Meta pulls the plug on Portals and smartwatches as it cuts 11,000 employees

The parent company of Facebook is shaving off some of the projects it's been working on in an effort to save money and deal with a reduced staff.

Meta has reportedly killed off its Portal smart home hub and plans for upcoming smartwatches. The news comes from Reuters and The Verge who both report that Meta executives confirmed the decision with employees during a town hall meeting. It’s one of the first big consequences following massive layoffs inside the company.

No more Portal, no Facebook-powered smartwatches

  • The Portal, Meta’s biggest offering in the smart home market, will no longer be developed or sold. Meta’s rumored smartwatches, with the first scheduled to be announced in 2023, will also be thrown away.
  • While it’s not confirmed, the hardware cancelations are likely caused by the massive layoffs inside Meta, with around 11,000 employees being fired.
  • It’s unclear where Meta might start to make cuts next.

The Portal first burst onto the scene in 2018 when Meta was known as Facebook. It was a large device with a primary purpose of being the central spot in your home where you make video calls. Since that device was released, variations of the Portal were sold, each a bit smaller and better optimized for different spots in your house. This past June, Meta quietly stopped selling the device to consumers, and moving forward, it won’t sell it to businesses either.

Meanwhile, the two smartwatches that have been canceled have been leaked in the past. One of the watches, codenamed “Milan,” was said to be arriving in 2023 with a starting price of $349. It would’ve offered dual cameras for video calls, as well as the usual list of health and connectivity features. Neither will see the light of day, unfortunately.

While it hasn’t been directly traced, it’s likely that these product cancelations are due to the massive layoffs CEO Mark Zuckerberg just put in place. A total of around 11,000 employees got the axe this week, and about 46 percent of those people (according to Reuters) were on teams that worked on the Portal and other hardware, like smartwatches.

Another likely cause is Meta’s need to save money, given the state of the economy and advertising industry following the pandemic. Meta’s Portal was by no means a popular device, and canceling it will have little effect on the smart home market. While it’s impossible to predict whether a Meta smartwatch would do better, it’s safe to say that it would’ve taken more time than Meta likely had to build it into a solid competitor to Apple and Samsung.