After laying off thousands, Meta expects to add jobs next year

After laying off thousands, Meta expects to add jobs next year

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Five months ago, Meta Platforms Inc. finished handing out the last of more than 20,000 pink slips to employees, part of a year-long effort to rein in costs and become more efficient.

But Meta’s days of cost-cutting appear to be winding down — at least temporarily. The social media giant said Wednesday that it plans to spend more money in 2024 on hiring — particularly in the areas it considers critical.

Meta said that Reality Labs, the division responsible for building out immersive virtual worlds known as the metaverse, will probably lose even more money in the upcoming year. Meanwhile, the company said it would add workers to support “priority areas” and shift the workforce composition to include more “higher-cost technical roles.”

Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday in a call with investors that the company had a “backlog” of hiring to get through in 2024.

“Even though we’re planning to grow head count at a much slower rate going forward, the actual rate next year may temporarily be faster as we work through this hiring backlog,” Zuckerberg said.

How Mark Zuckerberg broke Meta’s workforce

Zuckerberg had deemed 2023 “the year of efficiency,” as the company sought to unwind a culture and management system used to easy money and hyper workforce growth. As part of that effort, Meta flattened the management system, cut some projects and infrastructure costs. Between November of 2022 and May of 2023, Meta slashed thousands of jobs in four rounds of layoffs.

The layoffs followed a tumultuous period for Meta’s business. The company’s user growth was sluggish in the face of intensifying competition from upstart apps like TikTok. Meta was also hurt by broader challenges in the digital advertising industry, such as new privacy rules from Apple and slowing growth in the e-commerce market.

The company said it projects expenses in 2024 to be in the range of $94 billion to $99 billion, while final costs in 2023 are expected to land in the range of $87 billion to $89 billion.

Move fast and beat Musk: The inside story of how Meta built Threads

Meta’s shares rose in aftermarket trading Wednesday after the company’s report that quarterly revenue grew to $34.15 billion, an increase of 23 percent year-over-year. Meta also said the number of people using its social media apps every day rose to 3.14 billion in September, representing a 7 percent increase from the same time period during the year prior.

Zuckerberg said that chief among the company’s investment priorities in 2024 will be artificial intelligence, where Meta will hire more engineers and build up its computing resources. Last month, the company launched conversational chatbots that allows users to find information and generate images — a partial attempt to compete with OpenAI’s popular ChatGPT amid an industry-wide boom in generative AI. The company also announced this summer that its new Llama 2 “large language model” — a highly complex algorithm trained on billions of words scraped from the open internet — will be available for researchers and companies to use freely.

Meta introduces ChatGPT competitor, AI tools amid industry arms race

Meta also plans to continue investing is its years-long effort to transform human communication by building out virtual and augmented reality powered-services. The company said Wednesday that it expects operating losses to “increase meaningfully year-over-year” because of its ongoing product development. Last month, Meta unveiled its new $500 Quest 3 virtual reality headset and the $300 second-generation Ray-Ban camera glasses.

Earlier this year, Meta unveiled a new text-based social media app, Threads, meant to compete with Twitter during its controversial period under new owner Elon Musk. The app, which has at times struggled to maintain the momentum of its early success, now has just under 100 million monthly regular users, according to Zuckerberg.

“We’re three months in now and I’m very happy with the trajectory,” Zuckerberg said. “We’re now getting to the point where we’re going to be focusing on growing the community further.”

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