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Twitter layoffs were bad but Meta's mass ejections could take the cake

Just in time for the holidays, a bunch of firing talk to worry Facebook crew

More Silicon Valley layoff rumors are swirling and this time it's Meta that might be planning the first broad reduction in the company's history.

While exact numbers are unknown, Meta is planning a smaller cut than the 50 percent culling Musk kicked off at Twitter last week. Still, Meta's layoff volume could be far larger simply as the result of company size. The Facebook parent employs over 87,000, according to its Q3 results, while Twitter only had around 7,500 prior to Musk's takeover.

The news was initially reported by The Wall Street Journal, which picked up the information from loquacious sources at Meta. The social giant has yet to respond to questions from The Register, and only responded to the WSJ with a referral to statements made about headcount related to Meta's Q3 earnings. 

According to the earnings [PDF], Meta plans to keep some teams at the same level, while reducing others and "making significant changes across the board to operate more efficiently." Meta plans to enter 2023 with fewer people, and by the end of next year said the headcount "will be approximately in line with third quarter 2022 levels." 

It's unclear whether returning to current staffing levels is still the plan. 

They're not layoffs until we say they are

Like many tech companies, Meta went on a hiring blitz during the COVID-19 pandemic – in 2019 the company's headcount was just over half of what it is now. Zuckerberg even admitted his teams had been too aggressive in hiring during the pandemic. Over the summer, Meta began tightening the reins on employees to force low performers out the door.

Zuckercorp has also been quietly reorganizing people out of the company by disbanding their teams and letting them time out of Meta's reapplication window without finding them a new position. While not a formal layoff, it's the same in all but name. 

To put the broader social monolith layoffs in perspective, even if Meta lays off 10 percent of its staff it would still be far more people left in the dust than Twitter fired over the weekend.

Meta had its first ever quarterly decline in Q2 of this year, and Q3 was arguably worse. Advertising changes made by Apple have also punished Meta and other big advertising networks, causing more losses for Facebook and Google while Tim Cook rakes in the ad cash.

As 2022 comes to an end, Meta's year in review is looking even grimmer: It's the S&P 500's worst performer this year, has lost nearly 75 percent of its value, recently fell out of the top 20 largest US companies and is worth just $236 billion, while last summer it had a market cap of $1 trillion. 

Just prior to Meta's Q3 earnings call, one of its investors sent an open letter to Zuckerberg, urging him to cut 20 percent of Meta's staff and reduce metaverse spending, which was reportedly scaring away investors. 

Meta refused to comment on the contents of the letter when asked previously, but it appears Zuck's been struck by at least one of its requests – according to its Q3 earnings report, current staffing levels are 28 percent higher than they were last year, just a few thousand heads shy of that 20 percent ask from investors. ®

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