Tech layoffs at big companies could be a boon for startups and entrepreneurship – GeekWire

Tech layoffs at big companies could be a boon for startups and entrepreneurship – GeekWire

(Bigstock Photo)

A wave of layoffs at tech companies is flooding the job market with contemporary expertise. The development is sparking questions on whether or not startups will take benefit, and whether or not there’ll be a rush of latest companies launched by Big Tech alum.

The reply to the primary query is sure. While some startups are feeling the results of the tech downturn, trimming headcount themselves, others are already benefiting from the bigger hiring pool. 

Rich Wurden, Aigen co-founder. (LinkedIn Photo)

“I’m positively gaining access to a lot of expertise that we wouldn’t have had simply a 12 months in the past,” mentioned Rich Wurden, co-founder of Seattle-based agricultural expertise startup Aigen.

Startups which have assets to rent can even be extra aggressive on wage affords as big tech companies curb their hiring and reduce recruiting budgets. 

Working for a startup could really feel extra dangerous for an engineer, marketer, designer, or different skilled accustomed to the perks and safety supplied at a giant firm. 

But there are benefits, resembling a possibility to get fairness in an early-stage startup, and having extra affect on tradition, product, and hiring.

Day One Syndicate, a networking channel for former Amazon employees, has seen a “spike in curiosity,” mentioned co-founder Sean Sternbach.

Seattle startup Spiral, for instance, interviewed and employed former Amazon employees by the community, he mentioned. 

A boon for startup studios?

Joining a startup is one factor. Starting one is one other. And it’s much less clear if the tech layoffs will spark a new wave of entrepreneurial exercise.

Leaders at Seattle startup studios Madrona Venture Labs and Pioneer Square Labs say they’ve seen a rise in functions and curiosity from aspiring founders amid the layoffs.

“If you’re going to take the profession threat, you may as properly have the upside.”

Part of their blueprint since launching a number of years in the past has been to draw expertise from bigger tech companies and decrease the danger of becoming a member of a startup by offering help. That technique could show fruitful with the current layoffs.

“This new era of employees, they’re feeling extra profession dangers than perhaps they felt earlier than,” mentioned Mike Fridgen, CEO at Madrona Venture Labs. “If you’re going to take the profession threat, you may as properly have the upside.”

“These moments are so uncommon,” Fridgen mentioned. “Broad-scale tech layoffs, they occur occasionally.”

For laid-off employees who wish to scratch an entrepreneurial itch, severance checks can present sufficient revenue and runway to get a new firm off the bottom.

Startups rising from the ashes

Past downturns have confirmed fruitful for budding entrepreneurs. After the dot-com bust, Facebook and YouTube got here alongside. Airbnb, Slack, and Uber all launched from the ashes of the 2008 financial disaster. 

Ken Horenstein, founding father of early-stage enterprise capital agency Pack Ventures, predicts a delay following the present string of layoffs, given the time it typically takes for entrepreneurial ventures to incubate. But individuals will finally begin constructing the companies they’ve been desirous about for the previous few years, he mentioned. 

“I’m anticipating to see many ‘ex-FAANG’ founders quickly,” he mentioned, a reference to longstanding tech giants Facebook (Meta), Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google (Alphabet).

But beginning a enterprise within the present market can be tough given the shortage of enterprise capital.

  • Investors deployed $7 billion in This fall to seed-stage startups, down 35% year-over-year, based on Crunchbase. Early-stage funding dropped 54%.
  • With rising rates of interest and tumbling tech inventory valuations, many VCs are utilizing a extra stringent criteria when deciding which startups to again.

“On one hand, you might have individuals that will have extra time,” mentioned Greg Gottesman, managing director at Pioneer Square Labs. “On the opposite hand, you might have a more difficult financing local weather.”

Some corporations are particularly focusing on laid off tech employees. San Francisco-based agency Day One Ventures lately launched a new program known as “Funded Not Fired” that requires startups to have at least one founder who was laid off. 

Alternative paths

Startups aren’t the one touchdown pad for job candidates. Some bigger companies are nonetheless hiring. Recent surveys present that the majority laid-off tech employees are discovering jobs inside three months.

Non-tech companies are additionally hungry to rent to spice up their very own engineering operations, in retail, finance, manufacturing and different industries.

Kate Hotler, left, and H.R. Emi
in entrance of the Tieton Arts & Humanities constructing. (Kate Hotler Photo)

And some tech employees are leaving the trade altogether after getting laid off, getting in a totally different path to construct one thing significant.

Kate Hotler, a former consumer expertise designer at Seattle’s Tableau Software, misplaced her job in March 2020 in the course of the firm’s merger with Salesforce.

Rather than pursuing one other tech position, she moved to Tieton, a small city in Yakima County, Wash., to launch a “summer season camp for grownups.”

She finally began an after college program for college students. Funded by numerous grants, this system now brings in about 20 college students per day, and operates out of a gas station-turned classroom.

Hotler has additionally stepped into the position as chairperson of the board for the Yakima Valley Libraries Foundation, in addition to a member of the Tieton Planning Commission. These civic-minded roles are wanted, particularly in small cities, Hotler mentioned.

“I felt like a dime a dozen, in some methods, as a UX designer at Tableau,” Hotler mentioned. “But that set of expertise is so wanted elsewhere.”