Amidst a hiring freeze and a plummeting stock price, Meta says it is downsizing and rearranging its offices, a process they bizarrely refer to as "vibe planning."
Is Facebook about to have massive layoffs? That notion has been unthinkable for the better part of the last ten years, as one of Silicon Valley’s gaudiest success stories was valued at $1 trillion barely over a year ago, before their strange rebranding to Meta. But their pivot toward a virtual-reality “Metaverse” has coincided with a disastrous plunge in their stock price, which has lost half of its value this year, and just five days ago, CNBC wondered aloud if this wasn’t “a death spiral from which Meta can’t recover.”
You’ve got to wonder if the “death spiral” can be blamed on CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s obsessive focus on a still largely non-existent virtual reality platform, at the expense of lines of business that actually create revenue. Zuck set the table for layoffs over the summer, saying, not so diplomatically, on an all-hands call “Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here.” On another all-hands call last Thursday, TechCrunch reports Zuckerberg announced a hiring freeze.
Now Meta has another red flag indicating looming layoffs. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Meta is downsizing its offices, via a process they strangely call “vibe planning.” (That article may be behind a paywall for you, but there’s a free, syndicated version at Fox Business.)
"One of our jobs is to recalibrate our space," Meta VP of global facilities and real estate John Tenanes told the Journal. "We’re creating a smaller venue, and for the same amount of folks, but it’s a smaller venue and we’re hoping that really drives a life in the building: more energy, more activity."
Yes he also called this “vibe planning.” The specifics of this sound every bit as curious. “Meta spent about six months working with a furniture manufacturer to design specialized noise-canceling cubicles that it plans to install throughout its offices in the coming months,” the Journal explains. “The cubes should allow people to remain in the open office, but to take video calls while being less disruptive to co-workers, Mr. Tenanes said. The cubes include an audio system that could, for example, play sounds of the ocean.”
Meta did not say which offices would be downsized (they have offices all over the world now), and also tout they are adding some office space too. The Journal notes they added Manhattan and San Diego offices last month. But they’re also closing their 225 Park Avenue office in New York — and closing a Park Avenue office can certainly be interpreted as another red flag.
Facebook/Meta/whatever is not alone in trying to shed office space. And they have a pretty cushy work-from-home policy, with the Journal estimating that Facebook’s offices are only 50% full because of it. So an office downsize may make sense, but there are other elements to the bigger picture indicating that Meta could see mega-layoffs in the not-too-distant future.
Related: Zuckerberg Reportedly Getting Increasingly Snippy and ‘Intense’ In Pivot to Metaverse, Amidst Declining Profits [SFist]
Image: MENLO PARK, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 28: A sign is posted in front of Meta headquarters on April 28, 2022 in Menlo Park, California. Facebook parent company Meta reported better-than-expected first quarter earnings per share of $2.72 compared to analyst expectations of $2.56. Revenue for the quarter fell short at $27.91 billion compared to the expected $28.24 billion. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)