Meta hired consultancy firm Bain & Co. before Mark Zuckerberg’s big ‘efficiency’ push, foreshadowing layoffs and cost-cutting

  • Mark Zuckerberg last year started to get serious about reducing expenses at Meta.
  • He eventually moved toward an “efficiency” mindset that led to mass layoffs.

Before Mark Zuckerberg embarked on his “Year of Efficiency” at Meta, the company brought in a well-known consulting firm to look at its costs.

In early 2022, as Meta, formerly known as Facebook, was beginning to realize the full financial impact of Apple’s privacy changes and its spending was being heavily scrutinized, the company brought in Bain & Co., according to a new Insider report on Mark Zuckerberg’s recent executive transformation. Bain is one of the “Big Three” management consultancies and a stalwart of tech consulting. It boasts a roster of nearly all of the world’s ten largest tech companies as clients.

Bain came in to analyze Meta’s cost structure, Insider reported. In the months thereafter, Meta instituted a major hiring freeze, explaining in internal memos that it was seeing slowing revenue growth for the first time. Insiders began to expect layoffs.

Before long, executives were promoting a new culture of “intensity,” with memos telling employees they needed to work harder and that perceived “coasting” would no longer be tolerated. Zuckerberg said he expected workers to “get more done with fewer resources” and that certain teams would “shrink.” Bi-annual performance reviews got tougher, and quotas were raised for the number of workers managers needed to deem underperforming. Meanwhile, the company published research on the consumer opportunity in Southeast Asia, a project done in partnership with Bain.

By November, Meta enacted its first-ever mass layoff, letting go of roughly 11,000 workers. This year the company laid off another 10,000 or so employees over three installments, although Bain was not directly involved in the cuts. Zuckerberg dubbed the whole of 2023 Meta’s “Year of Efficiency,” and recently praised the creation and launch of Threads by a small team of workers.

Despite already letting go more than 20,000 employees, or about 25% of Meta’s workforce, the company is poised to get even smaller this year. Zuckerberg’s goal for the end of this year is to level headcount closer to 60,000 employees, around the workforce it had at the start of 2020 – about 5,000 people fewer than today’s workforce, according to Insider’s report.

During a call with employees in late May, Zuckerberg said they’d seen “the last major wave of these layoffs,” but added: “It’s still going to take some time to work through this.”

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