Facebook's parent company Meta, which has now laid off around 11,000 of its employees, hired more people than that this year alone — part of a spurt that began with the Covid pandemic in early 2020. From January to September 2022, the headcount at Meta went from 71,970 to 87,314, an increase of over 15,000.
The headcount, in fact, doubled since early 2020, when it was around 40,000 for all of Meta's products, including Instagram and WhatsApp, show its quarterly filings.
"At the start of Covid, the world rapidly moved online... Many people predicted this would be a permanent acceleration," company boss Mark Zuckerberg wrote in his statement, "I did too, so I made the decision to significantly increase our investments. Unfortunately, this did not play out the way I expected."
The headcount uptick shows how confident — or, in hindsight, how wrong — Mark Zuckerberg and his company were. In 2020, Meta hired 14,000 people; then a matching number last year.
"We're planning to hire fewer people next year," Mark Zuckerberg wrote today. "Each of you have helped make Meta a success, and I'm grateful for it. I'm sure you'll go on to do great work at other places," he said about those laid off.
In the past 10 years — during which Facebook got bigger and bigger, acquired other platforms, and became Meta — staff count at the company went from 3,200 to over 87,000. Now it's cut 13 per cent of that.
The company has been struggling with rising costs and a weak advertising market as the world suffers Covid after-effects and the Russia-Ukraine war.
Meta is only the latest tech giant to go in for downsizing after Twitter and Microsoft. Its marquee products Facebook and Insta, in particular, are facing strong competition from TikTok and other platforms.
Meta's recent share price drop and discouraging predictions for the next quarter are a result also of slowing global economic growth, concerns about dollar drain on the Metaverse project, and the persisting questions about privacy and legal regulation.