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Art by Mike Sullivan

Don’t Blame Tech Workers for Silicon Valley’s Bloated Head Counts

By  |  Aug. 3, 2022 9:15 AM PDT
Photo: Art by Mike Sullivan

A frustrated Mark Zuckerberg paused during his weekly Q&A with Meta Platforms employees. He’d just gotten through warning everyone about the punishing downturn he saw coming, and the first question he got—one that, to be fair, had been pre-recorded—asked whether Meta Days, the extra time off given to workers during the pandemic, would continue in 2023. Once he’d collected himself, Zuckerberg dismissed the question (announcing the end of Meta Days in the process) and identified a general need to crank up the pressure. “Realistically,” he said, “there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here.”

Peter Drucker once wrote: “Efficiency is concerned with doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.” Zuckerberg—like leaders in much of the tech industry—has steadfastly adhered to the former model. Shopify laid off 10% of its employees, chalking up the cuts to “convenient to have” roles it created based on a “bet that didn’t pay off” on the growth of ecommerce spending. Just yesterday, Robinhood laid of 23% of its employees because “in this new environment, we are operating with more staffing than appropriate;” between the beginning of 2020 and April of this year—when it laid of what then amounted to 9% of its staff—its headcount had grown more than five-fold. A year ago, Meta (Facebook at the time) was agonizing over supply problems in the market for engineers. Now it wants people to see themselves out.

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