OAKLAND – Facebook owner Meta Platforms told employees on Friday that it would stop developing smart displays and smartwatches and that nearly half of the 11,000 jobs it eliminated this week in an unprecedented cost-cutting move were technology roles.
Speaking during an employee townhall meeting heard by Reuters, Meta executives also said they were reorganising parts of the company, combining a voice- and video-calling unit with other messaging teams and setting up a new division, Family Foundations, focused on tough engineering problems.
The executives said that the first mass layoff in the social media company’s 18-year history affected employees at every level and on every team, including individuals with high performance ratings.
Overall, 54 per cent of those laid off were in business positions and the rest were in technology roles, Meta human resources chief Lori Goler said. Meta’s recruiting team was cut nearly in half, she said.
The executives said further rounds of job cuts were not expected. But other expenses would have to be cut, they said, noting that reviews were under way about contractors, real estate, computing infrastructure and various products.
Chief technology officer Andrew Bosworth, who runs the metaverse-oriented Reality Labs division, told staff that Meta would end its work on Portal smart display devices and on its smartwatches.
Meta had decided earlier this year to stop marketing Portal devices, known for their video-calling capabilities, to consumers and focus instead on business sales, Mr Bosworth said.
As the economy declined, executives decided more recently to make “bigger changes”, he said.
“It was just going to take so long and take so much investment to get into the enterprise segment that it felt like the wrong way to invest your time and money,” said Mr Bosworth.
Portal had not been a major revenue generator and drew privacy concerns from potential users. Meta had yet to unveil any smartwatches. Mr Bosworth said the smartwatch unit would focus instead on augmented reality glasses. More than half of the total investment in Reality Labs was going to augmented reality, he added.
Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Friday reiterated his apology from Wednesday about having to cut 13 per cent of the workforce, telling employees he had failed to forecast Meta’s first drop-off in revenue.
Meta hired aggressively during the pandemic amid a surge in social media usage by stuck-at-home consumers. But business suffered this year as advertisers and consumers pulled the plug on spending in the face of soaring costs and rapidly rising interest rates.
The company also faced increased competition from TikTok and lost access to valuable user data that powered its ad-targeting systems after Apple made privacy-oriented changes to its operating system.
“Revenue trends are just a lot lower than what I predicted. Again, I got this wrong. It was a big mistake in planning for the company. I take responsibility for it,” Mr Zuckerberg said. Going forward, he was not planning to “massively” grow the headcount of the Reality Labs unit, he added. Meta shares closed up 1 per cent at US$113.02. REUTERS