A new report from The Verge claims that Meta’s Reality Labs division comprises of over 17,000 people.
The report largely deals with the freeze on new hires — first discussed in a report from Reuters last week — as the company reevaluates priorities and cuts back on and postpones select projects. The Verge reports this will affect non-Reality Labs divisions such as those that deal with Facebook Dating, Messenger Kids and more. The Reality Labs-specific changes will be announced soon, according to internal comments from CTO Andrew Bosworth last week, but Meta and CEO Mark Zuckerberg insist that staff lay-offs are not planned “at this time.”
However, after mentioning that Meta isn’t planing to move staff off Reality Labs and onto other teams, The Verge’s report also makes a passing comment claiming that the Reality Labs division “already totals over 17,000 people.” We reached out to Meta to independently confirm the accuracy of this number, but Meta spokespeople declined to comment.
Reality Labs is the division that works on all virtual and augmented reality hardware and software, as well as Portal, the company’s dedicated video call hardware. In March 2021, a report from The Information claimed that 10,000 people at Meta (then Facebook) were working on VR/AR, which accounted for around 17% of the company’s employees at the time. That was up from 2017, when around 5% of company employees were working on VR/AR.
This means that in just over a year, Meta’s Reality Labs division has made approximately 7,000 new hires. According to Meta, the company hired more engineers in Q1 2022 than they did in all of 2021. As of March 31 2022, Meta’s total employee headcount was 77,805 — up from 58,604 at the same point in 2021. The 17,000 people working at Reality Labs specifically then equates to 21% of the entire company — 4% higher than a year ago.
You can read more about the planned cutbacks here, as well as a breakdown on Meta’s most recent earnings report, featuring increased Reality Labs revenue and costs, here.