks to dismantle a culture and management system used to facilitate money and grow its workforce. Meta has sought to reduce the number of management layers between interns and Zuckerberg. The company has also pulled back on some projects such as some of its hardware devices and services to support publishers.
One of the main goals of the streamlining effort is to make Meta “a stronger technology company that can build better products faster,” Zuckerberg told employees Thursday. “And the other is about improving our financial performance so that we can maintain our ambitious, long-term investments and vision in what I still expect to be a difficult environment.”
Zuckerberg said Thursday that the company has no plans for another major company-wide layoff, but said that “the world is also volatile.” And in the future, the company plans to grow more slowly, which could mean fewer layoffs when Meta decides to scrap a project in favor of a new one. He added that he believes a lower number of employees will allow Meta to reduce red tape and make it easier to get work done.
“It just forces us to find ways to be scrappier and get things done more efficiently,” Zuckerberg said. “That means there’s going to be fewer environments or projects where there are too many cooks in the kitchen, which is just kind of a common complaint that I hear over and over throughout the company.”
Zuckerberg acknowledged that the business teams disproportionately affected by the cuts were more diverse than the technology teams, meaning the representation of some demographics took a hit.
On Wednesday, Zuckerberg told laid-off workers in a private conversation that while he appreciated their valuable contributions to the company, their roles were no longer critical to the company’s streamlined future.
“We’re changing the makeup of the company and pushing it to become scrappers,” he said, according to a recording of the conversation listened to by The Post. That pressure is not a “reflection on you or the work you did.”
The cuts, which have affected approximately 10,600 people, have weakened Meta’s workforce. It has gone through an unprecedented morale crisis as employee confidence in senior management and the direction of the company declines. Some have blamed top executives for not making better investment or hiring decisions — problems they say partly led to the cuts. Others have complained that the company erred when it planned the layoffs to take place over several months instead of just one day.
Meta to start new layoffs, severe cuts among company staff
“I understand layoffs are part of life, but this long process has been excruciating,” one worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, said in an interview. There was “so much uncertainty; no one got long-term work done.”
Wednesday’s cuts were of particular concern to those working on trust and security issues because they feared the layoffs would hamper the company’s ability to respond to viral political misinformation, foreign influence campaigns and regulatory challenges, among other issues.
On Thursday, Zuckerberg said he expects to unveil new guidelines on how and where employees will work now that concerns about the pandemic have subsided. He wants more of a “critical mass” of employees working together from the office at least a few days a week to improve performance and boost culture, he said.
And the company plans to revive its internal culture in part by spending more time talking about future innovations, including its investment in artificial intelligence. For example, the company has invested more in AI infrastructure in terms of capital expenditures than it has spent on Reality Labs, the division that oversees its metaverse efforts, among other things.
“We’ve really invested in building the AI capability because now we can bring all these different AI agents online [while] the rest of the industry is doing this mad scramble to get capacity,” he said.
Talking about the future is not something executives have been able to do in recent months “because we’ve just been talking about efficiencies and layoffs,” Zuckerberg said.