In wake of Google, Amazon layoffs, tech workers reconsider future

Job security was a big part of why Quinn made the switch from the video game industry to a corporate tech role in 2019.

The gaming world is a “feast and famine”, constantly hiring and firing people, Quinn said. , seemed like a safer bet.

Quinn, now 28, was not alone.For years, a job at a big Silicon Valley company was one of the better gigs an American could find. , Uber, and other corporate scandals, high salaries, generous benefits, flexible management, and a killer combination of colleges in the San Francisco Bay Area—a campus that fits your lifestyle, even as it starts to feel empty seduced Many early career self-starters.

The pandemic seemed to confirm that proposition. As everyone’s life suddenly moved online, software giants saw their stock prices skyrocket and techies began to enjoy the luxury of coding from their living room couches.

Quinn’s decision to enter the industry seemed prescient at the time. “In hindsight, it gave me a very strong sense of safety and stability that wasn’t really there,” he said.

Quinn was fired in November. It’s part of a wave of powerful tech companies. Implementing staff reductions and hiring freezes It started last summer and picked up momentum in late 2022 and into this year.

Since January 1st, Amazon has put a ton of employees on the cutting board (18,000 dismissal), Microsoft (10,000 dismissal), Salesforce (8,000 dismissal) and Google (12,000 dismissal). These reductions are Meta (11,000 dismissal November) and Snap (1,300 dismissal August), and on Twitter, melt for other reasons.

With an industry-wide downturn, many tech workers are no longer in the same fervent spotlight of an industry scrambling to attract the best talent as Quinn once did, so they’re ditching their careers. Now re-evaluate.

Where they are headed now could reshape the industry for decades to come.

Dan Ives, Technical Analyst and Managing Director at Wedbush Securities, said: Highly skilled developers and software engineers won’t be out of work for long, according to Ives, and the companies that acquire them are likely to be in exciting fields like artificial intelligence, electric vehicles, cloud storage, and cybersecurity. We will become a company that stands at the forefront of new fields. “I think it’s a reallocation of technology.”

The layoffs come on the heels of the past five years of unsustainably rapid hiring, Mr Ives said. “Now the clock strikes hypergrowth midnight. [and] I see tech CEOs ripping off Band-Aids. ”

It’s a moment with striking similarities When the dotcom bubble burst in the early 2000s, and other bubbled Web 1.0 ventures collapsed, turning an early version of the Internet economy into fog before the eyes of investors.

But that crumbling empire provided the raw material for the next 20 years of technology by flooding the market with many talented software engineers, says Ives. These latest layoffs could have the same effect, he said.

“We see it as a redistribution and shifting pecking order rather than a sign of dark ages,” analysts said.

shift from the so-called FAANGCompany — Facebook (now Meta), Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google — are part of a larger trend in which tech workers are becoming disillusioned with many of Silicon Valley’s biggest employers, most of whom are currently unpopular. is injured. Not an outright scandal.

Some workers may seize the chance to find a job more aligned with their values ​​now that they’ve been laid off and put in golden handcuffs.

“What I’ve really noticed since COVID is that tech workers of all kinds, especially experienced techs, no longer work for Facebook, Google, or Microsoft,” said John Chadfield, secretary of United Tech. I don’t want to,” he said. and the British Allied Workers Union. “It’s no longer an aspiration.”

Chadfield predicts that some software engineers will prioritize working for smaller companies that can offer the flexibility of remote work, a four-day work week and a better quality of life. Others get freelance jobs that are very flexible.

But future change could be more radical than just employees moving from big tech companies to smaller, smarter companies. Given the ubiquity of technology in every aspect of the economy, it is sometimes said that all companies are software companies today. And many non-tech companies still have good reasons to hire people that traditional tech companies just laid off.

Chadfield said he has recently seen technology workers taking on roles in government agencies and NGOs.

They are not running to hide. Many of them don’t have to accept whatever happens,” he said of the tech workers. “They are filling a gap in a wide open market and choosing where they go.”

insurance company allstate recently signaled We plan to hire laid-off technical workers to strengthen our technical capabilities. The Department of Veterans Affairs Similar Overture.

Jace, an engineering manager who was laid off at a San Francisco software company in December, said the current turmoil at large, traditional tech companies is not representative of the entire tech career, which encompasses a wide range of sectors, including healthcare. said. and a bank.

“Every company has an app, a website, a service,” Jace said. He has withheld his last name because he is actively job-seeking: “Maybe you’ll understand what it means to work in technology, what it means to work in engineering.”

Jobs in the tech industry aren’t always “places with slides and ball pits,” he said, alluding to the famous summer camp atmosphere that many Silicon Valley companies cultivated before the pandemic. rice field.

But some college graduates are attracted to tech giants despite a newfound lack of job security.

Allison, a computer science senior in the Bay Area, said she accepted offers at FAANG companies for two defense industry opportunities in Pennsylvania and Idaho.

“I would rather apply for a place making $250,000 and get fired in six months than go to Idaho and get $100,000,” she said. “I am willing to risk more money.”

Some of her friends had previously done tech internships at companies outside the traditional tech ecosystem, but she said they were still eyeing full-time positions at big companies. . Again, payment is their motivation.

But not everyone was lucky enough to secure a job before graduation, she said. Many of her friends sent hundreds of applications, and some landed on internships, but received no response.

Natalia Nesvetskaya, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies the activities of technical workers, believes that non-technical technical workers, i.e., those who write code and do other Personnel without engineering skills say they are particularly affected by job cuts.

“Most of these layoffs are affecting people [working in] Recruitment and customer service at these companies, ”said Nesvetskaya.

And many tech companies rely on temporary or contract workers, who face far more precarious employment conditions than full-time firms, even in boom times, she said. .

“More than 50% of contract workers at Google are not registered for layoffs if they are not rehired or canceled before the contract is complete,” Nedzhvetskaya said.

For Quinn, a tech worker who made the switch from video games to software in 2019 and was laid off late last year, changing economic headwinds forced him to rethink his commitment to the tech industry.

He initially thought he would just find a similar job at another tech company after being laid off from a customer service firm, but has since struggled to recreate what he lost. He said he was nearing the final stages of applying to multiple companies in months, but a sudden hiring freeze put him on the hunt again.

Quinn now focuses on sectors that use technology but whose employers are not tech companies, such as healthcare, gaming, app development and even mortgage paperwork. He said he wasn’t sure if he was “sticking” to staying with conventional technology.Many of his colleagues are asking themselves the same thing, he added.

“At least everyone I talk to is like, ‘Hmm, is this what I thought? ‘Am I insulated from all these economic shifts?'”

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