Tech Layoffs Remain Ongoing, But What’s Happening to the Actual Employees?

Lon Harris
Lon Harris is a contributor to dot.LA. His work has also appeared on ScreenJunkies, RottenTomatoes and Inside Streaming.
Tech Layoffs Remain Ongoing, But What’s Happening to the Actual Employees?
Evan Xie

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Less than halfway into 2023, global layoffs from the technology sector have already surpassed 2022’s total. An estimated 197,000 tech employees around the world have lost their jobs so far this year, according to data compiled by Layoffs.fyi, and the overall tally has multiplied seven-fold so far this year. It’s still not over! Meta told employees just this week to expect even more cuts which could impact thousands more people, while British telecom Vodafone announced plans to slash 11,000 jobs over the next three years.


But while the layoffs themselves, and perhaps the companies’ adjustments to moving forward with a much smaller workforce, get the lion’s share of the headlines, one question still remains: Just what’s going to happen to all these newly laid-off people? When one or two big firms gets into trouble, it’s sort of assumed other big players in the industry will grab top talent that’s suddenly freed up. But will there be enough tech jobs for all the people leaving their former companies this year?

Leaving Tech Altogether

Recode points out that many people who work for tech companies are not technologists by trade, and may be able to pivot into other gigs with relative ease. Google’s recent layoffs from their California HQ, for example, included 30 in-house massage therapists, who don’t necessarily need to jump over to another job in tech. According to data from CompTIA, around 59% of Americans with technical jobs don’t actually work in the technology industry, but are in other fields like finance, health care, or retail. It’s likely that, at least to some extent, these jobs will soak up some of former Googlers and Metakateers, or whatever you call people who work at Meta.

At least some laid-off workers with actual technical jobs are also abandoning tech entirely and seeking employment in new fields. Vice recently caught up with a few castoffs who have enjoyed transitions into totally different kinds of work: at wineries, neighborhood retail shops, fashion startups and elsewhere. Meanwhile, The Baltimore Sun compiled labor and survey data to find that many tech workers are jumping into jobs in education, commercial banking, manufacturing, or telecommunications.

Developers and Engineers Move from Large Tech Companies to Small Startups

Still, this is unlikely to be a solution for the majority of people who are losing their Twitter, Meta, and Google gigs this year. Most recruiters agree that laid-off tech workers – particularly people in highly-skilled jobs like software developers, engineers, and data scientists – don’t really want to give up on the kinds of cutting-edge work they were doing for other kinds of employment that might seem a touch more mundane. As Honeywell software executive Kevin Denoff – who has actively been recruiting Big Tech workers – told The Wall Street Journal this week, “if you’re a young hotshot code developer, Honeywell may not be on your list of top five or ten companies that you want to work for.”

Ultimately, it seems like tech workers will likely remain somewhere within the industry moving forward. They’ll likely just have a bit less job security – and fewer creature comforts – while they do it, at least for a while.

According to a report last week in The Wall Street Journal, many of the more highly-skilled tech workers we mentioned – the developers and engineers – are moving from the largest tech companies over to small startups, building new projects from the ground up. Scott Ruffin of e-commerce delivery startup Pandion Pro told WSJ that, while his company can’t necessarily compete on wages alone, they’re able to attract top-quality talent “because what we’re doing is different.” By some estimates, around 40% of laid-off tech workers have found new jobs at startups or smaller employers over the last nine months.

From Full Time Employees to Gig Workers

The Seattle Times caught up recently with a number of laid-off Amazon staffers who have been recruited for part-time or consulting work by their former employer. It’s maybe a touch indelicate; one staffer reports responding back to the job offer by recommending that Amazon simply not fire her in the first place, while another found themselves explaining repeatedly to recruiters on the phone that they were unwilling to trade in full-time work for freelance gigs. From Amazon’s perspective, they prefer when consultants or part-timers have applicable prior experience and, according to a spokesperson, they don’t consider contract workers as replacements for full-time workers.

Entrepreneurship Blooms

For those who don’t wish to take less steady, lower-paying jobs at their former offices, other laid-off workers apparently hope to rebound by starting their own technology companies. A survey of 1,000 laid-off tech workers from Clarify Capital LLC earlier this year found that 63% of respondents planned to start their own company after being laid off. Meanwhile, incubator Y Combinator reports that their number of new applicants jumped 20% in 2022 and will likely see an even bigger spike this year. According to Yahoo! Finance, there are also some early indicators that laid-off tech workers may be selling off their saved-up private shares in order to fund new ventures.

