Meta plans to cut more than 10% of its UK workforce and abandon Instagram’s new London hub as the social media group withdraws from the UK capital as part of its latest restructuring effort.
An internal document sent to staff on Wednesday said at least 687 jobs would be cut, mostly in London, with even more among its UK staff of around 5,000 at risk of being made redundant.
The biggest cuts will hit Instagram’s London team, with 250 jobs to be cut, although others will have the option of moving to New York. The photo app will continue to be based at Meta’s main offices in Menlo Park, California.
The shakeup comes less than a year after Meta began setting up a major hub for Instagram in London, with its chief, Adam Mosseri, moving to the UK capital to boost staff and build the scale to rival a fast-growing rival. ICT Tac.
The move comes after Meta said it planned to cut more than 20,000 jobs over the past few months as part of cost-cutting measures described by chief executive Mark Zuckerberg as a “year of efficiency”. The company employed approximately 86,000 people worldwide at the end of 2022.
With UK operations having survived the brunt of the initial layoffs, Meta has now begun to target one of its largest international offices.
“London got off lightly in the first round of cuts, perhaps because of the jobs laws here. Now that they’ve made the deep cut in the US, they need to apply it more evenly,” said a former UK-based Meta director.
Just eight months after arriving in the capital, Mosseri told staff on Wednesday that Instagram’s London hub would soon cease to exist.
He added that he had secured the budget to relocate London-based employees to Instagram’s offices in New York, and he expected there to be more jobs than employees willing to move. , according to employees present at the meeting.
“Adam was often in the office and worried that Meta was too US-centric. He was trying to change that and was forced to give up by higher powers,” an Instagram employee said.
Another said Mosseri was angry at the decision to leave London and was reluctant to bring his family back to the United States. Meta told the Financial Times that her move to the city was still temporary.
The upheaval comes as a combination of rising inflation and other macro issues, along with disruptive changes to Apple’s privacy rules, have prompted investors in recent months to ask the social media company $551 billion to get its finances under control.
Zuckerberg’s long-term plan to build an expensive avatar-filled metaverse that wouldn’t pay off for many years has also caused consternation among investors. After a stock selloff in 2022, its shares are up more than 70% year-to-date to $215, but remain below their 2021 peak during a pandemic boom.
UK Meta’s cuts will also affect around 55 jobs at apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook, as well as nearly 60 at its Reality Labs, responsible for delivering the metaverse, and its artificial intelligence teams, according to the internal memo. .
Other areas affected by job cuts included monetization and advertising, as well as data scientists, designers and user experience researchers.
Three insiders have described London’s job cut strategy as a “dispersal approach”, randomly picking teams to lay off.
A former engineering manager said: “There is no logical explanation as to why some teams are impacted. Low performers kept jobs while high performers lost jobs simply because they were on the wrong team.
Although staff were told they could relocate or apply for other positions at Meta, some managers recommended at-risk employees start looking for jobs outside the company. A consultation process has been launched to specify which personnel will remain within the group.
“We don’t feel so safe,” said an Instagram employee who is considering a move but worried about having a Meta-bound work visa during a time of instability.
Instagram’s London office was its first international building, established in 2013. Since then, the city has become an important location for Meta, housing its largest engineering base outside of the United States.
Mosseri joined Facebook in 2008 and led the team that built its News Feed. He was named head of Instagram in 2018 when the app’s original co-founders left the company.
His ambitions included hiring a large team with multiple levels of seniority, but those hopes were dashed after Zuckerberg vowed in February to cut “middle managers”. . . to make decisions faster.
The result has been mixed teams working in different countries, with an unclear line of command and low morale with very little work done, according to several current employees.
“Mark emphasizes face-to-face. He wants people to come back to the office under his control,” an Instagram employee said.
Despite this, Meta has “shrinked” its “real estate footprint” to reduce costs and reduced its presence in rented offices in the United States. As it opened new offices in King’s Cross in central London in March last year, it is looking to sublet a 310,000 square foot office in Fitzrovia which it rented in 2021 and in which he never moved in.
Additional reporting by Hannah Murphy in San Francisco.
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