After laying off nearly 10,600 people in recent months, the CEO said “this has been a particularly thrashy period” in a leaked Q&A.
Meta laid off 5,100 more employees on Wednesday in its third round of mass cuts in the past three months, according to executive remarks in a company meeting on Thursday. That brings the company’s total layoffs to 10,600 in the first half of 2023, as part of Mark Zuckerberg’s planned “year of efficiency” to cut costs, shake up company culture, and narrow focus in response to slower growth in the tech industry. The company has also closed 5,300 open roles, Meta’s head of people, Lori Goler, told employees.
The company’s executives announced details about the layoffs on Thursday morning in a Q&A with employees that Vox obtained a recording of.
“We’re saying goodbye to a lot of really talented people who’ve been part of this company,” said Zuckerberg in his opening remarks, before telling remaining staff that “the bottom line is that you’re here today.”
“I know that this has been a particularly thrashy period,” he said. “My hope is to provide as much stability moving forward as possible.”
A spokesperson for Meta declined to comment.
Zuckerberg has his work cut out for him to return Meta’s company culture to a state of normalcy after months of layoffs that have tanked employee morale, leaving many uncertain about their futures and some reportedly unsure of what to focus on. The CEO is hoping the worst is behind his company. While he wouldn’t rule out future layoffs, especially smaller ones, he said this was the last planned mass wave for now. Zuckerberg also said that employees would receive an update about return-to-office plans in the coming weeks giving more “consistent expectations and guidelines” around when and how often employees need 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.
Meta’s continued downsizing is one of the starkest examples of how many major tech companies are tightening their belts after nearly two decades of uninterrupted growth. Silicon Valley as a whole has been going through an economic downturn that has caused major tech firms like Meta to drastically cut back on employee staffing and benefits. While Wall Street has responded positively to Meta’s cuts, the layoffs have taken a toll on Meta’s workforce.
“Restructuring is obviously a very difficult thing,” Zuckerberg said in response to a question about how Meta can rebuild its culture. “So it’s not like you can bounce back immediately. And in some ways, my goal has been to change our culture.”
He added that Meta could more easily shift to a “scrappier” work culture with a smaller staff.
“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 mood of it,” said Zuckerberg. “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.”
From 2019 to 2022, Meta nearly doubled its headcount. But that’s when the company’s profits and user engagement were soaring. That started changing last February, when Facebook, for the first time, reported a decline in total users, and the advertising industry as a whole — the company’s main line of business — started to slow down. In recent months, some employees have openly questioned Zuckerberg and company leadership about whether they should be held accountable for decisions that led to the mass cuts.
Zuckerberg first announced in March that the company planned to eliminate 10,000 positions by the end of May, after previously cutting 11,000 in November. Last month, Meta cut around 4,000 of those planned 10,000 positions, leaving about 6,000 positions potentially on the chopping block this round. At the end of 2022, Meta, which is the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, had around 86,000 employees.
Last year was arguably the most brutal in Meta’s nearly 20-year history. Meta has been making somewhat of a comeback financially, however. It had stronger-than-expected earnings last quarter, and its stocks have recovered from historic lows. But now, Zuckerberg needs to make a comeback with his employee culture, too.
Update, May 18, 6:30 pm ET: This story, originally published on May 18, has been updated to include additional details about the layoffs after they happened.