The Business Times

Zuckerberg says ‘sorry’ as Meta cuts more than 11,000 jobs

Published Wed, Nov 9, 2022 · 07:49 PM

META Platforms chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg said the company will cut more than 11,000 jobs in the first major round of layoffs in the social media giant’s history.

The reductions, equal to about 13 per cent of the workforce, were disclosed on Wednesday (Nov 9) in a statement. 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. “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 per cent 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.

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Shares rose 3.5 per cent 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.” 

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.”

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 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.

The strategy is moving more eyeballs to Reels, where Meta’s advertising business isn’t as established, costing potential revenue until the ads start succeeding. Now, Zuckerberg has to pull off his major corporate transitions with fewer people.

Meta’s reductions follow cutbacks at many other major technology companies. Corporate software maker Salesforce on Tuesday said it cut hundreds of workers from sales teams, while Apple, and Alphabet have all slowed or paused hiring.

Snap, parent of rival app Snapchat, is also scaling back, saying in August that it would eliminate 20 per cent of its workforce.

Twitter last week eliminated roughly 50 per cent of its workforce following its sale to billionaire Elon Musk. Those layoffs were chaotic, with many employees finding out they had lost their jobs when they were suddenly cut off from Slack or email. Musk said the moves were necessary to stem losses at the social network. He later asked some fired workers to return. BLOOMBERG



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