Meta cuts hiring plans as it prepares for 'serious times'

The company has revealed that it's focusing on Reels and select products in the second half of 2022.

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In a weekly employee Q&A session, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly said the company is experiencing "one of the worst downturns [it has seen] in recent history." According to Reuters, the executive has revealed that Meta has slashed its target number for new engineers hires this year by about 30 percent. Meta previously said that it's slowing its hiring plans due to weak revenue forecasts, but now Zuckerberg has announced more details with exact figures. Apparently, from plans to hire 10,000 new engineers this year, Meta will only hire between 6,000 and 7,000.

Further, the CEO said that Meta is raising expectations on current employees and giving them more aggressive goals so that they can decide on their own if the company isn't for them. "[S]elf-selection is OK with me," he said. In a memo to employees, chief product officer Chris Cox has stressed that the company "is in serious times here and the headwinds are fierce." He also listed the company's six investment priorities for the second half of the year, starting with its metaverse initiatives Avatars and its virtual world Horizon Worlds.

According to the memo, published in full by The Verge, Meta is also aiming to monetize Reels as quickly as possible. Time spent on Reels has more than doubled around the world since last year, the memo reads, with 80 percent of that growth coming from Facebook. Cox called Reels, its short-form video format created as an answer to TikTok, a "bright point" for the company in the first half of 2022. Meta plans to continue improving the experience, including making changes to the home screen on Instagram and Facebook to incorporate the videos more natively.

In addition, Meta plans to focus on its AI initiatives, as well as on WhatsApp and Messenger in the second half of the year. It plans to test WhatApp communities before the feature launches around the world by the end of 2022. The company is also going to develop Instagram Creator channels and joinable chats, which are slated for rollout in the coming months.

Cox wrote in the memo:

"I have to underscore that we are in serious times here and the headwinds are fierce. We need to execute flawlessly in an environment of slower growth, where teams should not expect vast influxes of new engineers and budgets. We must prioritize more ruthlessly, be thoughtful about measuring and understanding what drives impact, invest in developer efficiency and velocity inside the company, and operate leaner, meaner, better exciting teams."