How Meta is adjusting to a new operating model under Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership

Apr 21, 2023, 9:44 AM UTC
3 mins read
Meta's Mark Zuckerberg admits "anger and frustration" over layoffs
(Image Credit: Getty Images)

In a leaked Q&A with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, he addressed the recent layoffs of 4,000 employees, saying that the company needed to make changes as it was no longer growing as quickly as it had in the past. Zuckerberg acknowledged the frustration and anger of employees regarding the ongoing waves of mass cuts and answered questions about whether leadership was being held accountable for the company’s current position.

Zuckerberg repeatedly took responsibility for the layoffs and expressed personal regret, but largely blamed factors outside of his control for Meta’s cuts, such as Covid, the macro economy, and wars. He argued that the real “mistake” would be continuing to act as though Meta were still in a period of “hypergrowth for a lot longer.”

This new rhetoric is a sign of how much Meta’s fortunes have changed since the company formerly known as Facebook enjoyed its heyday of unstoppable growth and free spending. In recent years, Facebook and Instagram have faced stiff competition from TikTok, shrinking advertising budgets, and regulatory pressures that have slowed down business. Meanwhile, the company’s long-term bet on the metaverse is still far away from becoming a reality.

Zuckerberg’s comments come as Meta is positioning itself as entering a new chapter of its history, working under a different “operating model” marked by tighter budgets, slower hiring, and fewer layers of management. The question is whether this new era of more normal growth will be enough to sustain Meta into Zuckerberg’s promised metaverse future.

At the end of the call, Zuckerberg tried to end on an optimistic note, making the case that Meta, which is still investing in the metaverse and AI, will lead on these technologies, in part because of the company’s massive reach. Meta’s apps, like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, are used by over 3 billion people every day. He said that when things settle, Meta will be in a better position to continue executing what he thinks is one of the most transformative times in the industry in terms of new technologies getting developed.

The exchange was a reflective moment for Zuckerberg, who has been trying to change Meta’s work culture toward greater efficiency for several months. The 38-year-old repeatedly said that the company is working under a different “operating model” marked by tighter budgets, slower hiring, and fewer layers of management.

In the end, Zuckerberg’s acknowledgement of the new reality Meta is facing, his willingness to take responsibility for the layoffs, and his commitment to continuing to invest in the metaverse and AI despite the challenges the company is facing, provide some hope that Meta will weather this storm and emerge stronger on the other side.

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