Through no fault of their own, these new entrepreneurs are entering the startup world at a particularly challenging moment. Venture capitalists and growth investors have been majorly scaling back their investments this year. According to Crunchbase, global funding in Q1 of 2023 was around $76 billion, a 53% decline over the same period in 2022. That’s a tricky time for even established founders to raise funding, let alone newcomers who are entering the space because they recently lost their previous gigs. As well, more established players in the startup world can plan out their next projects over several years, and time their raises for the most opportune moments, whereas people who have recently lost their jobs are in a more time-sensitive, high-pressure personal situation.

Still, with the potential rewards remaining so high, a lot of aspiring founders are willing to accept a high level of risk. With so many tech workers turning recent setbacks into new opportunities, the stormy economic forecasts of 2022 and 2023 may yet lead to a silver lining. Even for someone other than Amazon.

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🤠Musk Picks Texas and 🔥Tinder AI Picks Your Profile Pictures
Image Source: Tinder

🔦 Spotlight

Tinder is altering dating profile creation with its new AI-powered Photo Selector feature, designed to help users choose their most appealing dating profile pictures. This innovative tool employs facial recognition technology to curate a set of up to 10 photos from the user's device, streamlining the often time-consuming process of profile setup. To use the feature, users simply take a selfie within the Tinder app and grant access to their camera roll. The AI then analyzes the photos based on factors like lighting and composition, drawing from Tinder's research on what makes an effective profile picture.

The selection process occurs entirely on the user's device, ensuring privacy and data security. Tinder doesn't collect or store any biometric data or photos beyond those chosen for the profile, and the facial recognition data is deleted once the user exits the feature. This new tool addresses a common pain point for users, as Tinder's research shows that young singles typically spend about 25 to 33 minutes selecting a profile picture. By automating this process, Tinder aims to reduce profile creation time and allow users to focus more on making meaningful connections.

In wholly unrelated news, Elon Musk has announced plans to relocate the headquarters of X (formerly Twitter) and SpaceX from California to Texas. SpaceX will move from Hawthorne to Starbase, while X will shift from San Francisco to Austin. Musk cited concerns about aggressive drug users near X's current headquarters and a new California law regarding gender identity notification in schools as reasons for the move. This decision follows Musk's previous relocation of Tesla's headquarters to Texas in 2021.

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  • Penguin Random House agreed to acquire comic book publisher Boom! Studios from backers like Walt Disney Co. - learn more

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Top LA Accelerators that Entrepreneurs Should Know About

Los Angeles, has a thriving startup ecosystem with numerous accelerators, incubators, and programs designed to support and nurture new businesses. These programs provide a range of services, including funding, mentorship, workspace, networking opportunities, and strategic guidance to help entrepreneurs develop their ideas and scale their companies.


Techstars Los Angeles

Techstars is a global outfit with a chapter in Los Angeles that opened in 2017. It prioritizes local companies but will fund some firms based outside of LA.

Location: Culver City

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, early stage

Focus: Industry Agnostic

Notable Past Companies: StokedPlastic, Zeno Power


Grid110

Grid110 offers no-cost, no-equity programs for entrepreneurs in Los Angeles, including a 12-week Residency accelerator for early-stage startups, an Idea to Launch Bootcamp for pre-launch entrepreneurs, and specialized programs like the PledgeLA Founders Fund and Friends & Family program, all aimed at providing essential skills, resources, and support to help founders develop and grow their businesses.

Location: DTLA

Type of Funding: Seed, early stage

Focus: Industry Agnostic

Notable Past Companies: Casetify, Flavors From Afar


Idealab

Idealab is a renowned startup studio and incubator based in Pasadena, California. Founded in 1996 by entrepreneur Bill Gross, Idealab has a long history of nurturing innovative technology companies, with over 150 startups launched and 45 successful IPOs and acquisitions, including notable successes like Coinbase and Tenor.

Location: Pasadena

Type of Funding: Stage agnostic

Focus: Industry Agnostic, AI/Robotics, Consumer, Clean Energy

Notable Past Companies: Lumin, Coinbase, Tenor


Plug In South LA

Plug In South LA is a tech accelerator program focused on supporting and empowering Black and Latinx entrepreneurs in the Los Angeles area. The 12-week intensive program provides early-stage founders with mentorship, workshops, strategic guidance, potential pilot partnerships, grant funding, and networking opportunities to help them scale their businesses and secure investment.

