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Meta virtual reality interrupted by financial reality as thousands lose their jobs

Zuck's 'Year of Efficiency' starts with saving time not learning coworkers' names in case they're booted

Meta Platforms began another round of layoffs on Wednesday, focused largely on employees in technical roles.

The staff reductions were announced last month by CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an "Update on Meta’s Year of Efficiency."

"We expect to announce restructurings and layoffs in our tech groups in late April, and then our business groups in late May," said Zuckerberg.

The efficiency arrived early, in mid- rather than late-April. Reports estimate approximately 4,000 people will be let go, part of the previously announced casualty projection of 10,000.

Numerous people have posted publicly about being laid off on LinkedIn and on other forums. Among them is the head of the team focused on the well-being of Meta users, responsible for "overseeing strategy around areas that include problematic use, bullying and harassment and other key issues."

Meta reportedly has decided to merge its ad moderation and its user post moderation teams, though that group unification effort is said not to involve any job cuts.

Asked to comment, a Meta spokesperson referred to Zuckerberg's prior remarks.

Zuckerberg in March said Meta's restructuring plans would focus on flattening the organization, canceling lower priority projects, and cutting back on hiring while also reducing the company's recruiting team.

He said Meta expected to disemploy about 10,000 people and to eliminate about 5,000 positions that haven't yet been filed. We've also seen a claim that Meta has rescinded at least one job offer.

Combined with company layoffs of 11,000 announced in November, Meta's end-of-year, layoff-inclusive headcount of 86,482 should settle at around 66,000 after all the pink slips and dust have settled.

Meta workers who are in America on H-1B visas and have been laid off now have a 60-day grace period to find a new US employer or they may be required to leave the country.

Meta's Year of Efficiency was preceded by 2022, a year of revenue decline (-4 percent) and rising costs (+22 percent), partly attributable to Apple's iOS privacy changes in 2021 that reduced Meta's ad targeting revenue by about $10 billion.

The social ad biz last year lost $13.7 billion in 2022 due to its Reality Labs group, which proved efficient in its extravagant spending. Reality Labs has been tasked with building a metaverse (virtual reality headsets and worlds) business to match its parent's Meta moniker, adopted in October 2021 to shed the reputational baggage of Facebook.

As of February, Zuckerberg appeared to be more interested in AI and gaming than in an ecosystem of connected virtual universes. ®

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