Meta lays off at least 50 employees in S’pore as it cuts 11,000 jobs worldwide

The layoffs are set to affect 11,000 workers, or about 13 per cent of Facebook's parent firm’s 87,000-strong global workforce. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Global job cuts by social media giant Meta have hit Singapore, according to sources and posts on professional networking platform LinkedIn.

Over 50 affected employees here, both local and expatriate, put their names on a list created by Meta employees and shared on LinkedIn to support their retrenched colleagues’ job search.

The wide-ranging cuts appear to affect a host of departments and roles, with over half of those on the list working in recruitment, while the rest were spread across operations, sales and engineering as at Thursday evening.

The layoffs are set to affect 11,000 workers internationally, or about 13 per cent of the Facebook parent firm’s 87,000-strong global workforce.

Those laid off in Singapore found out on Thursday morning via e-mail, according to LinkedIn users who said they were affected.

“As I was getting ready to head out to the office today, I decided to check my e-mails and rotation schedule, as I would, any other day,” wrote LinkedIn user Syahid Ismail in a public post.

He identified himself as a business integrity escalations specialist at the firm on his profile page.

“That’s when I saw the dreaded e-mail and the biggest fear of my career come true. I’m one of those affected by the #metalayoffs,” he wrote, using a hashtag on the platform trending among those affected and those offering solidarity and support to them.

Also among those laid off in Singapore was Mr Alex Fenby, head of news partnerships in South-east Asia, who had worked at Meta for four years. “This is a first in my career, and presents a whole new set of emotions to work through,” he wrote on LinkedIn.

A manager based in Singapore who declined to be named told The Straits Times that the team was anxious about its fate in the last few days, after reports of impending layoffs emerged in the United States on Sunday.

Although his team turned out to be unaffected by the job cuts, he noted: “People are on edge and insecurity remains the status quo.”

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Recruiters in companies tend to bear the brunt of layoffs that follow hiring freezes as there is no work for them to do, said Ms Conny Lim, partner for digital and technology at executive search firm SRI. Meta, for instance, had a hiring freeze in place through the first quarter of 2023.

“Big tech firms tend to have a very large recruiting team in-house as they believe they have a unique culture and having such a team would help them make better hires than relying on recruitment agencies.”

Other industries that follow a similar approach include banking and finance, as well as life sciences, Ms Lim added.

As hiring freezes lift and the economy picks up, firms may rely on recruitment agencies in the interim or even get retrenched recruiters back on board on a contract basis, she said.

Although the latest figures for Meta’s Singapore workforce are not available, ST reported in 2018 that the firm had over 1,000 employees here. Its Asia-Pacific headquarters is located in Singapore’s Marina Bay financial district.

When contacted, a spokesman for the firm would only direct ST to a blog post by co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday.

Mr Zuckerberg wrote in the post that he took responsibility for the layoffs, which were needed to bring the firm’s expenses in line with its revenue growth even after cutting costs and narrowing focus onto fewer high-priority growth areas.

He said Meta significantly increased investments based on wrong predictions that outsized revenue growth driven by a Covid-19-fuelled surge in e-commerce would persist past the pandemic, a misstep compounded by the economic downturn, increased competition and tighter regulation of online ads.

The post also detailed the support available for the United States, including 16 weeks’ severance pay plus two additional weeks for every year of service, health insurance for six months and three months of career support.

Support outside the US would be similar, added Mr Zuckerberg.

The firm, which is based in California, also owns social media platforms Instagram and WhatsApp. Its share price has tumbled about 70 per cent in 2022 amid disappointing earnings as the firm makes a major virtual reality foray into the metaverse.

The job cuts follow a series of mass layoffs at other global tech firms, such as Twitter and Microsoft.

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