Facebook parent company Meta, declared extensive layoffs of 11,000 staff recently, equivalent to 13% of its workforce, in the first major round of layoffs in the social media giant’s history. The company will also extend its hiring freeze through the first quarter.
“I want to take accountability for these decisions and for how we got here,” Zuckerberg said in the statement that was sent to Meta employees and posted on the company’s website. “I know this is tough for everyone, and I’m especially sorry to those impacted.”
The company said that while reductions will happen across the company, its recruiting team will be disproportionately affected, and its business teams would be restructured “more substantially.” Meta will also reduce its real estate footprint, review its infrastructure spending and transition some employees to desk sharing, with more cost-cutting announcements expected in the coming months.
Meta, whose stock has plunged 71% this year, is taking steps to pare costs following several quarters of disappointing earnings and a slide in revenue. The retrenchment, the company’s most drastic since the founding of Facebook in 2004, reflects a sharp slowdown in the digital advertising market, an economy wobbling on the brink of recession and Zuckerberg’s multibillion-dollar investment in a speculative virtual-reality push called the metaverse.
Shares rose about 3.5% in premarket trading on Wednesday before markets opened in New York.
Zuckerberg said in the statement that he’d anticipated that the surge in e-commerce and web traffic from the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdowns would be part of a permanent acceleration. “But the macroeconomic downturn, increased competition, and ads signal loss have caused our revenue to be much lower than expected. I got this wrong.”
Meta is joining a spate of technology companies that have announced job cuts in recent weeks or said they planned to pause hiring. Corporate software maker Salesforce Inc. on Tuesday said it cut hundreds of workers from sales teams, while Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc. have all slowed or paused hiring. Snap Inc., parent of rival app Snapchat, is also scaling back, saying in August that it would eliminate 20% of its workforce.
In a particularly chaotic round of dismissals, Twitter Inc. cut roughly half of its workforce last week with many employees finding out they’d lost their jobs when they were suddenly cut off from Slack or email.
At Meta, employees will continue to have access to their emails so that they can say goodbye to colleagues, though they’ve been cut off from more sensitive corporate systems, Zuckerberg said. US workers who were cut will also get 16 weeks of their base salary as severance, plus two weeks for every year they worked at the company.
The company is also offering six months of health-care coverage as well as career services and immigration support. Packages will be similar outside the US, in keeping with local employment laws, it said.
Zuckerberg had warned employees in late September that Meta intended to slash expenses and restructure teams to adapt to a changing market. The Menlo Park, California-based company, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, implemented a hiring freeze, and the CEO said at the time that Meta expected headcount to be smaller in 2023 than it is this year.
“This is obviously a different mode than we’re used to operating in,” Zuckerberg said in a Q&A session with employees in September. “For the first 18 years of the company, we basically grew quickly basically every year, and then more recently our revenue has been flat to slightly down for the first time. So we have to adjust.”
Even with the cuts, Meta continues to expect that losses in the Reality Labs division, which houses the metaverse investments, will grow “significantly” year-over-year in 2023, the company said in a separate regulatory filing on Wednesday.
Zuckerberg has been asking investors for patience as he pours billions into his vision for the next big computing platform after mobile phones: the metaverse, a collection of digital worlds accessed through virtual and augmented-reality devices. The effort requires intensive investment in hardware and research that may not pay off for many years from now.
Meanwhile, growth at the flagship Facebook social network is stagnating. The company is working to accelerate it, and continue to add users to photo-sharing app Instagram, by experimenting with a more interest-based algorithm and short-form videos called Reels.
Now, Zuckerberg has to pull off his major corporate transitions with fewer people.