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Oysters to layoffs: How Meta’s local office went from expansion to slowdown in five months

50 Binney Street in Cambridge, the site of Meta's planned expansion.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

In June, Meta’s office at 100 Binney St. in Kendall Square was buzzing.

Employees were finally coming back to the office. Its acclaimed chef (from Hungry Mother) was whipping up tofu tikka masala and soft-shell crab sandwiches. There were oysters and happy hours.

But most notably, Meta was getting ready to grow its presence in the area in a big way. It had signed a lease to triple its real estate footprint in Kendall Square, with plans to hire so many people that it would need about 250,000 square feet — all the floors — of the building at 50 Binney St., just a block away.


Before this week’s layoff, which affects 13 percent of the company’s workforce, Meta said it employed 500 people in Cambridge. It’s not clear whether that number includes employees who are remote. And though the company never specified how many jobs it planned to add, spokesperson Jamila Reeves said the “significant investment” would help Meta grow its tech and engineering teams here.

Now, that growth is in doubt.

Reeves has not answered questions about how Meta’s 11,000-person layoff affected the local office — or whether the company is still moving forward with any expansion.

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg made it clear in a letter to employees that Meta is shrinking its real estate footprint. The company now has fewer than 10 job openings listed for the local office.

Meta laid off employees via e-mail, according to documents obtained by the Globe. Laid-off workers lost their access to company buildings, and all employees were asked to work from home Wednesday.

Though they knew layoffs were coming, the scale was unclear.

“I honestly did not expect to get laid off,” one local who lost their job told the Globe Wednesday. “They went much deeper than anyone even on my team was anticipating.”


Zuckerberg said that the company made cuts across all departments, though recruiting and business roles were hit the hardest.

In Cambridge, recruiting, marketing, and business employees worked from an office at One Broadway, which a spokesperson previously said can hold 120 people. The rest of the workforce, including tech and engineering employees, were based in the 100 Binney St. office, which spans three floors.

Meta agreed to pay $28 million a year for its new space until 2030, with the price increasing by 3 percent per year, according to its sublease agreement with biotech firm bluebird bio.

One of the main reasons Meta set up a post in Kendall Square was to recruit talent out of the area’s universities. But if the company starts hiring again, will students still want to work there?

Bhaskar Chakravorti, the dean of global business at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, thinks so.

“Even in the lowest of days, our students had strong interest in exploring opportunities with Meta,” he said. “They saw that they could participate in a reform of social media and they were excited by that, because these platforms are not going to go anywhere... They’re part of our reality.”

Anissa Gardizy can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @anissagardizy8 and on Instagram @anissagardizy.journalism.