As big tech continues to take a battering, Meta is being forced to cut expenses by 10% after its year-on-year revenue declined for the first time on record.
To make way for these cuts, the Silicone Valley company is planning to reorganize departments and put some workers on a “30-day list” – a measure that will squeeze them out of the company if they don't find a new role within a month.
Much like its fellow tech company Google, which is currently requiring select employees to reapply for different positions to remain at the company, Meta is avoiding using the term “layoffs”. However, as the company seeks to “prioritize more ruthlessly” by investing in artificial intelligence (AI), it's clear that workers are being used as collateral.
Meta Plans on Cutting Costs by 10%
According to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal, Facebook's and Instagram's parent company is looking to cut down total expenses by 10% in the coming months, as the firm deals with a decline in ad revenue and growing competition from social media app TikTok.
By slashing spending, the company is hoping to recover some of its 22% year-on-year losses revealed in its last earning report. But with Meta's growth also stalling for the first time on record as the company continues to invest heavily in the metaverse and AI technology, it's unclear whether these scale backs are going far enough.
Sources close to Meta reveal that these cuts will see execs reorganize and downsize departments, forcing select employees to find positions elsewhere in the company. This decision came just months after Meta announced it would reduce its number of new hires, ax deals with over 50 US news partners, and make an effort to “prioritize more ruthlessly” across the business.
So, with the company explicitly avoiding using the word “layoffs”, what changes are being made to its personnel?
Meta Puts Vulnerable Workers on a “30-Day List”
Meta executives are finding savvy ways to let go of employees without formally dismissing them, according to current and former managers in the company. Sources in the Wall Street Journal explain that this is being done by giving select employees a “window to apply to other roles in the company” – a practice known by Meta insiders as being placed on the “30-Day List”.
“We’ve been public about the need for our teams to shift to meet these challenges” – Meta spokesperson
According to Meta spokesperson Tracy Clayton, by giving employees a month-long period to apply to other jobs in the company, they are able to retain talent that they might otherwise lose. However, when asked how many workers this could affect, Clayton refused to comment.
But being placed on Meta's 30-Day List is nothing new. According to its staffers, executives have been using this method on underperforming throughout the company's history. Yet, as the social media giant continues to fall on hard times, the redeployment technique is now being used on those with good reputations and strong performance reviews.
Meta isn't the only company letting go of employees through the back door. As Google encounters its own financial difficulties, the technology company has axed a number of projects and given affected employees until the end of the year to find new roles on the campus. If they fail to be welcomed into new teams, they risk being terminated from the company.
By dancing around the term layoffs, companies like Meta and Google are able to quietly disinvest in their workforces without attracting too much negative press. But while the companies make cuts to personnel, they aren't shy about investing in other areas – including in the future of AI.
Tech companies that have made lay offs made so far in 2020
Big Tech Invests in AI in Response to Downturn
As Meta's ad revenue tails, the tech giant is exploring other ways to drive in profits. Most notably, the company has been making continued investments in AI and short-form video as it faces growing competition from apps like TikTok.
“AI should help steer users across Meta’s platforms to the “most interesting content.” – Mark Zuckerberg
This AI technology is being used to refine algorithms that fuel recommendations, so Meta users are able to receive more targeted content. Speaking on the subject, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg explains “In the future, I think that people will increasingly turn to AI-based Discovery Engines to entertain them, teach them things, and connect them with people who share their interests.”
But Meta isn't alone. Other big tech companies like Google are also working to improve their AI capacity, with the search engine recently funding major AI projects in the US and across the globe.
This could well be a smart move, with AI technology proving to be one of the best ways to maximize return on investments. But with this change of tact being born from a need, rather than a desire to diversify, time will tell whether these risks will pay off.