Zuckerberg leads Meta into the Next Phase of a New Stronger Universe
During the global economic slowdown, Facebook's founder pushes his company through a technological transformation at breakneck speed.
This month, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and chief executive officer of the company formerly known as Facebook, convened a meeting of his top senior officers for the social network in the San Francisco Bay Area. A "work-athon" to discuss the road map for improving the main Facebook app, which will include a revamp that will change how users browse the service, is on the agenda for today. The meeting was called at the last minute.
According to people with knowledge of the matter, Mr. Zuckerberg had been sending messages to his executives about the overhaul for several weeks before its implementation, during which he pressed them to increase the velocity and execution of their work. They said that some executives were beginning to sweat because of the unusually high level of intensity. These executives were required to read a 122-page slide deck about the changes.
According to the people, Mr. Zuckerberg and the group went over each slide in great detail during the summit, which was attended by Facebook leaders worldwide. Within a matter of days, the team unveiled an update to the Facebook app that was intended to better compete with TikTok, one of Facebook's chief competitors.
Mr. Zuckerberg is moving his $450 billion company, which has been rebranded as Meta, into a new phase at a breakneck speed. The company was formerly known as Facebook. In recent weeks, he has clarified that he will be terminating low-performing employees, reining spending, cutting back on perks, and reorganizing his leadership team. He has indicated that those who are not on board are free to leave at any time. Managers have been sending out memos to convey how seriously this matter should be taken. One of these memos, which was provided to The New York Times, was titled "Operating With Increased Intensity."
Mr. Zuckerberg, who is 38 years old, is working to shift his company's focus away from its origins in social networking and onto the immersive — but as of yet theoretical — the world of the so-called metaverse. After their platforms were plagued by privacy stumbles, harmful content, and misinformation, he and other executives across Silicon Valley who built what many refer to as Web 2.0 — a more social, app-focused version of the internet — are rethinking and upending their original vision.
This situation is similar to other bet-the-company gambles, such as when Netflix discontinued its DVD-mailing business a decade ago to concentrate on its streaming service. However, Mr. Zuckerberg is acting this way despite Meta's back not being against the wall. The company is currently facing the prospect of a worldwide economic downturn. TikTok, YouTube, and Apple are some of the companies that are closing in on the company.
However, there is no assurance of being successful. The company has been spending lavishly on the metaverse, and the economic slowdown has hurt its advertising business, contributing to a decline in Meta's profits and revenue over the past few months. Its stock price has crashed.
"When Mark gets super focused on something, it becomes all hands on deck within the company," said Katie Harbath, a former Facebook policy director and the founder of Anchor Change, a consulting firm that works on tech and democracy issues. "When Mark gets super focused on something, it becomes all hands on deck within the company." "Teams will quickly stop other work to pivot to the issue at hand, and the pressure is intense to move quickly to show progress."
Meta declined to comment. On Wednesday, the company is going to release the quarterly earnings report.
The restructuring of Mr. Zuckerberg's bench of lieutenants was the impetus for Mr. Zuckerberg's decision to begin repositioning Meta at the beginning of this year.
Sheryl Sandberg, who had been Mr. Zuckerberg's No. 2 for the previous 14 years, announced in June that she would be leaving her position in the fall. People familiar with her plans have said that despite working on the advertising systems for Facebook for more than a decade, she was less interested in doing the same thing for the metaverse.
Mr. Zuckerberg has reorganized thousands of employees into various teams for the metaverse, with the intention of directing their attention toward aspirational projects such as hardware glasses, wearables, and a new operating system for those devices.
Matthew Ball, an experienced tech executive and the author of a book on the metaverse, has stated that "it's an existential bet on where people over the next decade will connect, express, and identify with one another." "If you have the cash, the engineers, the users, and the conviction to take a swing at that, then you should," the speaker said.
The efforts, however, do not come cheap at all. The Reality Labs division of Facebook, which is responsible for developing augmented and virtual reality products, has been a burden on the company's balance sheet; the hardware division lost nearly $3 billion in just the first quarter alone.
The video app TikTok, owned by China, has successfully poached young audiences away from Meta's core apps like Instagram and Facebook. At the same time, Meta is battling the privacy changes that Apple has implemented, which have hindered the company's ability to measure how effective advertisements are on iPhones. These challenges coincide with a harsh macroeconomic environment, which has caused companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter to either stop or significantly slow the hiring process.
Therefore, Mr. Zuckerberg has put his company into high gear by communicating a clear message: It is time to accomplish more with fewer resources.
This month, Meta announced that it would be leaving some open positions unfilled, which led to a reduction in its engineering hiring goals for the year from 10,000 to 12,000 to 6,000. Formerly bloated budgets are currently being slashed, and managers have communicated that they should not anticipate an unlimited head count for their teams. In a memo, Chris Cox, chief product officer at Meta, stated that the current economic climate required "leaner, meaner, better executing teams." This statement was made a month ago.
In a meeting with employees around the same time, Mr. Zuckerberg stated that he knew that all would not receive the upcoming changes well. The employees shouldn't worry about it, he assured them.
Mr. Zuckerberg stated: "I think some of you might decide that this place isn't for you and that self-selection is OK with me." "In all likelihood, there are a number of employees at this company who have no business being here," the speaker said.
This month, another memo titled "Operating With Increased Intensity" was sent out to all of the employees working for the company. In the internal memo, a vice president at Meta advised managers to start "thinking about every person on their team and the value they are adding."
The memo states, "If a direct report is coasting or a low performer, we do not need them; they are failing this company." "As a manager, you cannot allow someone to be positive or net neutral for Meta," the author writes.
Mr. Zuckerberg directs the efforts of those still there toward the areas he believes will be of the most significant benefit to Meta in the long term. According to the memo written by Mr. Cox, which outlined six "investment priorities" for the company in the second half of this year, those "investment priorities" include the metaverse, messaging, Instagram Reels, privacy, artificial intelligence, and higher revenue from products that currently bring in little to none. Mr. Cox's memo was included in the company's earnings report for the first six months.
The low-selling products of Meta, such as the Portal video chat device, will no longer be available to consumers and will instead be marketed toward businesses. This is one of the areas in which Meta is making a pullback. According to people with knowledge of the matter, Mr. Bosworth has also halted the development of a dual-camera smartwatch, although the company is working on other prototypes of products at this time. Earlier today, Bloomberg published a report on the smartwatch.
This month, just a few days after the "work-athon" with Facebook managers, Mark Zuckerberg posted an update to his Facebook profile in which he mentioned some upcoming changes in the Facebook app. In a manner that is reminiscent of how TikTok functions, Facebook would begin directing users' feeds toward more content that was suggested to them and featured more videos.
The company Meta has been pouring much money into video and discovery to bolster its artificial intelligence and improve its "discovery algorithms." These algorithms suggest exciting content to users without requiring them to do any work to find it.
Facebook has, in the past, piloted major product updates with a select group of English-speaking users to gauge their reception before releasing them to a larger user base. The 2.93 billion people worldwide who use the social networking app will receive the update simultaneously.
Some employees at Meta have stated that it is evidence that Mr. Zuckerberg is extremely serious about business.