Meta and Google layoffs: are they biased against ICs?
March 21, 2023
The narrative from Meta has been that they are heavily focused on reducing middle management in an attempt to flatten the company structure. While we can’t speak to their future plans, this does not appear to have been a focus in their previous rounds of layoffs.
First, let’s take a look at Meta layoffs in engineering:
Individual contributor: 92%
It is clear that the vast majority of affected employees, at least in engineering, were individual contributors.
Let’s take a look at another household tech giant, Google:
Individual contributor: 93%
So while Meta did lay off a larger percentage of middle managers than their counterpart (7% vs 5%, which reflects a 40% relative increase in management affected), the overall population of affected employees still appears to skew overwhelmingly towards individual contributors.
This is probably no shock for most people — managers are far less plentiful in the general population of employees at any company, so it is expected that any layoff would affect more individual contributors in absolute numbers. However, this data seems to indicate that individual contributors were more heavily affected than managers, even adjusting for the size differences in population. This analysis indicates that there were 18.6 individual contributors affected for every manager affected at Google, and 13.1 at Meta. Given that the average manager likely has far fewer than 18.6 or even 13.1 reports, it does not appear that these layoffs were effective at reducing middle management, and it looks like Google’s layoffs overwhelmingly affected ICs over managers.
If you would like to take an in-depth look at the data yourself, check out our home page. From there, you can filter by company to do your own analysis.
Caveat 1: We are not normalizing the layoff figures with the total population sizes of ICs and managers at these companies.
Ideally, we would be able to compare the total number of managers and ICs at each of these companies in order to determine whether they layoff distribution is biased. So far, we have been unable to find an up-to-date and trustworthy source for this information
Caveat 2: Google’s WARN notices may be reporting some folks as individual contributors, even though they have direct reports
Google allows L5+ engineers to operate as TLs — a sort of hybrid engineer/manager role. While these folks would be reported as non-managers, they would actually have other engineers reporting to them. This would lead to an overcounting of ICs, and an undercounting of managers. This could partially or entirely explain the significantly higher concentration of reported IC layoffs at Google as compared to Meta.
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