Meta: Mark Zuckerberg lays off again and wants a “slim” and “flatter” organization


Meta's corporate headquarters in Menlo Park, California on Nov. 9, 2022.

Ten thousand more redundancies. This was announced on Tuesday, March 14, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Meta, just four months after parting with 11,000 employees. With this second wave of job cuts, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp will have laid off 24% of its workforce. The group is also closing 5,000 open job offers for vacant positions.

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The timing can “surprise”, concedes Mark Zuckerberg in a post on Facebook, but “there is no choice”. The group, for the first time, saw its turnover decline (−1%) in 2022, due to the economic slowdown linked to the war in Ukraine, but also to competition from the Chinese social network TikTok and restrictions on targeted advertising on iPhones.

The group remains under pressure from stock market analysts, who are calling for more savings: “Further layoffs are needed to compensate for the two years of excessive recruitment”, Bank Jefferies wrote in a note in March, cited by the FinancialTimes. In the euphoria – also stock market – of digitization linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mark Zuckerberg hired 27,000 people in 2020 and 2021, and 15,000 in 2022. The workforce rose from 33,000 to 87,000 in four years.

Remove “multiple layers of management”

But, now, to this reasoning on constrained economies, the founder of Meta adds a more proactive discourse, on the supposed benefits of job cuts. He promises that 2023 must be “the year of efficiency”. “We are going to flatten our organization by removing several layers of management”, he wrote. Meta must become a business ” thinner “, he adds. For the group, “to be flatter is to be faster” And “to be thinner is to be better”, theorizes Mr. Zuckerberg.

“Each layer of hierarchy adds latency and risk aversion, in the flow of information and in the decision process”, thinks the CEO. Some managers will have to take “positions where they no longer lead and become individual contributors again”. Meta must also remain a “tech company” and increase its “ratio of engineers” in teams, believes Mr. Zuckerberg. He also says he has “underestimated the cost of non-priority projects”which consume resources and “slow down” the organization.

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We can see in this doctrine the dream of a CEO of a large multinational with growth at half mast to reconnect with the culture of a start-up. We can also detect similarities with the conception of work displayed by Elon Musk during his takeover of Twitter: the boss of Tesla and SpaceX brutally dismissed more than two-thirds of the employees and asked the rest to subscribe to a culture of work. “hard core” : all managers must code, all IT specialists must regularly show the number of lines of code produced, it is encouraged to sleep at work if necessary, etc.

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