SAN FRANCISCO: In one of the worst lay-offs ever in the tech industry, Meta Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday sacked more than 11,000 employees -- about 13 per cent of the global workforce - and extended the hiring freeze through Q1 2023.
The company also removed access to most Meta systems for people leaving, given the amount of access to sensitive information, "keeping email addresses active throughout the day so everyone can say farewell".
As a severance measure, the company will pay 16 weeks of base pay, along with two additional weeks for every year of service, "with no cap".
The Facebook and Instagram parent company reported over 87,000 employees (as of September).
In a statement, Zuckerberg said the company is going to take a number of additional steps to become a leaner and more efficient company by cutting discretionary spending and extending its hiring freeze through Q1.
"Today I'm sharing some of the most difficult changes we've made in Meta's history. I've decided to reduce the size of our team by about 13 per cent and let more than 11,000 of our talented employees go," said Zuckerberg.
"I want to take accountability for these decisions and for how we got here. I know this is tough for everyone, and I'm especially sorry to those impacted," he added.
The Meta CEO said that everyone will get an email soon letting them know what this layoff means for them.
"After that, every affected employee will have the opportunity to speak with someone to get their questions answered and join information sessions," he said.
Meta will pay for all remaining paid time off (PTO) time and everyone impacted will receive their November 15, 2022 vesting of shares.
"We'll cover the cost of healthcare for people and their families for six months, said Zuckerberg, adding that the company will "provide three months of career support with an external vendor, including early access to unpublished job leads".
He blamed the macroeconomic downturn, increased competition and ads signal loss for the move, saying it caused "revenue to be much lower than I'd expected".
"I got this wrong, and I take responsibility for that. In this new environment, we need to become more capital efficient. We've shifted more of our resources onto a smaller number of high-priority growth areas - like our AI discovery engine, our ads and business platforms, and our long-term vision for the metaverse," said the Meta CEO.
"We've cut costs across our business, including scaling back budgets, reducing perks, and shrinking our real estate footprint. We're restructuring teams to increase our efficiency. But these measures alone won't bring our expenses in line with our revenue growth, so I've also made the hard decision to let people go," Zuckerberg added.
His USD 10 billion a year metaverse dream has also faced criticism, even from top Meta investors.
Zuckerberg said that the layoff is especially difficult if "you're here on a visa".
"There's a notice period before termination and some visa grace periods, which means everyone will have time to make plans and work through their immigration status. We have dedicated immigration specialists to help guide you based on what you and your family need," he mentioned in a blog post.
"Outside the US, support will be similar, and we'll follow up soon with separate processes that take into account local employment laws," he added.