Meta is waging its latest round of layoffs on Wednesday, estimated to impact about 6,000 people. These cuts are part of the company's so-called "Year of Efficiency," in which Meta is being massively restructured to save money and flatten the organization structure.
Employees knew the layoffs were coming. Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in a March blog post that he would cut 10,000 jobs across two rounds of layoffs in late April and late May, even though Meta already eliminated 11,000 roles in November. This week's layoffs primarily targeted business roles, while the April layoffs impacted tech teams. Meta also stopped recruiting for around 5,000 open roles. In total, about 21,000 people have lost their jobs at Meta, reducing the company's global headcount by about a quarter since November, when the company formerly known as Facebook had around 87,000 employees.
"Since we reduced our workforce last year, one surprising result is that many things have gone faster," Zuckerberg wrote in his March blog post. "In retrospect, I underestimated the indirect costs of lower priority projects."
With thousands of team members leaving the company, morale is understandably low at Meta. Employees have waited with bated breath for months to determine whether or not they'll be out of a job -- and if getting laid off isn't stressful enough, for some employees, this could mean losing healthcare or a work visa.
Meanwhile, Meta spent $13.7 billion last year on Reality Labs, the department for its metaverse developments. Investors have been skeptical of Zuckerberg's insistence that VR and mixed reality will power the next frontier of social connection, but he has doubled-down.
“A narrative has developed that we’re somehow moving away from focusing on the metaverse vision, so I just want to say up front that that’s not accurate,” Zuckerberg said in a quarterly earnings call last month. “We’ve been focusing on AI and the metaverse, and we will continue to.”
AI is, indeed, ingrained within Meta's AR and VR research. AI also supports content moderation, algorithmic social feeds and other key aspects of Meta's technology. But while AI continues to reign as Silicon Valley's favorite buzzword, the company is further integrating this technology into established parts of its business.
In the last month alone, Meta has unveiled its own generative AI coding tool, as well as a tool for advertisers called AI Sandbox. For the longer term, Meta is working on its own custom chips and a supercomputer to support large-scale AI research. This initiative could help Meta to compete with companies like Microsoft and Google, which have similar supercomputers of their own.
If Meta sticks to its aforementioned plans, this should be Meta's last round of mass layoffs for now. For the sake of the company's remaining employees, hopefully that remains true for a while.
Meta did not respond to a request for comment.