Meta wants to enter the cryptocurrency market with this plan. Or Lasso, an app that Meta is trying to surpass TikTok. There’s Shops, a store feature on Instagram (with which Meta wants to turn Instagram and Facebook into e-commerce giants), its podcast program, its video chat device Portal, and its Meta smartwatch project, which wants to compete with the Apple Watch, among others. Project plans have all failed.
In order to make Meta an all-purpose platform, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has invested a lot of manpower and resources in various projects. But the company leaves nothing behind except for the employees who joined these programs.
On Wednesday, Zuckerberg announced the largest layoff in Meta’s history: a total of 11,000 people, or about 13% of the company’s workforce, and nearly triple the number of layoffs at Twitter. Twitter fired 50% of its workforce on November 4. Zuckerberg blamed the layoffs on his incessant investments and a crunch in advertising revenue caused by Apple’s decision to let users manage their personal information.
But that’s only part of the reason, according to company insiders and those with knowledge of the company’s business from the outside. Today’s layoff news isn’t just due to the pandemic, a former Meta employee with knowledge of the company’s operations said he left shortly before the layoffs were announced, speaking on condition of anonymity. The layoffs may be the result of an expansion of the company’s programs over the past five to 10 years, dating back even before Zuckerberg’s obsession with the metaverse. Some of the losses can be attributed to a slew of risky and little-rewarding projects over the years at the parent company of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, the former employee said. “I really can’t think of a single successful Meta app or feature in the past five years that wasn’t acquired,” the former employee said. He then mentioned Stories, a feature itself borrowed from Snapchat.
The former employee also said that these projects, which are not part of Meta’s core business, are dragging the company down — which is why so many layoffs have been made this week. If every innovative attempt fails and is eventually called off, attrition occurs, a reduction in headcount that increases over time. “We’ve just launched a massive blockchain project initiative that requires hundreds of employees, if not more. What will those employees do after this project stalls? They’ll just stay and do other experiments and research.” The former employee also cited communication problems within the company that suggest employees are just a An obscure working machine.
The new program helped Facebook rapidly build up its workforce. One of the largest companies in the world, Meta is well-funded and has huge plans that touch every aspect of consumers’ lives, and the company, formerly known as Facebook, has made massive hiring. In 2017, Meta employed 25,000 people. Before the layoffs, the company had 87,000 employees. The company’s workforce has grown by an average of 28% annually over the past five years. Even after the layoffs, Meta still has three times as many employees as it did in 2017. “They’ve overhired a lot and are trying out a lot of different new projects,” said Bill George, a senior fellow at Harvard Business School. Mark Zuckerberg has no idea what he wants from his company. George pointed to the rebranding of Facebook as Meta as an example of the uncertainty about the company’s future direction: The name change signals that perhaps Zuckerberg feels that Facebook and Instagram and WhatsApp are irreversibly drifting apart, while He wants to move to VR. But that apparently hasn’t paid off. Meta did not immediately respond to this comment.
“Meta’s layoffs are an ominous omen for Zuckerberg’s dark days ahead,” said Dan Ives, managing director and senior equity analyst at Wedbush Securities. He and Harvard’s George both questioned Zuckerberg’s decision to go all-in on the metaverse. George said:
He also said that other tech companies have successfully separated the roles of founder and CEO, including Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and Oracle. Mark can focus on fulfilling his expectations for Meta, but at the same time, someone has to run the business better, and many of the company’s advertising partners are ending, and advertising is the source of Meta’s revenue.
The former employee believes that Meta’s unbridled expansion and the ghost employees left inside the company have been Meta’s fatal flaw. “Companies have been growing and no one has really thought about: Why do we keep expanding? Do we really need to hire new people, or are we just hiring for the sake of hiring?” he said.