November 28, 2023

“Raise your hand if you know who got fired?” a Meta employee wrote this month in an online chat group for the company’s engineers. “If you think it’s a dumpster fire, light the emoji.”

In response, his colleagues posted dozens of tiny flame emojis.

“I’ve been laid off,” added a former Meta employee who worked in the company’s business unit for nearly four years before most of his team was laid off this year. “But who can follow?”

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has declared 2023 to be his company’s “Year of Efficiency.” So far, efficiencies have translated into mass layoffs. He has made two rounds of layoffs in the past six months, cutting more than 26,000 jobs, or nearly 30% of the company’s workforce.

Meanwhile, some of Meta’s top executives have moved away and are running much of the Silicon Valley company from their new homes in places like London and Tel Aviv.

Layoffs and absent leadership, along with concerns that Mr. Zuckerberg is making poor bets on the future, have hit Meta staff morale, according to nine current and former employees and a review seen by The New York Times.

Employees at Meta, not long ago one of the most desirable places to work in Silicon Valley, now face an increasingly precarious future. The company’s shares have fallen 43% from their peak 19 months ago.More layoffs, Mr. Zuckerberg explain On his Facebook page, it will be available this month. Some of those layoffs may be the first in engineering, something unthinkable before the problems arose last year, two employees said.

“A lot of employees feel like they’re in a state of uncertainty right now,” says Erin Sumner, director of global human resources. delete me, who was fired by Facebook in November. “They said it was ‘The Hunger Games’ crossed with ‘Lord of the Flies,’ and everyone was trying to prove their worth to management.”

Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, isn’t the only big tech company stopping spending. In recent months, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Salesforce and others have laid off thousands of workers, cut office space, eliminated perks and pulled out of experimental programs.

But Meta seems to face the most challenges. Last year, the company reported consecutive quarters of declining revenue — the first time since it became a public company in 2012.

While Meta’s peers are chasing the wave of innovation in artificial intelligence, Mr. Zuckerberg is betting big on the immersive online world of the metaverse. But it’s unclear whether consumers will embrace his vision the way he hopes. While the company has sold 20 million virtual reality headsets — more than any other company producing similar technology — it has struggled to keep customers coming back to the product on a regular basis.

Many Meta employees were already skeptical of Mr. Zuckerberg’s move to the Metaverse. These concerns have intensified as consumer enthusiasm for virtual worlds has waned, the employees said.

Concerns were heightened by the absence of many senior executives at Meta’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California. Mr. Zuckerberg, 38, is on parental leave after the birth of his third child, but meets regularly with executives on important topics, three Meta employees said. (Artificial intelligence is at the top of that list.)

Although Mr. Zuckerberg has encourage Rank-and-file employees returned to corporate headquarters, and several of his top lieutenants had moved out.

Naomi Gleit, one of Meta’s first employees and current head of product, recently moved to New York to join three other Meta senior managers and executives. Meta’s chief information security officer, Guy Rosen, moved back to Tel Aviv, where he lived after his company, Onavo, was acquired. Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, lives in London. Meta’s chief operating officer, Javier Olivan, splits his time between Europe and Silicon Valley.

While executives have been attending Meta’s weekly meetings via video chat, people have already felt they were not in the Menlo Park office, employees said, especially after Mr. Zuckerberg recently emphasized that he wants employees back in the office.

A Meta spokesman said its executives continued to make regular trips to the Silicon Valley office.

Within Meta, there was pressure to demonstrate that people were working hard, two employees said. Management consultancy Bain and Company is assisting with the recent scrutiny of workplace reviews. Employees, especially middle managers, are asked to justify why their work is critical to Meta’s goals.

Some employees are trying to appear busier, two of the people said. It makes people more possessive of their jobs, which means less collaboration with colleagues, the people said. One person described the atmosphere as “cruel”.

Meta declined to comment on internal matters.

While the first two rounds of layoffs mainly affected business and recruiting teams, this month’s layoffs were expected to hit technology departments first, including engineers, which surprised employees, said four employees who were not authorized to speak to reporters. Insiders expect engineering cuts to hit teams within WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook, they said.

During a regular question-and-answer session with employees this year, Mr. Zuckerberg said there was no “perfect way” to cut jobs and that he would rather provide more information about upcoming layoffs as news. The cuts began leaking to the media.previous information Report During the meeting.

Meta employees created memes and inside jokes about the time employees had left. In messaging groups and workplace chats, they have been using the skull emoji to signal to each other in recent weeks that they may be involved in layoffs, according to screenshots seen by The New York Times.

Those who remained complained about reduced bonuses and allowances. An engineer creates a bot that automatically calculates the loss in value of the Meta stock held by employees as part of their compensation package.

The company has also cut some of the lavish perks once considered necessary to attract top talent. Last year, Meta ended its free laundry service for employees and delayed dinner service until evenings — a way to reduce employees loading up on free food to take home.

Workers have complained in internal chat rooms that the company is cutting amenities. One gets frustrated because there’s no cereal in worker’s office, and ‘micro kitchen” No regular restocking. Many feel that cafeteria selection has gone downhill.

Staff travel expenses are also under greater scrutiny and staff are being asked to reduce non-essential travel.

In Meta’s popular messaging product WhatsApp, insiders expect fewer layoffs and structural changes on the business side than in other parts of the company, two current employees said. Mr Zuckerberg wants to accelerate the pace of delivering new revenue-generating features in WhatsApp, which he bought nine years ago for $19 billion.

While employees complain that Mr. Zuckerberg doesn’t listen enough, he still surprised some this year when he joined the Metamates (the employee’s name) discussion group.

Two employees who witnessed the exchange said workers were gossiping about a recent news article that mentioned Sergey Brin and Larry Page returning to Google to assist with the company’s artificial intelligence strategy. One employee joked that the founder’s return might inspire Mr. Zuckerberg to return to Facebook programming.

Mr. Zuckerberg then replied to employees that they had no idea he was lurking in the discussions.

“I never left,” he wrote.

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