Opinion: Zuckerberg and Intel are shipping the proceeds from their layoffs straight to Wall Street

Opinion: Zuckerberg and Intel are shipping the proceeds from their layoffs straight to Wall Street

For years, Wall Street groused about Silicon Valley’s refusal to pay dividends and purchase again inventory as tech corporations grew into cash-generating machines.

That is now not an issue, though these tech corporations are producing fewer earnings than they have been in earlier years. In reality, some tech corporations are mainly paying off Wall Street whilst they reduce the staff that made them multibillion-dollar tech giants in the first place.

Meta Platforms Inc.
was the newest to promise that payroll cuts will move again to traders, saying a contemporary $40 billion stock-repurchase authorization regardless of having greater than $10 billion remaining in its buyback coffers. The information overshadowed an earnings miss and Meta’s third consecutive quarter of declining sales and profit, and the results have been onerous to miss —- shares spiked practically 20% in after-hours buying and selling, a transfer that may add roughly $80 billion again to the market capitalization of Facebook’s guardian firm.

Meta’s large stock-buying assure provides to Intel Corp.
executives’ choice to preserve a dividend that paid out $6 billion to traders final yr, regardless of the chip maker’s free money move falling to detrimental in 2022 and expectations that it is going to be in the pink once more for the first quarter. While laying off workers, cutting pay and shelving some plans to develop its fabrication enterprise so as to take away $3 billion in prices, Intel is anticipated to pay roughly $1.5 billion in dividends in the first quarter.

For extra: Intel stock’s dividend sticks out among chip makers

The disconnect between the cash spent to assuage Wall Street and the cash saved by slashing payroll is much more disparate for Facebook. The firm stated its restructuring efforts price $4.2 billion in the fourth quarter, together with actual property consolidation, severance and writing down of information middle belongings — barely 10% of the contemporary stock-repurchase authorization.

Meta nonetheless expects a further $1 billion in restructuring prices in 2023, after laying off more than 11,000 employees, or about 13% of its global workforce. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg took the blame for the cuts once they have been introduced, as a macroeconomic downturn accelerated and made Meta’s large progress seem like profligate spending.

More from Therese: Intel just had its worst year since the dot-com bust, and it won’t get better anytime soon

Zuckerberg on Wednesday seemed like he was really glad about the cuts, although. He stated that whereas the layoffs have been tough, he discovered that Meta was working higher already and the firm might be extra targeted on profitability, and the firm can’t “deal with all the pieces prefer it’s hyper-growth.”

“For the first 18 years, I believe we grew it 20%, 30% compound or much more yearly, proper?” Zuckerberg instructed analysts on the firm’s name. “And then clearly that modified very dramatically in 2022 the place our income was detrimental for the progress for the first time in the firm’s historical past.”

But he stated that as Meta began doing the work of cost-cutting, he admitted “I really assume it makes us higher.”

Meta thus is an instance of the good and dangerous affect of Wall Street on an organization. Clearly, some tech giants grew to become too bloated in dimension throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to proceed to function at the similar revenue ranges in an financial downturn. The firm really listened to traders who advocated for some costs to be cut, even when that hasn’t dampened Zuckerberg’s imaginative and prescient for the metaverse but.

Read additionally: Facebook and Google grew into titans by ignoring Wall Street

Those cuts must be felt by all concerned, although, not simply workers. When an organization is shrinking — Intel’s earnings declined by greater than 60% final yr, whereas Meta’s fell by greater than 40% — all concerned ought to really feel the ache, as a substitute of pushing that ache on staff whereas rewarding traders. Yet King Zuckerberg now will see the worth of his particular founder shares spike, whereas the staff he laid off scramble for a brand new job to allow them to pay their mortgage.