Meta is pulling back its investments in a number of products, including the teams it set up early in the pandemic to compete with Zoom and build retail features, The edge has learned. In addition to a hiring freeze for certain technical positions, the company also recently stopped hiring low-level recruiters and data scientists.
While the workforce freezes have left workers fearful of layoffs, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an internal meeting of all people on Thursday that no job cuts are planned. “I can’t sit here and make a permanent, ongoing promise that if things change, we don’t have to rethink that,” Zuckerberg said, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by The edge† “But what I can tell you is that from where we are now, our expectation is not that we will have to do that. And instead, what we’re actually doing is we’re taking growth to the level that we think will be manageable over time.”
Here’s what that callback looks like so far: Meta’s leaders have started telling specific teams in recent days that they can’t hire new technicians or receive internal transfers. It’s a sign that those particular products aren’t making money or aren’t strategic enough to keep investing in, while Meta’s stock price is down 43% this year. Product teams have already been hit by a technical outage, including Facebook Dating and Gaming, Messenger Kids, the Commerce team and the Remote Presence team created during the pandemic to develop video and audio calling features to better compete with Zoom .
Joe Osborne, a Meta spokesperson, confirmed that the engineer is hiring pullbacks for the specific teams, and said the company is still actively recruiting for machine learning and AI roles. “As we said in our recent earnings, we are evaluating and pushing key priorities across the business, especially as they relate to our core businesses and Reality Labs,” he said in a statement shared with The edge†
Inside Reality Labs, which makes the metaverse software and hardware that Zuckerberg is betting the company’s future on, CTO Andrew Bosworth recently told employees that some projects are being prioritized in favor of others, as first reported by Reuters† No employees will be moved from the division, which already has more than 17,000 people in total, and the specific team changes have not yet been communicated internally.
Meta has been hurt by a combination of the rise of TikTok, a wider sell-off of technology stocks, and Apple’s changes in ad tracking costing the company billions of dollars in lost ad revenue, Zuckerberg told employees last week. At the same time, he tried to assure them that the company, with its rich balance sheet and billions of dollars in quarterly earnings, is in a strong position to navigate what many on Wall Street believe could be a protracted stock market downturn.
“Whenever we lower our growth targets, I think you always hear a lot of speculation like, ‘Okay, are we in trouble? Or is something more dramatic going to happen?’” he said during the internal meeting of all hands. “And look, if everything went exactly as we planned, of course we wouldn’t change this. But I do want to make it clear that we are in a very strong position and have a very healthy business, and we are still growing fast.”