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‘Visibly frustrated’ Mark Zuckerberg responds to staff questions about extra vacation days

Meta stated earlier this year that it would be freezing and reducing hiring as it pivots to invest in a costly shift toward the metaverse

Johanna Chisholm
Thursday 28 July 2022 23:16 BST
Facebook rebrands as Meta, bringing products together under new name

Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg appeared visibly irritated during an employee Q&A after an employee inquired about the company’s vacation options, which had been extended at the onset of the pandemic.

While the tech titan was taking pre-recorded questions from workers at the weekly session, one employee, identified as Gary from Chicago, asked the billionaire executive if the company would continue to offer extra days off. Meta initially introduced the extra time off to help boost morale as the world began shutting down in March 2020.

According to The Verge, who obtained a recording of the 30 June meeting, the inquirer asked if Meta Days – the extra time off allotted to workers in 2020 – would be extended into 202.

“Um… all right,” the 38-year-old tech executive began, reportedly appearing noticeably frustrated. “Given my tone in the rest of the Q&A, you can probably imagine what my reaction to this is.”

Mr Zuckerberg then confirmed that Meta Days would indeed be side-tracked after this year.

Before the floor opened to employees’ up-voted questions, Mr Zuckerberg had just finished laying into his staff, warning with intense vigour about how the economy was heading into one of the “worst downturns that we’ve seen in recent history.” He also expounded on why the recently rebranded Facebook-turned-Meta would be freezing hiring in many areas.

The tech executive explained that, in order to be more “cost-conscious,” they would be reducing the hiring on low-priority projects and would be axing new-hires for the engineering team for the next year by 30 per cent – adding between 6,000 to 7,000 engineers instead of the projected 10,000.

Mr Zuckerberg also issued a foreboding warning to staff, more than hinting that employees who found themselves unable to keep up with the company’s fastening pace might also find that they’re without a job.

“Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here,” Mr Zuckerberg said on the call, The New York Times first reported.

“Part of my hope by raising expectations and having more aggressive goals, and just kind of turning up the heat a little bit, is that I think some of you might decide that this place isn’t for you, and that self-selection is OK with me,” Zuckerberg added.

Reactions from employees on Workplace, the company’s internal version of Facebook, drew widespread criticism from some, while others commended their boss for being a “war-time” leader.

“Did Mark just say there are a bunch of people at this company that don’t belong here[?]” one staffer asked on Workplace, according to The Verge.

“Who hired them?” another employee jested, while others applauded the tone shift: “This is war-time, we need a war-time CEO,” one employee wrote and another characterised his speech during the 30 July meeting as “Beast mode activated”.

Meta’s share price plummeted by more than 50 per cent from its high of last year, a shakeup that lined up with the company’s announcement last February. At the time, Facebook – the original namesake of Mr Zuckerberg’s social media platform – revealed it had lost daily users for the first time in its history.

In a statement to The Verge’s report about the comments made by the chief executive during the 30 June meeting, a representative for Meta attempted to downplay the curt delivery as being indicative of the company’s commitment to “reach goals”.

“Any company that wants to have a lasting impact must practice disciplined prioritisation and work with a high level of intensity to reach goals,” Meta spokesperson Joe Osborne told The Verge. “The reports about these efforts are consistent with this focus and what we’ve already shared publicly about our operating style.”

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