Meta the parent company of Instagram and WhatsApp plans to lay off its employees from the Reality Labs division. This unit of Meta is responsible for the development of custom chips which has been facing challenges in creating competitive silicon internally and as a result, the company is being forced to turn to external chipmaker Qualcomm for its devices.
The news of layoffs was first reported by Reuters, citing sources according to whom, employees were informed of the layoffs by Meta’s internal discussion forum Workplace on Tuesday. The notifications regarding their employment status are expected to be delivered by this morning.
The layoffs are most likely to affect the Facebook Agile Silicon Team (FAST). This team nearly comprises 600 employees. This unit of Meta is primarily focused on the design of custom chips aimed to improve the performance and efficiency of Meta’s devices, particularly in the emerging reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) market.
Mark Zuckerberg has a vision that includes the development of augmented reality glasses that Zuckerberg believes will revolutionize human interaction with technology. But, while Meta has been making strides in the AR/VR space with its mixed reality headsets, such as the Quest, and smart glasses developed in partnership with EssilorLuxottica, its chip development efforts have lagged behind. The existing devices of the company including Quest headsets and Ray-Ban smart glasses rely on chips produced by Qualcomm which indicates Meta’s dependency on external assistance.
There were some speculations regarding a restructuring of the FAST division circulating earlier this year, coinciding with the appointment of a new executive to lead the unit. Additionally, another chip-focused unit within Meta specializing in artificial intelligence has encountered its own set of challenges with its executive recently announcing her departure.
The commitment Meta has for the development of AR/VR remains evident as the company unveiled new iterations of its smart glasses and the consumer-oriented Quest headset at its annual Connect conference last week.
Moreover, Meta is actively working on advanced AR glasses that sport a sleek, eyeglasses-like design. These AR glasses are accompanied by associated smartwatches with the first version expected to be completed by next year.
Meta has still not officially confirmed the reports of layoffs in its Reaity Labs Division. Nonetheless, the industry will be closely watching the company’s next moves in the ever-evolving landscape of augmented and virtual reality.