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Meta announces another 10,000 layoffs after major layoffs last fall

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Facebook parent company Meta is getting even smaller. Today it announced it's laying off 10,000 people, and that's on top of major layoffs last fall. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is calling this, quote, "the year of efficiency." NPR's Dara Kerr is here to talk about these cuts. Hi, Dara.

DARA KERR, BYLINE: Hello.

SUMMERS: So Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced these layoffs today in a public Facebook post. Tell us. What did he say?

KERR: Yes, so Zuckerberg's note to staff today was more like an essay than an update. It was more than 2,000 words and filled with jargon-like language like flatter is faster and leaner is better. And he kept hitting home on his favorite message. This is the year of efficiency. And there's this quote that everyone else is talking about. He said he's improving the company's efficiency, and that includes, quote, "garbage collecting unnecessary processes," whatever that means. This note is leaving a lot of people wondering what this billionaire CEO is thinking.

SUMMERS: OK. I mean, that's just a lot of jargon. But in that long note, are there any specifics you can point to?

KERR: Yes. Zuckerberg laid out what departments were getting cut and where his focus is. Recruiters and middle management are getting laid off starting tomorrow, and Meta will cancel low-priority projects, although Zuckerberg didn't say what those projects are. He also said these layoffs are part of a new economic reality, and he thinks that we're going to be in this reality for a while. Mainly, that means higher interest rates and what he's calling geopolitical instability.

SUMMERS: OK, and what do these cuts tell us about how things are going broadly at Meta?

KERR: Yeah, these are major, major cuts. They're the most extreme we've seen from any big tech company in the last six months. If you add the layoffs from last fall and what was announced today, Meta is cutting roughly a quarter of its staff. It's also eliminating around 5,000 additional open roles that haven't yet been filled. Some analysts are saying the steady pace of cuts could cause a lack of confidence among employees in the company's leadership, and it'll lead to low morale for those who remain. I heard from Angelo Zino, who follows Meta for CFRA research. He says it's important to keep these cuts in perspective. Meta grew its workforce drastically during the pandemic. From 2019 to 2022, it basically doubled its headcount, which is pretty common for tech companies during the pandemic.

SUMMERS: I mean, as you mentioned, we've been seeing a whole lot of layoffs in the tech industry. So how does today's announcement by Meta fit into that larger context?

KERR: Right. So the tech world has been reeling over the last few months. That's primarily because of falling stock prices. And then, you know, this past week, we saw the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, which backed a lot of tech companies and startups. And we've seen major layoffs at almost all of the top tech companies, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft and, of course, Twitter. And there's definitely a tightening of the belt that's happening across all of these companies. But it's important to note that despite these layoffs, the companies are still profitable. Facebook, for instance - its revenue dipped this past quarter, but it still posted more than 30 billion in revenue. And then there's AI. All of these tech companies are talking about AI, and in his note, Zuckerberg said Meta is no different. He said the company is looking toward the future, and AI is going to be a big part of its products.

SUMMERS: NPR's Dara Kerr. Dara, thank you.

KERR: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Dara Kerr
Dara Kerr is a tech reporter for NPR. She examines the choices tech companies make and the influence they wield over our lives and society.