Zuckerberg touts 'year of efficiency' as Meta lays off an additional 10,000 workers

It's the company's second slate of mass layoffs in four months.

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Meta has announced another round of sweeping layoffs in a bid to cut costs. CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company is letting go of another 10,000 workers or so and closing "around 5,000 additional open roles that we haven’t yet hired."

Meta will reduce the size of its recruiting team imminently and inform affected employees on Wednesday. The company will then announce layoff and restructuring efforts of its tech departments in late April and business teams in late May. Zuckerberg said it might take until the end of 2023 to complete the process, but the timelines might be different for Meta's operations outside the US. After restructuring, Meta plans to lift the hiring freeze.

"This will be tough and there’s no way around that. It will mean saying goodbye to talented and passionate colleagues who have been part of our success," Zuckerberg wrote. "They’ve dedicated themselves to our mission and I’m personally grateful for all their efforts. We will support people in the same ways we have before and treat everyone with the gratitude they deserve."

In addition, the company will "announce restructuring plans focused on flattening our orgs" and canceling lower priority projects, Zuckerberg said. Reports have suggested that the layoffs will impact teams working on wearable devices as part of the Reality Labs hardware and metaverse division. The "flattening" involves removing layers of management, while Meta "will ask many managers to become individual contributors" — in other words, it seems managers will have to take on some of the tasks their employees focus on.

"We still believe managing each person is very important, so in general we don’t want managers to have more than 10 direct reports. Today many of our managers have only a few direct reports," Zuckerberg wrote. "That made sense to optimize for ramping up new managers and maintaining buffer capacity when we were growing our organization faster, but now that we don’t expect to grow headcount as quickly, it makes more sense to fully utilize each manager’s capacity and defragment layers as much as possible."

In November, Meta laid off more than 11,000 people, which equated to around 13 percent of its headcount at the time. That marked the company's first round of mass layoffs.

The latest cost-cutting drive was widely expected. The Financial Times, Bloomberg and The Verge have all reported in recent weeks that more layoffs were in the pipeline. Zuckerberg, who will soon go on paternity leave for his third child, recently described 2023 as a "year of efficiency" for the company and doubled down on that in his note to employees today.

"Since we reduced our workforce last year, one surprising result is that many things have gone faster. In retrospect, I underestimated the indirect costs of lower priority projects," he wrote. "A leaner org will execute its highest priorities faster. People will be more productive, and their work will be more fun and fulfilling."

The latest layoffs follow a year in which Meta saw declines in quarterly revenue for the first time as its ad business slowed down. In October, the company also said it expected to lose more money on Reality Labs (the division that runs Meta's virtual and augmented reality initiatives) in 2023 as it continues to build its vision of the metaverse. Zuckerberg touched on this in his note, stating that "I think we should prepare ourselves for the possibility that this new economic reality will continue for many years."

Last week, Meta announced price cuts for the Quest 2 and Quest Pro headsets in an attempt to sell more units. The company recently unveiled another potential revenue stream in the form of Meta Verified, which allows users to pay for Instagram and Facebook verification along with some other perks.

Many notable tech companies have announced major rounds of layoffs over the last several months, including Amazon, Alphabet and Microsoft. Twitter has been shedding staff almost on an ongoing basis since Elon Musk took over in October. So, Meta isn't alone here, but it's the first among its peers to have a second formal round of mass layoffs since late 2022.