Meta continues Silicon Valley layoffs trend

This Wednesday is a particularly difficult hump day for those who fell victim to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s overestimation of the e-commerce boom and how many people would care for the metaverse. And it’s not because the in-office coffee is bad or meal-prepping leftovers has gotten tired; instead layoffs are continuing, according to a memo viewed by Bloomberg. Telling managers to brace for announcements today, Zuckerberg’s memo said Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Reality Labs will be in the firing line. 

Meta is far from the only company in Silicon Valley to issue mass layoffs during the past year, but as each CEO takes a turn at letting go of workers, they’ve all found their own grooves. In vogue is the remote layoff, though some leaders like Elon Musk will send an email late at night, and others like Zuckerberg will hold a stilted Zoom meeting. Either way, even if executives think these layoffs make them look badass, they largely just end up ineffective when it comes to the costs supposedly saved, workplace experts say.

This is far from Zuckerberg’s maiden voyage when it comes to layoffs. In November, the CEO cut 11,000 positions, effectively making 13% of his workforce walk the plank of the good ship Meta, which has sprung a few leaks of late. During March, he cautioned that there were more to come, specifically setting out plans to lay off 10,000 workers, and to implement a hiring freeze as the cherry on top. According to Bloomberg, this Wednesday is just part of that 10,000, and another round is expected in May.

It’s all part of Zuckerberg’s “Year of Efficiency,” which he has manifested for Meta’s 2023. On its face, this involves eliminating projects that aren’t performing or may no longer be as crucial in favor of focusing on increasing efficiency within essential projects, but what it looks like beneath the surface is giant cuts to the workforce. When he announced Meta’s massive layoff wave in November 2022, Zuckerberg joined the likes of Elon Musk, who famously sacked half of Twitter soon after overpaying by about $20 billion for the social media firm. Musk’s attempt to be seen as a cutthroat CEO has yet to lead to actual success as the company with dwindling staff has reported woes such as outages and glitches. 

But other tech execs soon followed suit, as Amazon added 9,000 job cuts in March to its previous plan to lay off 18,000 employees, Google having announced it was cutting 12,000 jobs in January. Fellow tech giant, Apple largely has been staving off mass job cuts, opting for CEO pay cuts instead and a tiny layoff in the corporate retail division.

While Zuckerberg was an early mover in the massive layoff game, he’s now following a trend with his preference to get rid of workers remotely. As with the recent examples of McDonald’s and Google, Meta is going to declare redundancies remotely. The memo asked that workers in North America work from home on Wednesday. Other companies that conducted remote layoffs suggested that it saved employees from unneeded humiliation and provided more comfort. Meta did not comment on the recent memo but referred Fortune to Zuckerberg’s memo that provided an update on his year of efficiency.

Oddly enough, despite all the popular kids in the tech world going in for layoffs, they may want to think beyond the latest fad. Much like how chunky highlights and spiked hair used to be “in,” just because something is trending doesn’t mean it’s good. Likely a lot of what’s happening is about investor pressure, says UPenn Wharton School management professor Peter Cappelli, and layoffs don’t usually help reduce costs. 

At one point layoffs used to be all temporary, and mainly focused on blue-collar employees that were unionized and contracted, explains Cappelli. “Permanent layoffs are a pretty new idea post-1981,” he says, adding that “a bunch of studies” on them haven’t shown that they are cost-effective or productive. Delaying layoffs, like Apple is, can be helpful since Cappelli describes that an investment now can be paid off in the long run as executives don’t have to rush and train people to hire like their competitors when there’s an upturn in the market.


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