Meta’s long-rumored layoffs have finally begun, and will impact roughly 13 percent of the company’s workforce, or 11,000 employees.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg sent a long letter to employees (available on Facebook’s PR website) breaking down what went wrong at the social-media giant:
“At the start of Covid, the world rapidly moved online and the surge of e-commerce led to outsized revenue growth. Many people predicted this would be a permanent acceleration that would continue even after the pandemic ended. I did too, so I made the decision to significantly increase our investments. Unfortunately, this did not play out the way I expected. Not only has online commerce returned to prior trends, but the macroeconomic downturn, increased competition, and ads signal loss have caused our revenue to be much lower than I’d expected. I got this wrong, and I take responsibility for that.”
This new, tighter environment obliges Meta to become “more capital efficient,” he added. Other cost-cutting measures, such as a reduction in employee perks and the company’s real-estate footprint, haven’t been enough: the company needs to lay off employees. (The letter didn’t really touch on Zuckerberg’s decision to spend billions of dollars on the “metaverse,” an ecosystem of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) apps that might not see a huge profit for many years, if ever.)
“We’re also extending our hiring freeze through Q1 with a small number of exceptions,” Zuckerberg’s letter added. “I’m going to watch our business performance, operational efficiency, and other macroeconomic factors to determine whether and how much we should resume hiring at that point. This will give us the ability to control our cost structure in the event of a continued economic downturn. It will also put us on a path to achieve a more efficient cost structure than we outlined to investors recently.”
In the meantime, those affected by the layoffs will receive severance equivalent to 16 weeks of base pay, plus an additional two weeks for every year served at the company; RSU vesting; six months of health insurance; and outplacement benefits. That’s more generous than the three months of severance given to Twitter employees after new owner Elon Musk slashed the company’s workforce by roughly 50 percent.
Despite the cuts, Meta’s survival will ultimately hinge on its ability to grow and innovate, which will require all kinds of specialized technology professionals. Zuckerberg is cutting at the moment, but at some point in the future, he’ll need to begin hiring again.