Leaked Q&A unveils Zuckerberg's bittersweet goodbye as Meta's 'thrashy' layoff era comes to an end
According to statements made by executives during a company meeting on Thursday, Meta implemented its third round of mass layoffs, affecting an additional 5,100 employees on Wednesday. With this latest round of cuts, the total number of employees laid off by the company in the first half of 2023 reaches 10,600. These layoffs are part of Mark Zuckerberg's strategic initiative known as the "year of efficiency," aimed at reducing costs, reshaping the company culture, and refocusing efforts in response to slower industry growth.
Vox obtained a recording of a Q&A session held by the company's executives on Thursday morning, during which they disclosed information about the layoffs. “We’re saying goodbye to a lot of really talented people who’ve been part of this company. The bottom line is that you’re here today. I know that this has been a particularly thrashy period. My hope is to provide as much stability moving forward as possible,” said Zuckerberg in his opening remarks.
Zuckerberg had his work cut out for him to restore Meta's company culture to a state of normalcy after months of layoffs that had severely impacted employee morale, leaving many uncertain about their futures and some reportedly unsure of what to focus on.
The CEO was hopeful that the worst was behind his company. While he didn't completely rule out the possibility of future layoffs, especially smaller ones, he stated that the recent mass wave was the last planned for now.
Zuckerberg also mentioned that employees would receive an update about return-to-office plans in the coming weeks, providing more "consistent expectations and guidelines" around when and how often employees needed to be in the office in person. ”We want to get a more of a critical mass of people in-person together in the offices a few days a week,” Zuckerberg said, reported Vox.
Meta's ongoing downsizing was one of the most notable instances showcasing how numerous major tech companies tightened their belts after nearly two decades of uninterrupted growth. Silicon Valley as a whole experienced an economic downturn, leading prominent tech firms like Meta to significantly reduce employee staffing and benefits. While Wall Street reacted positively to Meta's cuts, the layoffs had a detrimental impact on Meta's workforce.
“Restructuring is obviously a very difficult thing. So it’s not like you can bounce back immediately. And in some ways, my goal has been to change our culture,” Zuckerberg said in response to a question about how Meta can rebuild its culture. He further mentioned that with a smaller staff, Meta could transition more smoothly to a "scrappier" work culture.
“We were this big company, and I think we were getting a bit more bureaucratic. Part of the point of some of this restructuring is to break up the mode of it. So yeah, I mean, some teams are maybe a little smaller now than [they] would be comfortable [with], and that causes issues in some ways for sure. But in other ways, I think it just forces us to find ways to be scrappy, or get things done more efficiently, and that means that there are going to be fewer environments or projects where there are too many cooks in the kitchen,” said Zuckerberg, as per the same report by Vox.
Between 2019 and 2022, Meta witnessed a significant increase in its headcount, nearly doubling the number of employees. However, this expansion coincided with a period of remarkable profits and user engagement for the company.
The situation began to shift in February of the following year when Facebook, for the first time, reported a decline in total users, and the advertising industry, which served as the company's primary source of revenue, started experiencing a slowdown. As a result, in recent months, certain employees have openly raised questions to Zuckerberg and other company leaders regarding accountability for the decisions that ultimately resulted in the widespread layoffs.