Mass layoffs at big tech companies have not yet finished with Facebook parent company Meta this week announcing it will cut a further 10,000 jobs from across the business as part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg is calling the "year of efficiency”.
In a post to staff, and subsequently published on Meta's website, Zuckerberg said the cuts were aimed at making “a better technology company” and to “improve [its] financial performance in a difficult environment”.
The result is another five-figure headcount reduction and the closure of another 5,000 jobs that hadn't yet been hired for.
“This will be tough and there’s no way around that,” Zuckerberg said. “It will mean saying goodbye to talented and passionate colleagues who have been part of our success.”
Meta’s upcoming restructure will happen “as soon as possible” and will begin with different organisations within Meta announcing "restructuring plans” with the focus on flattening management, cutting low-priority projects, and slowing recruitment to a crawl.
Recruitment teams are the first to go and will learn their fate this week, followed by layoffs in the technology-focused groups in April, before the business groups have their cuts in May.
Critics have labelled the layoffs as a form of social contagion which causes significant harm to those directly affected and ultimately sees businesses hire back the same staff they've laid off once the economy turns back around.
Shareholders, on the other hand, appear to look favourably on the latest spate of layoffs – much as they did with recent cuts at ASX-listed accounting software company Xero – bumping up Meta’s share price by seven per cent in the trading session that followed the announcement.
As with his labelling 2023 as the “year of efficiency”, Zuckerberg is trying to spin the cuts as part of a broader refocusing of the company – a refocus which began in 2021 when he renamed Facebook to Meta and has resulted in the subsequent spending of tens of billions of dollars trying to develop and popularise virtual and augmented reality technology.
Middle management will be heavily impacted by Zuckerberg’s efforts to “flatten” the organisation and requires managers to become “individual contributors” rather than being solely in charge of other people, as per details leaked last month.
This week, the Meta CEO publicly expanded on this “flattening” concept, saying the company will be “removing multiple layers of management” and “have individual contributors report into almost every level … so information flow between people doing the work and management will be faster”.
Certain “lower priority projects” are also going to get cut, perhaps indicating the end of experimentation and freedom within the company.
Zuckerberg explained how, for every new project, there needs to be a leader who may get taken from another team “or maybe we take a great engineer and put them into a management role, which both diffuses talent and creates more management layers”.
He goes on to detail the extra resources that projects cost, including that it might “overlap with work on another team” or build “a bespoke technical system when it should have used general infrastructure” resulting in even more resources spent deduplicating and unpicking that work.
There is also a suggestion Meta will cut non-technical roles that interface with engineering teams in order to operate with “a more optimal ratio of engineers to other roles”, potentially including departments working on ethics and social responsibility – which is exactly what Microsoft did as part of its 10,000 job cuts.
A trend toward remote work could also be coming to an end with Zuckerberg saying internal data has shown “that engineers earlier in their career perform better on average when they work in-person with teammates at least three days a week”.