Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg delivers harsh message to employees

As tech stocks take a tumble amid a broader market downturn, Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has delivered a harsh message to employees: Step up or clear out.

In an employee Q&A on on Thursday, the Facebook founder told employees to brace for tough times ahead, according to audio reviewed by Reuters.

"If I had to bet, I’d say that this might be one of the worst downturns that we’ve seen in recent history," Mr Zuckerberg said at the meeting.

The company plans to scale back on hiring and introduce tougher performance targets for employees. Mr Zuckberg admitted that the increased expectations may lead to staff turnover – and the tech exec is fine with that.

"Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here," he told employees.

"Part of my hope by raising expectations and having more aggressive goals, and just kind of turning up the heat a little bit, is that I think some of you might decide that this place isn’t for you, and that self-selection is OK with me," Mr Zuckerberg added.

The company initially planned on hiring around 10,000 engineers this year, according to The New York Times. Now, Meta – which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp – has lowered those targets to between 6,000 and 7,000, according to The Times.

Despite the economic headwinds, the company does not plan to lay off workers, according to the Times’ reporting. But the company’s teams will have to make do with fewer resources, according to chief product officer Chris Cox, who said in a memo that it must “operate leaner, meaner, better executing teams”.

“I have to underscore that we are in serious times here and the headwinds are fierce. We need to execute flawlessly in an environment of slower growth, where teams should not expect vast influxes of new engineers and budgets,” Mr Cox wrote in a memo, according to Reuters.

Reuters contributed to this article.