The news that Facebook owner Meta is to cut almost 500 jobs at its Irish operations has come as yet another blow to the tech sector here. It brings to just under 900 the total number of jobs that the US social media giant has cut here since November.
This round of job cuts was always going to hit Meta’s Irish staff harder than the rest. The Irish arm of the business, which started the tech downturn with more than 3,000 full-time staff, escaped relatively lightly in the first two rounds of cuts announced under the company’s resizing plan, with a handful of jobs gone in April’s round of cuts and fewer than 50 in the March cutbacks.
That was mainly due to the type of business the company does here. The first round of cuts impacted human resources and recruitment staff. The second, in which Ireland was barely touched, trimmed the technology roles; there isn’t a large technology division here to cut.
Meta does, however, have hundreds of people in Ireland employed in finance, sales, marketing, analytics and operations, along with some engineering roles. So there were always expectations of a more painful cut this time around.
But the news, when it came, must have caused a sharp intake of breath nonetheless. The 490 jobs that are expected to go amount to a cut of just under 20 per cent of the current staff numbers. In total, Meta Ireland has now seen its employee numbers fall by almost 30 per cent since the job cuts began last year. The redundancies at the business account for close to a third of the 3,000 jobs estimated to have been lost to date across the tech sector.
All in all, the reductions over the past few months have returned the Facebook owner close to its pre-pandemic headcount.
This is all part of Mark Zuckerberg’s “year of efficiency” for Meta, which will see the business trim costs as it cuts its cloth to the measure of the new economic reality – one where revenue growth fell for the first time as the Meta moneymaking machine finally seemed to lose a bit of steam.
The recent round of cuts in Big Tech were inevitable as the sector finally started to feel some pain from the economic uncertainty that had hit other businesses over the pandemic.
Meta’s woes may have been exacerbated by its decision to move away from the core social media business. Zuckerberg has been betting big on the metaverse, investing billions in the business in a bid to gain ground in what was hoped to be the next generation of the internet. Less than two years ago, the company had promised to hire 10,000 engineers to fulfil the potential of the metaverse; as of today, Meta has instead cut 21,000 jobs, about a quarter of its workforce.
Meta Ireland will continue to be the group’s international headquarters, with the operation now under the stewardship of former Vodafone chief Anne O’Leary. The company has insisted that it remains committed to Ireland and, with a significant investment in its Ballsbridge campus and a local workforce that still numbers more than 2,000, it is unlikely to up sticks any time soon.
All that will be scant comfort to the employees who have been told today that their jobs are under threat. And to the remaining staff, who will no doubt be wondering if this latest, deepest cut will be enough to get things back on track in the future.