Meta is poised on Wednesday to begin handing out the first of 10,000 pink slips it plans to give employees over the next few months, marking continued turmoil at the social media giant as it battles business woes.
As Meta works through its second mass layoff in less than six months, a wave of doubts and frustration has settled over the company’s workforce about its leadership and direction under CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Some remaining employees are actively searching for new jobs, while others are wondering what their future at the company looks like.
“Everyone [of] us [is] on edge now,” said one current employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record. “Even more so than before.”
This week’s layoffs are in addition to the 11,000 jobs slashed in November by Meta, which together will bring the company’s total head count to about 66,000. The moves follow a steep drop in profits for the company, which makes most of its money off digital advertising.
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“Last year, was the most challenging year yet for Meta as a public company,” said Jasmine Enberg, a principal analyst who covers social media for Insider Intelligence. “The economy rattled its ad business, there were the [Apple] IOS changes that caused advertisers to diversify some of their spending and there was just increased competition for eyeballs.”
Meta declined to comment.
Adding to the challenges, Meta is increasingly facing competition for marketing dollars and users from upstart rivals, such as the short-form video network TikTok. And it’s made a huge gamble on the “metaverse,” a term used to describe immersive digital realms accessed through augmented and virtual reality, which has yet to pay off.
The Washington Post previously reported that the company was planning the cuts. And although Zuckerberg had hinted that more cuts were to come — Meta called 2023 the “year of efficiency” — media reports detailing internal plans have caused a wave of anxiety and resentment at the company’s workforce, according to at least a half-dozen people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.
“I think the anxiety and not knowing [the specifics about the looming cuts] but reading so much speculation got to folks,” said another employee. “Some have already gone or [are] planning to.”
Meta’s latest layoffs are part of a larger wave of cuts in the technology industry, which has slashed tens of thousands of jobs over the past year. After a long period of seemingly unstoppable economic success, Google and Amazon are among some of the other large internet platforms that have cut their workforces. The result has meant that the industry’s labor market has been flooded with talent, particularly workers who held jobs outside of engineering.
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Inside Meta, human resource managers, lawyers and top executives have been tasked with drawing up plans to reorganize workers within various divisions around the world, reevaluate projects and come up with lists of jobs to cut, according to a person familiar with the matter. Their plans have also included pushing some managers into roles without direct reports, thereby reducing the number of layers of leadership in an effort to speed up decision-making and cut costs. Other managers will be asked to oversee even more reports.
In recent weeks, many employees swapped intel they gleaned from one another and anonymous “leaks” on Blind, a workplace app that gives users with a Facebook email unrestricted access to a private and anonymous message board. The forum, a place where current and former Meta employees offer their unvarnished opinions about their workplace, also became a place where employees expressed their anxieties about the coming changes and gripes about the company’s leadership. Some workers participated in informal polls about whether they thought they would be the ones to get laid off, while others simply pleaded for information, according to messages obtained by The Post.
“If there are any recruiting leaders on this forum that have intel into how this next round of layoffs will be determined and unfold … myself and my fellow sourcers/recruiters/rc’s would really love to hear from you,” one person wrote before Zuckerberg’s announcement on Tuesday. “The stress of the unknown is far worse than being able to accept things more directly and head on.”
Another user wrote that they wished that Meta would offer voluntary buyouts because they would gladly give their spot to visa holders and those with families. “I don’t have any responsibilities so I could always find a new job when things get better,” the person wrote.
Zuckerberg on Tuesday said he knew the cuts and restructuring would “mean saying goodbye to talented and passionate colleagues who have been part of our success.”
But he added that the financial challenges facing Meta, including higher interest rates, geopolitical instability and increased regulation, could be the industry’s status quo for years to come. For those reasons, Zuckerberg said, it was necessary to make cuts and restructure the company’s workforce so that it could become a leaner, more efficient and ultimately more successful business.
“Operating our business more efficiently will give us the resources and confidence to achieve our long term vision by delivering sustainable financial results that make us an attractive company to work at and invest in,” he wrote.
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Still, many employees blame the company’s financial woes and the anxiety-provoking layoff process partially on the leadership of Zuckerberg, who is the company’s chief executive and chairman, and who controls the voting power of the board.
Some said the company’s top leadership could have made better investments to achieve greater profitability or avoided the overly optimistic hiring spree that partially led to these cuts in the first place. Other employees blamed the company for not being more transparent about the looming changes.
“Ultimately, this is his fault,” one employee said in an interview about Zuckerberg. “You join this company knowing that this is his play toy.”