How do you fire people without firing them? Ask Meta.
Meta, Facebook’s parent company, posted its first revenue decline in the quarter ended June 30, amid increasing competition from rival TikTok. To combat this pressure, Meta plans to cut costs by at least 10% in the coming months, in part through staff reductions, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the company’s plans.
But instead of handing out pink slips, Meta is reorganizing departments and giving affected employees a limited period — 30 days — to apply for other positions within the company.
While this practice has been around for a long time at the Menlo Park-based company, it was mostly used to weed out underachievers. But now “employees with good reputations and strong performance reviews are regularly pushed out,” the Journal noted.
“Many teams are going to downsize so we can shift energy to other areas of the company” — Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, July 2022
Towards silent firing
May 2022: Meta freezes hiring engineers, recruiters, and low-level data scientists.Read:The Fed sees economic pain ahead. Stock markets are feeling it now.
July: Zuckerberg tells employees to cling on for an “intense period” of 18-24 months — if not longer — adding, “I think some of you might just say this place isn’t for you. And those self-selection is okay for me.” (Managers were asked to start identifying weak performers even before Zuckerberg’s brusque speech.)
August: Meta fires 60 contractors “randomly” using an algorithm.
September: Meta is disbanding its responsible innovation team, which consisted of engineers, ethicists and academics trying to control the downsides of its products.
Human resources purgatory at technology companies
Earlier this month, Google fired more than 50 employees at its Area 120 incubator and gave them 90 days to apply and take up another position within the company.
When the search giant fired twice as many cloud workers in March, it was given 60 days to find replacement jobs internally. At that time, more than 1,400 Googlers petitioned to extend the transfer window to 180 days and asked Google to provide a better documented and structured transfer process.
Meta’s 30-day period seems paltry by comparison, even more strongly suggesting that it’s a tactic to eliminate rather than retain staff.Read:Jury awards Illinois woman $363M in suit over plant’s gas
Zuckerberg in trouble
While Meta employees lose their jobs, the CEO loses his wealth.
Things haven’t looked up since Facebook became Meta. While Facebook’s user growth has stalled and ad revenue dwindled, the slow pick-up of the metaverse with clunky hardware doesn’t make up for it. Meta’s stock has halved from a year ago.Read:Ford stock worst S&P 500 performer a day after $1 billion supply-cost warning
This wiped $71 billion from Zuckerberg’s personal wealth. In July 2021, the 38-year-old was the third richest person in the world. Now he has slipped to 20th position.
“It’s worth noting that 2022 has proved disastrous for global markets and other tech titans, but even Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos have lost far less,” according to a futurism report. “The takeaway? In the self-inflicted era of the metaverse, Zuckerberg is in big, big trouble.”
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