Location: Los Angeles

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, seed

Focus: Industry Agnostic, Connection to South LA and related communities

Notable Past Companies: ChargerHelp, Peadbo


Cedars-Sinai Accelerator

The Cedars-Sinai Accelerator is a three-month program based in Los Angeles that provides healthcare startups with $100,000 in funding, mentorship from over 300 leading clinicians and executives, and access to Cedars-Sinai's clinical expertise and resources. The program aims to transform healthcare quality, efficiency, and care delivery by helping entrepreneurs bring their innovative technology products to market, offering participants dedicated office space, exposure to a broad network of healthcare entrepreneurs and investors, and the opportunity to pitch their companies at a Demo Day.

Location: West Hollywood

Type of Funding: Seed, early stage, convertible note

Focus: Healthcare, Device, Life Sciences

Notable Past Companies: Regard, Hawthorne Effect


MedTech Innovator

MedTech Innovator is the world's largest accelerator for medical technology companies, based in Los Angeles, offering a four-month program that provides selected startups with unparalleled access to industry leaders, investors, and resources without taking equity. The accelerator culminates in showcase events and competitions where participating companies can win substantial non-dilutive funding, with the program having a strong track record of helping startups secure FDA approvals and significant follow-on funding.

Location: Westwood

Type of Funding: Seed, early stage

Focus: Health Care, Health Diagnostics, Medical Device

Notable Past Companies: Zeto, Genetesis


KidsX

The KidsX Accelerator in Los Angeles is a 10-week program that supports early-stage digital health companies focused on pediatric care, providing mentorship, resources, and access to a network of children's hospitals to help startups validate product-market fit and scale their solutions. The accelerator uses a reverse pitch model, where participating hospitals identify focus areas and work closely with selected startups to develop and pilot digital health solutions that address specific pediatric needs.

Location: East Hollywood

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, seed, early stage

Focus: Pediatric Health Care Innovation

Notable Past Companies: Smileyscope, Zocalo Health


Disney Accelerator

Disney Accelerator is a startup accelerator that provides early-stage companies in the consumer media, entertainment and technology sectors with mentorship, guidance, and investment from Disney executives. The program, now in its 10th year, aims to foster collaborations and partnerships between innovative technology companies and The Walt Disney Company to help them accelerate their growth and bring new experiences to Disney audiences.

Location: Burbank

Type of Funding: Growth stage

Focus: Technology and entertainment

Notable Past Companies: Epic Games, BRIT + CO, CAMP


Techstars Space Accelerator

Techstars Space Accelerator is a startup accelerator program focused on advancing the next generation of space technology companies. The three-month mentorship-driven program brings together founders from across the globe to work on big ideas in aerospace, including rapid launch services, precision-based imaging, operating systems for complex robotics, in-space servicing, and thermal protection.

Location: Los Angeles

Type of Funding: Growth stage

Focus: Aerospace

Notable Past Companies: Pixxel, Morpheus Space



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🚁 One Step Closer to Air Taxis in LA
Image Source: Joby Aviation

🔦 Spotlight

Joby Aviation, a pioneering electric air taxi company, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully flying a hydrogen-electric aircraft demonstrator for 523 miles with only water as a byproduct. This groundbreaking flight showcases the potential for emissions-free regional travel using vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, eliminating the need for traditional runways. The company's innovative approach combines its existing battery-electric air taxi technology with hydrogen fuel cells, paving the way for longer-range, environmentally friendly air travel.

For LA residents, this development holds exciting implications for future transportation options. Joby's technology could potentially enable direct flights from LA to destinations like San Francisco or San Diego without the need to visit conventional airports, offering a cleaner and more convenient alternative to current travel methods. The company's progress in both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric aircraft positions it at the forefront of next-generation aviation, promising to revolutionize urban and regional mobility.

Notably, Joby Aviation has already made strides in Southern California by securing an agreement with John Wayne Airport earlier this year to install the region's first electric air taxi charger. This strategic move sets the stage for LA to be among the initial markets where Joby will launch its electric air taxi service. With plans to commence commercial operations as early as 2025 using its battery-electric air taxi, LA residents may soon have access to a fast, quiet, and environmentally friendly mode of transportation that could significantly reduce travel times and traffic congestion in the region. In the not too distant future, LA might find itself in an identity crisis without traffic and excess smog 🤞🤞.


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