Meta Employees Grill Mark Zuckerberg at All-Hands Meeting Following Layoffs

Washington Post photo by Carolyn Van Houten
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg testifies remotely before the House Judiciary Committee as seen via YouTube on a laptop in Washington, D.C., on July 29, 2020.

Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg defended his leadership of the social media giant during a staff-wide meeting Thursday morning, two days after announcing the company would be cutting 10,000 workers in a months-long restructuring and downsizing effort.

Zuckerberg was asked a question regarding how employees are expected to trust the company’s leadership after two rounds of layoffs. He said that he would expect to be evaluated based on the company’s performance and transparency about its mission but that leaders should be allowed to change their thinking, according to an audio live stream of the town hall obtained by The Washington Post.

“I would guess that the way people would evaluate whether you trust me and want to work at this company in whether we are succeeding in making progress toward the overall stated goals,” Zuckerberg said in the town hall. “I think a lot of this is about the results we are able to deliver.”

Zuckerberg also talked during the hour-long meeting about why the company announced an organization-wide restructuring and layoff plan four months after the CEO told staffers in a company-wide meeting in November that he didn’t anticipate having to make those kind of cuts again for the “foreseeable future.”

The CEO said that ultimately what changed was that he thinks that the overall economic pressures facing the company will be around for a while and that he saw the November cuts seemed to boost the company’s efficiency.

“But I think it’s a fair question,” he said.

Meta declined to comment.

Zuckerberg’s comments come two days after he announced the company would lay off more workers and close 5,000 open roles over the next few months as part of a larger effort to cut costs and flatten the company’s hierarchy in the face of mounting business pressures. The latest layoffs build on November workforce cuts that slashed 11,000 jobs, or about 13 percent of Meta’s workforce, in the first widespread layoffs in the company’s history.

Zuckerberg proclaimed earlier this year that 2023 would be the “year of efficiency” following months of declining revenue. The social media giant, which makes most of its money from digital advertising, is facing intensifying competition for advertising dollars and users from newer entrants in the social media market such as the short-form video network TikTok. The company has also acknowledged it overestimated how much the e-commerce market would grow after pandemic-era restrictions were rolled back.

During the town hall Thursday, Zuckerberg was also asked about the future prospects of remote work.

The company noted Tuesday that an early analysis showed engineers who joined the company as an in-person employee and then transferred to a remote position or who remained at the office performed better on average than people who joined the company remotely.

Zuckerberg didn’t rule out creating new rules to mandate people return to the office for a certain amount of time but said it would be an “an ongoing conversation.”

He added the company has made the decision to pause most remote hiring for now.

Another employee question regarded how they could be productive as the threat of layoffs and project cuts loomed over their heads.

Zuckerberg acknowledged that announcing the layoff plans ahead of time creates a period of uncertainty but “it’s not like we can just pause working while we are figuring this out.”

Ultimately, he said, he thought it was better for employees to hear about the plans ahead of time.