Meta denies report that Mark Zuckerberg is set to resign

Earlier this month, CEO announced mass layoffs amid declining revenue

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive and founder of Meta. AP
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Meta's head of communications on Tuesday dismissed a report saying that Mark Zuckerberg would resign from his chief executive position next year.

Online news platform The Leak cited an unnamed source in its report about Mr Zuckerberg's departure, saying the purported step down would “not affect the metaverse”.

But Meta communications director Andy Stone said in a tweet on Tuesday that the report about Mr Zuckerberg was false.

Despite future uncertainties and shareholder concerns, Mr Zuckerberg has been resolute in aggressively moving towards achieving his metaverse goals, which have caused a significant decline in company profits this year.

In June, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, unveiled four virtual reality prototype displays for research purposes as it seeks to achieve the full potential of metaverse technology, which advocates claim will be become the future of business and human interaction.

Earlier this month, Mr Zuckerberg announced the company was laying off 11,000 employees — equivalent to 13 per cent of its workforce — amid declining revenue.

Meta had more than 87,000 employees at the end of September. Its share price, down more than 67.4 per cent since the start of the year, was trading at $110.23 a share as of 12.20pm New York time.

Last month, it reported a 52 per cent annual drop in third-quarter net profit as it recorded its second consecutive quarterly revenue decline, underpinned by a decrease in the average price per advertisement.

Net profit for the three-month period to the end of September skidded to about $4.4 billion, nearly $4.8 billion less than the same period a year earlier.

The social media company's revenue dropped nearly 4 per cent annually to about $27.7 billion in the third quarter.

The company’s reality labs business — which include the metaverse, augmented and virtual reality-related consumer hardware, software and content — recorded a 49 per cent yearly drop to $285 million in the third quarter

The report of the chief executive's potential departure came after last month’s open letter by Brad Gerstner, whose fund Altimeter Capital owns a good stake in Meta shares, to Mr Zuckerberg.

“Meta has drifted into the land of excess — too many people, too many ideas, too little urgency. This lack of focus and fitness is obscured when growth is easy but deadly when growth slows and technology changes,” Mr Gerstner said.

“But Meta needs to get its mojo back. Meta needs to rebuild confidence with investors, employees and the tech community in order to attract, inspire and retain the best people in the world. In short, Meta needs to get fit and focused.”

Earlier this month, Mr Zuckerberg said he was reviewing the company's infrastructure spending as part of wider plans for Meta to be more efficient.

“We are making all these changes for two reasons: our revenue outlook is lower than we expected at the beginning of this year, and we want to make sure we are operating efficiently across both Family of Apps and Reality Labs,” he said.

Meta and founder Mr Zuckerberg came under increasing criticism over the company’s practices and policies after whistleblower Frances Haugen spoke before Congress in October 2021.

Ms Haugen, who began working for the company in 2019 and resigned in April 2021, leaked internal documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Congress and various news outlets.

She told a Senate commerce subcommittee hearing that Facebook algorithms promote posts with high levels of engagement, often pushing harmful or divisive content to users.

In October last year, the company’s Oversight Board — which was established in November 2018 to promote free expression on Facebook and Instagram — said the social media company was not being “fully forthcoming” and transparent with users.

It said the company was unclear about how it had exempted some high-profile users from its rules.

Updated: November 25, 2022, 5:47 AM