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Meta to lay off 10,000 workers as metaverse ambition wanes

Meta Platforms (NASDAQ: META) is letting go 10,000 employees just four months after the company’s biggest layoffs last November. The firm, which seems to be shifting away from its focus on the metaverse, is also set to withdraw around 5,000 open roles as CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg focuses on efficiency.

In a March 14 post shared with employees, Zuckerberg revealed that the company would announce layoffs in its tech groups in late April and then its business groups in May.

“Overall, we expect to reduce our team size by around 10,000 people and to close around 5,000 additional open roles that we haven’t yet hired,” he stated.

The layoffs align with the CEO’s pledge earlier this year to make 2023 “the year of efficiency.” He now says he’s focused on building a leaner, more technical company.

In November, Meta announced layoffs for 11,000 employees, the first major round of dismissal in the company’s 18-year history. The sacking mirrors similar moves by other tech giants amid an uncertain economic outlook. Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) has cut off 12,000 jobs, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has laid off 10,000 employees, and Salesforce (NASDAQ: CRM) is axing 7,000 jobs, among several others.

Meta’s latest layoffs come amid a wind-down of its non-fungible token (NFT) experiment. The company integrated NFTs on Facebook and Instagram progressively throughout 2022 as the popularity of these digital tokens surged. However, NFT trading volume has since dipped by over 90%, and Meta was quick to cut its losses.

Is Zuckerberg giving up his metaverse dream?

The layoffs have further thrown into question Zuckerberg’s focus on the metaverse. Over the past few years, he has increasingly invested in dominating this digital frontier, complete with a rebrand to Meta from Facebook.

However, Zuckerberg now seems to be shifting focus from his beloved project. In his March 14 post laying out the plan for the company in the next year, the metaverse featured much less than it has in the past two years.

In fact, he only mentioned it twice; once describing it as a way “to deliver a realistic sense of presence” and the other to imply Meta’s efforts in the field will define the future of social connection.

As CoinGeek previously reported, Meta’s metaverse division, Reality Labs, has been bleeding money for years. Last year, it lost $14 billion and was projected to consistently lose $20 billion annually over the next few years.

While the company has backed Reality Labs through all its losses, last month provided the first glimpse into a change in sentiment among the top brass. New CFO Susan Li revealed that the metaverse division would be put under the same scrutiny as the other parts of the company, possibly signaling budget cuts for Reality Labs.

Zuckerberg’s fascination with the metaverse is being seemingly replaced by artificial intelligence (AI). AI has dominated tech recently, with ChatGPT receiving global buzz in the past few months. Meta is fighting to stay in the AI race but seems to be losing ground to Microsoft, a big investor in ChatGPT maker OpenAI, and Google, whose Bard AI chatbot launched last month.

While the future of Meta’s metaverse ambitions hangs in the balance, the company’s layoffs have been welcomed by investors, with the company’s stock hitting a six-month high.

Meta employees aren’t as enthusiastic about the layoffs, much less their nature, with many of them reportedly asking, “‘How do you expect me to do work for the next two months while wondering if I will still have a job?’”

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