Head of Meta Ireland to leave as company faces uncertainty

Irish Independent tech

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The head of Meta Ireland is to leave the company.

ick Kelley, the Bostonian who took the helm of one of Ireland’s biggest tech multinationals just 11 months ago and who has been with the tech giant 14 years, says he wants to “take a break”.

The company says that it will “begin the search for Rick’s successor as head of Meta Ireland shortly”.

It comes as Meta is reportedly on the verge of another round of belt-tightening job layoffs. The firm, which counts Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp as its subsidiaries, has already targeted 350 of its 3,000 Irish staff for redundancy.

“After 14 years, I have made the difficult decision that the time has come for me to leave Meta and I’ll be wrapping up in the next couple of months,” said Mr Kelley.

“This was not an easy decision. But over the holidays, when contemplating what’s next for my career, I was most excited by the prospect of taking a break.”

In addition to running the Irish operation, Mr Kelley is also the global vice president of Meta’s gaming and app monetisation solutions division.

Among the biggest tech giants, Meta’s business has been particularly impacted in the last 18 months. Aside from the general contraction in tech industry fortunes, Meta took a hit of over €10bn per year from Apple’s decision to make it easier for smartphone users to stop Facebook and Instagram from tracking users for ads. The company’s Metaverse project, which founder Mark Zuckerberg hopes will become the next big online platform and which has cost the firm over €10bn so far, has also not yet borne commercial or industrial fruit.

Mr Kelley, a previous Yahoo executive in the US and Spain, joined Facebook in 2009 as one of Meta Ireland’s first employees. He was director of sales for EMEA, later becoming responsible for global advertising sales for the gaming industry divisions.

“To say this is a different company today versus June 2009 is an understatement,” he said.

“When I started, we had just celebrated having 300 million monthly users. We now have over three billion.”

Outside the company, he was active as a coach at Dublin’s Broadford Rovers Football Club and has been a board member at the Saoirse Foundation, a children’s charity, for the last five years.

“I’ve had the time of my life, made a lifetime’s worth of memories and created so many friendships that will last forever.”

The news comes as Meta is reportedly preparing for more people to leave. Several reports claim that the company has issued higher numbers of poor performance reviews, while founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has described 2023 as a “year of efficiency” for the firm. Mr Zuckerberg has repeatedly had the gloomiest prognosis for global recession among big tech founders.

Meta’s vice president of its global business group, Nicola Mendelsohn, said that Mr Kelley had made a “profound impact”.

“As one of Meta’s first employees in Dublin, he is leaving behind a long-lasting legacy,” she said.

“He established and built the EMEA sales team prior to becoming the global vice president of the gaming and app monetisation team. Since taking on the additional role as head of office at Meta Ireland in early 2022, he also oversaw the recent move to our new Ballsbridge campus. We wish him every success in his future endeavours.”