Meta’s layoffs leave some ex-employees feeling ‘better about being done’

Meta (META) conducted its latest round of layoffs this week, the final phase of a series of cuts outlined in March by CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

This brings the total number of employees let go from the company since November 2022 to 21,000.

This round hit employees in areas of the business like engineering, marketing, and user experience. Reality Labs was affected, and even those working in AI and machine learning weren’t necessarily safe.

Amid these layoffs, day-to-day life at Meta has grown to be more tense and less personal, several employees told Yahoo Finance. All of the employees Yahoo Finance spoke with had joined within the last three years. Meta declined comment for this story.

The change began when former COO Sheryl Sandberg left the company in August, said one laid-off employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“The culture change really involved this shift from long- and mid-term investments to short-term goals,” the former employee said.

This employee added that internal chats between teams had become increasingly fraught as people grew more determined to illustrate their value. “How do we get [daily active users] up? How do we get people to spend more time on the app?” are the questions this person said are most pressing at the company today.

Meta Platforms Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg leaves federal court after attending the Facebook parent company’s defense of its acquisition of virtual reality app developer Within Inc., in San Jose, California, U.S. December 20, 2022. REUTERS/Laure Andrillon

As managers were also affected by Meta’s restructuring efforts, the employee said they and some of their colleagues taken to calling these layoffs “The Flattening,” a reference to the M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 movie “The Happening” and a nod to Zuckerberg’s assertion the company needs to get more efficient with fewer middle managers.

In the end, this round of layoffs encapsulated how Meta’s been changing, the employee said.

“I woke up in the morning, saw the email, and my manager reached out to me — but refused to get on a Zoom call with me, saying we should email [instead],” they said.

“I could never imagine that happening when I joined a year ago. This made me feel better about being done with Meta, and I was thinking, ‘Wow, maybe I don’t want to be apart of this.'”

Wall Street, for its part, has rewarded Meta for its cost-cutting efforts with the company’s stock up more than 110% so far this year.

In its latest earnings report, Meta slashed $10 billion from its expense guidance for 2023, noting not only a pullback on its spending for staff but a paring down of its real estate portfolio as well.

“The goals of our efficiency work are to make us a stronger technology company that builds better products faster and to improve our financial performance to give us the space in a difficult environment to execute our ambitious long-term vision,” Zuckerberg told analysts on the company’s earnings call last month.

“When we started this work last year, our business wasn’t performing as well as I wanted, but now we’re increasingly doing this work from a position of strength. Even as our financial position improves, I continue to believe that slowing hiring, flattening our management structure, increasing the percent of our company that is technical and more rigorously prioritizing projects will improve the speed and quality of our work.”

Allie Garfinkle is a Senior Tech Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @agarfinks and on LinkedIn.

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