Tech firms slash jobs amid uncertainties: 8 high-profile layoffs in 2022

SINGAPORE – Many tech companies have slashed jobs this year to curtail ambitions and brace for tough times amid economic uncertainties, reversing their 10-year stock bull run. Here is a round-up of the layoffs announced by eight prominent technology firms in recent months.

Meta – about 11,000 jobs

The most massive of these cuts was made by Facebook owner Meta Platforms, which is shedding 11,000 jobs, or 13 per cent of its global workforce, in an unprecedented move in the firm’s 18-year history. More than 50 of the affected positions were located in Singapore.

Nearly half of all affected jobs were technology roles. The rest of the affected positions were in business and recruitment. This comes swiftly after Twitter expanded its headcount by about 60 per cent during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The social media giant in October issued a weak forecast for its fourth-quarter revenue, short of Wall Street’s expectations for earnings. The company said revenue for the quarter would be US$30 billion to $32.5 billion (S$41.2 billion to S$44.6 billion), although analysts were expecting sales of US$32.2 billion. 

Prior to this, Meta had posted two consecutive quarters of revenue declines. Revenue fell 4 per cent in the third quarter of 2022, while costs and expenses ballooned 19 per cent year on year to US$22.1 billion. Operating income for the third quarter declined 46 per cent from the previous year to US$5.66 billion.

Overall, Meta is facing a broad slowdown in online ad spending amid soaring costs and interest rates and stiffening competition from TikTok. This is exacerbated by challenges from Apple’s iOS privacy update that cut off Meta’s access to user data that powered its ad-targeting systems. Starting with Apple’s iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5, all apps are required to ask users’ permission when they want to track users across third-party apps and websites. Users can also change their preferences for any app or block apps from asking for permission.

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On Friday, Meta chief technology officer Andrew Bosworth, who runs the metaverse-oriented Reality Labs division, told employees that the firm would stop developing its Portal smart displays, known for their video-calling capabilities, and smartwatches. Meta would also be combining a voice- and video-calling unit with other messaging teams. A new division, called Family Foundations, focused on tough engineering problems would be set up. 

Twitter – about 3,700 jobs

Shortly after closing his US$44 billion purchase of social media platform Twitter in late October, billionaire Elon Musk reportedly slashed half the company’s workforce, or around 3,700 employees, to lower costs. Mr Musk said Twitter was losing more than US$4 million a day.

In July, the company reported that second-quarter revenue fell 1 per cent from a year earlier to US$1.18 billion, missing both top and bottom lines and user growth. It attributed the weak results to a weak macroeconomic environment and the online advertising market.

Mr Musk had begun dropping hints about his staffing priorities before the deal closed, saying he wanted to focus on the core product. “Software engineering, server operations and design will rule the roost,” he tweeted in early October.

The job cuts spanned various teams, such as engineering, sales and marketing. The Singapore office was not spared, although it is not known how many positions were affected.


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